Sunday, August 19, 2012

Can she bake an apple crisp?

Last weekend we had an impromptu dinner with some friends.  It ended up being a collaborative meal, with everyone bringing some component.  Fruit crisp is my go-to dessert for last minute situations, especially in the summertime.  Sometimes even when I do have more time, crisp is always a favorite.  It's endlessly adaptable, and so easy!  

I actually ran out of time before guests arrived, and made the crisp while they nibbled on appetizers.  It's the kind of thing you can do and still participate in the conversation, and guests don't feel they've caught you in the midst of some big endeavor.  It's delicious all on its own, or even better served a la mode or with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.  And yes, you should whip the cream yourself.  It takes two seconds, and is way better (taste and ingredient-wise) than the aerosol can stuff, and don't even mention that fake whipped topping business.   

But enough preaching, back to the dessert!  This recipe is from Gerri, the mother of a college-era boyfriend.  A dear, lovely woman, she first introduced me to baking bread from scratch, and healing herbs. 

Here is the original recipe, and below are comments and ideas.

Enjoy the sweet life!


Fruit Crisp

1 - 21 oz. can of fruit pie filling (cherry or other)
1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. butter

* Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or 350 if using a glass pie pan.
* Grease pie pan.  
* Spread fruit in pan.
* Stir brown sugar, flour, oat, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a bowl, or pulse a few times in the bowl of a food processor.  Cut butter into small pieces (1/2" or so).  Cut butter into dry ingredients, using food processor, a pastry blender, or two knives.  Work until butter is the size of small pebbles.  
* Distribute topping over the fruit.
* Bake 35-40 minutes, until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling.  
* Let cool some before eating.  Difficult, I know!

Notes from Tara:

*  I use fresh fruit when I can.  Although not a summer fruit, this time I used apples, as that is what I had on hand.  Apples, cherries, mixed berries, peaches...  any fruit you'd find in a pie is a possibility.  Process however needed to get in a ready-to-eat bite-sized manner.  You can even add in some dried fruit or other flavors, such as cranberries and grated ginger with apples.  Go crazy!  

* Firmer fruits, such as fresh apples, need a little more baking time.  Cover with foil if the topping is getting too brown and the fruit isn't yet bubbly.  

* Canned fruit filling has sugar already added, so if you use fresh, you'll want to add sugar yourself.  How much?  That depends on the sweetness of the fruit and your preference.  In a bowl, mix together fruit and a small amount of sugar, say 1/4 c.  Stir, and let sugar dissolve while making topping.  Taste, and see if sweet enough.  If yes, you're good to go!  If not, add a bit more, taste, continue until satisfied.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the baking dish.  You could also use other sweeteners.  

* If using a very moist fruit, such as mixed berries, add in some thickener, like corn starch or flour.  From Everything Pies, the average amount of cornstarch for 4 ounces of fruit is 1 to 2 teaspoons.  

* You can also use frozen fruit.  I only buy unsweetened fruit, so would want to add in sugar as with fresh.  If sugar already included, no need to add more.  Thaw before using.  

* I usually make gluten free by substituting an equal measure (by weight, or by quantity if you don't have a kitchen scale) of gluten free flour mix for the flour.  You could also use whole wheat flour.         

* Chopped nuts are also a welcome addition to the topping.  Be sure pieces are nice and small, especially if using a harder nut, like almonds.  

If there is any leftover, it is delicious the next day!
Warm slightly, in microwave or (toaster) oven.


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