Here’s a sure fire way to get compliments on your 4th of July dessert. Make a fruit crisp. They are easy to make and there are all kinds of variations that help to make them extremely versatile. First thing will be to get out to your local Farmers Market and pick up some nice fresh fruit. Peaches, apricots, pulots and plums are in season here in northern California. I love apricots, so that’s what I chose for my crisp.
Just out of curiosity, I decided to see what my mentor, James Beard, had to say about crisps. I know everyone’s more familiar with Julia Child, especially since the movie, but James has always been my favorite. His cookbook is one of the few, on my shelves, that I still use, both as a reference guide and for a few recipes that have become favorites. And, yes Julia’s books are there too.
Fruit Crisp or Crumb Pie
American Cookery ©1972
“These are often made without a crust and served as a pudding topped with whipped cream or ice cream.
Place the fruit in an unbaked shell with fluted edges. Melt the butter in a 1 ½ to 2 quart saucepan. Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar, flour, spices, and salt. The amount of sugar will depend on the type of fruit used. Apricots and some tart plums may take more sugar. Apples, pears, peaches and prunes may take slightly less than 1 cup. Brown sugar is generally preferred for apples, peaches, and pears. The amount of spice will depend upon taste. Cinnamon is generally used for apples; nutmeg, mace or allspice is good with peaches or apricots. Add just a suggestion of clove along with cinnamon and nutmeg to prunes or plums. Pears are good with the addition of ½ teaspoon ginger. Scatter the mixture over the fruit. And bake the pie about 30 to 40 minutes in a 400-degree oven, or until the topping is crusty and the fruit is tender. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or ice cream, if you like.”
The version I have developed is a little different from James’, in that I use oatmeal and nuts in the crumble topping and I never use a bottom crust. But I still refer to James for ideas on how to substitute other fruits and seasonings and how much sugar to add. You can also vary from pecans by trying walnuts or almonds. If you really want to get decadent try macadamia nuts in the topping with pears as the fruit and maybe just a hint of cardamon. You’ll also note in my recipe that I didn’t use any spice although James recommends allspice. I really just like the apricots on their own.
Annie’s Apricot Crisp
4 – 5 cups apricots cut in halves (about 15 apricots)
¼ cup sugar
1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Mix ingredients together and place in a lightly greased 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
½ cup butter
½ brown sugar
½ cup flour (I use oat flour, but you can use wheat or white)
½ cup Old Fashioned oats
1 cup chopped pecans
Mix together in a small bowl. I use a pastry cutter to mix this together as it keeps the ingredients in a more crumbly texture. Squeeze the topping into chunks and scatter over apricots (see photo of what I like the texture to look like)
Bake in a 350° oven for about 40 – 50 minutes or until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling.
Serve warm if possible, with ice cream, whipped cream or if it’s breakfast or brunch time try serving it with unflavored Greek yogurt.
Have a wonderful holiday everyone!