Bruised or Surplus Fruit Crisp
Since we now live in the land of delicious summer peaches, I can't pass by the peach stand at the farmers market without grabbing a bag. Luckily for my wallet, the farmers here all offer 'scratch & dents' or bruised or irregular or otherwise imperfect peaches at a steep discount. Aesthetically immaculate they are not, but perfectly delicious they are, so a great way to use them up despite visual flaws is a hot bubbling crisp or crumble.
If you find yourself with extra fruit, even ones that are getting a bit soft or wrinkly, bake it up into a crisp. Berries are great (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) as are stone fruits (cherries, plums, apricots, peaches) or apples or pears. Citrus or tropical fruits, not so much. Feel free to mix and match fruits - try a sweeter fruit with a more tart partner like in the classic strawberry + rhubarb combo - and adjust the amount of sugar depending on how sweet the fruit is. And don't bother peeling! It's a waste of time and food, plus the peels will add nutrients and texture to your dish.
As for the topping, that's another good place to improvise. Oats and all-purpose flour are typical pantry ingredients, but maybe you just have graham crackers? Or maybe you want to mix sunflower and flax seeds with buckwheat flour as in this Bon Appetit recipe? Go wild. You could even try swapping coconut oil for butter for a dairy-free version. And if you make a topping you really like, try making extra and stashing it in the freezer for the next time you have extra fruit on hand.
The Rough Recipe
You can aim to feed 1 person per cup of fruit - this one feeds 6 to 8 but just scale everything down if you don't have enough fruit. It needs about 20 minutes of active time, then 30+ minutes of baking time. There are definitely delicious options with gluten-free flours, and you could try coconut oil instead of butter for a vegan/dairy-free option, although I've never tried it myself.
Here's What You'll Need:
For the fruit:
- 6 to 8 cups of the fruit of your choice, pitted and sliced if larger than cherries
- A baking dish that fits all your fruit, or individual dishes if you want to get fancy
- Brown sugar (or white, if you don't have any)
- The spices of your choice - I like just a bit of cinnamon, but you could also use nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cardamom, or even minced ginger or black pepper
- Fresh lemon juice and zest, if you have it
For the topping:
- 3/4 cups oats of your choice, but old-fashioned if you have it (if you don't have oats, increase the flour to a cup or more)
- 3/4 cup flour of your choice - a mix of all-purpose and whole grain is nice
- 1 stick of butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- Any of the above spices you want
- Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put your sliced fruit in a large bowl and toss with a sprinkling of brown sugar, a pinch of spice, and a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of zest, if using. Taste and add more sugar or acid as desired. Apples and pears will need more sugar than cherries or peaches, but remember also that the fruit will get sweeter once its baked. Transfer to a lightly greased baking dish.
Use your hands or a mixer to combine the oats and flour and then work in the butter and sugar. Add in a pinch or two of any spiced you like, then a large pinch of kosher salt. The mixture should be moistened and clumpy throughout with no dry spots - if necessary, add a bit more butter or flour.
Sprinkle the topping across the fruit - I like to leave a lot of fruit visible, but the ratios are up to you. If you have extra topping, you can bake it and use as a topping for yogurt or ice cream, or other desserts, or just pop it straight in the freezer for future crumbles.
Bake the crisp until the top is golden brown and the fruit juice is bubbling, which could take 40 minutes to an hour. Serve with something creamy and cold and enjoy.