02 May 2011

Spring has arrived!

Well folks, this weekend was gorgeous. We're talking sunshine, bike rides, working in the garden, even dragging an extension cord into the garden to work on my computer while basking in the afternoon sun. And then we found a sparrow's nest with three tiny blue speckled eggs nestled in our cedar. I mean, c'mon! Spring in Seattle, what could be better?! And to top it all off, a quart of strawberries found their way into our fridge.


Now some, when faced with strawberries, will sprinkle sugar and pour cream. In fact I did just that last week and enjoyed my evening thoroughly. But this being Sunday night, the night before Monday morning you know, it seemed of paramount importance to do something a little more decadent, a little more gooey, a little more like... a crumble. If you've ever made a crumble then you know that you can take a few ingredients that you almost certainly have in your cupboard and in about 5 minutes of prep work and 40 minutes in the oven, your evening is transformed into a thing of sweet, savory, crumbly goodness. This is one of the easiest desserts you can make, and while it isn't exactly healthy (hooray for butter!) it does have fruit in it and, as I discovered, you can include whole wheat and oatmeal to trick yourself into thinking you're eating health food. Ooh, I just wish I could have recorded the sweet sound of strawberry juices bubbling and the topping crackling when it came out of the oven!


I've made many a crumble, as well as a crisp and a cobbler, and this is one of my favorites in that department. If I were going with a cobbler it would be this one by Molly at Orangette with a bit of cream in the biscuit. It is delicious and you should absolutely try it. But on Sunday I was looking for quick and easy immediate gratification. And oh boy did I get it! The beauty of this particular recipe is not only that it's like a big crumbly oatmeal cookie on top of soft, juicy strawberries, but that you can modify it endlessly to fit whatever you have on hand. For sweetening the fruit you can use honey, agave nectar or sugar and the fruit can be anything from berries to apples to peaches.



You can use more or less fruit depending on what you have on hand. Throw in all-purpose flour or go farmer's market chic and use spelt or emmer (though I probably wouldn't recommend rye). If you feel like throwing caution to the wind you can do what I did and dot the top with butter half-way through baking (hey, we'd biked 25 miles in the morning, we needed to replenish our calories!) or you can be responsible and really not miss it too much. In any case, you will enjoy every spoonful before bed and again the next morning for breakfast.


Strawberry Crumble
(Serves 2-4)

Fruit
1 Quart Strawberries or other fruit of choice, sliced in halves, quarters or smaller
1/3 cup (or so) sugar or honey (I used vanilla cane sugar - I'll post the incredibly simple recipe soon!)

Topping
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup butter, cool but not cold, cut into squares
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional - I didn't use because of the vanilla sugar, otherwise I would recommend it)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Slice your strawberries and toss with sugar/honey and lay in the bottom of an ungreased 8x8 glass cake pan or casserole dish.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the topping ingredients and pulse until butter is evenly distributed. Oats will not be completely chopped.

If you don't have a food processor you can do this by hand. Simply work the butter into the flour with your fingers until it is evenly distributed and covered in flour. You want the bits to be tiny balls, as small as possible, so this can take 5-10 minutes.  This is where it is easiest if the butter is cool but not cold. Cold butter is harder to work into small pieces while warm butter will be too melty and soft, creating a differently textured mix than we're going for.

Pour over the top of the strawberries and distribute in an even layer.

Place on middle rack in oven and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes. You may want to place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any juices that boil over if you're using a shallow pan.


Now this step is important, even though you won't want to do it. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving. The fruit juices are literally boiling when you pull this out and you will burn yourself terribly. Plus, the topping needs a chance to cool and become cookie-like. It's difficult but worth it. Take it from someone who has seared her taste-buds on more than one occasion. 

This is delicious served on it's own, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. It is equally fantastic (maybe even more so) reheated for breakfast and at a potluck it will disappear even before official dessert time. 

Enjoy, and let me know how yours turns out!

2 comments:

  1. looks super tasty, imma have to try it :D

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  2. Thanks Maud'Dib! It's really delish; let me know how yours turns out!

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