Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I often crave a fruit crumble. It lets me enjoy seasonal fruit with a bit of texture, has fewer calories than pie - and is easier and faster to make than a pie. There was a time when I used to make pies - especially cherry pies. (Maybe I took the song too seriously - "can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?") I have made few pies since I discovered Whitty's - the best "looks and tastes like home-made" pies ever. When debating whether to hide in the kitchen, make pastry and a pie, and wait while it bakes and cools - versus a drive in Niagara wine country, coming home with fab pies - well, it's easy to see which side wins. I have several "crumble" recipes in my files, but this one seems fool proof and i have already used it often as a way of using the wonderful fresh ingredients appearing at our local markets. The recipe comes from @thekitchn.  The original site is worth a visit since it has many "process" photos, but here I have included my tips for this versatile recipe. By using a food processor, I can make this in a jiffy! Serves 6 to 8

Heat oven to 375°F. Baking dish: must be glass, ceramic, or another non-reactive material; 8 x 8", or 9 x 9", or 9" pie dish

Fruit filling: If necessary, dice the fruit into bite-sized pieces, removing any stems, seeds, or inedible parts. Toss the fruit with sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and any spices.

Use more sugar and less lemon juice when cooking with tart fruits, like rhubarb and blackberries, and less sugar but more lemon juice for sweet fruits, like peaches and plums. Best is to taste a piece of fruit and adjust to taste. Use more cornstarch with very juicy fruits like plums and less with firm fruits like apples. Pour the fruit filling into the baking dish.

 

6 to 7 cups fruit, enough to almost fill pan

1/2 to 1 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
1 to 3 tsp lemon juice, to taste
1 to 3 TB cornstarch, depending on juiciness of fruit
1 tsp spice, - e.g. cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg (optional)

Crumble topping: Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt for the crumble topping. Cut the butter into a few large pieces and toss these in the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients until large heavy crumbs are formed. Scatter the crumble over the fruit.

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces) brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
8 TB (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (see Tips below)

Bake the crumble for 30 to 35 minutes until the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges of the pan and the topping is firm to the touch.

Cool and store the crumble: Let the crumble cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. If transporting to a picnic or party, let the crumble cool completely to give the fruit filling time to set. Crumbles will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week. Serve cold, room temperature, or re-warmed in a low oven for 20 minutes.


Notes and Tips...

  • Baking dish - I used a dish that is 10" x 6" and 1 3/4" deep. Even the smallest they suggested - 8 x 8 - equals 64 sq inches, and mine is only 60 sq inches.  I therefore went with the lesser amount of fruit -  6 cups; 
  • Filling -  I used only 1/2 cup sugar (part of the goal of reducing sugar, plus the fruit flavour would get masked with too much sugar); I used about 1.5 TB corn starch because I wanted the fruit to be juicy, not overly thick and jammy - mind you it depends on the fruit and preference; crumble that comes out of the oven looking "runny" does become more "thick" about an hour after cooling - if you can wait that long; I used a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Crumble - I have no patience for working the crumble with fingers, fork or pastry cutter. I used my food processor. I suppose the danger is that losing control of the quality of the mixture can happen very quickly. I plopped all the dry ingredients in first and gave them a whiz to mix them. I then added the butter and pulsed on and off until achieving a crumbly consistency. The first time I made this I had already brought the butter to room temperature - too much processing would have turned the mixture into a peanut butter type texture - phew - was careful not to do that. Now I use butter that has been out of the fridge only briefly.
  • Bake - I have had success baking this for 25 minutes. The fruit and the crumble come very close to the lip of the baking dish I use. During baking it begins to boil and bubble, and after cooling it drops down a bit. So far, I have been lucky it did not spill over the lip of the dish. If that's a concern, place some foil at the bottom of the oven to catch drips. 

Additional Notes from @thekitchn:

  • Using a 9x13-inch pan: Increase the fruit to 10 to 11 cups, adjusting the other filling ingredients to match. Increase all the crumble topping ingredients by half (1 1/2 cups flour, etc.), except for the baking powder.
  • To make a crisp: Add 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats or 1/2 cup chopped nuts (or both) to the topping.
  • To make a cobbler: Press the crumbs into biscuit-sized patties and arrange them in a single layer over the fruit.
  • Flour substitutions: Try subbing another flour for all or some of the all-purpose flour in this recipe. Almond flour, spelt flour, and barley flour would all make delicious crumbles and cobblers.
  • Sugar Substitutions: Swap the brown sugar for white sugar for a lighter flavor, especially for cobblers. Feel free to experiment with other sugars in your cupboard as well.

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