Call it a crisp or call it a crumble, it's one of the best food ideas to ever have come out of merry old England. It is simple to prepare, involves enough steps to keep children interested, and uses no choppers or blenders. In the words of a central New York mom, "It was easy to cook and clean up, too." Lynda Hannan of Cincinnati reported, "This was great served slightly warm, and I have to say it was mighty tasty cold from the fridge the next morning. . . . Enough of these evil desserts!! This one was totally delicious-- I just scraped the last bit out of the pan and it did a fast vanishing act!"
- 1 large baking dish
- 1 quart blueberries or 1 quart blackberries
- 4 large peaches, peeled and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup of flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 8 ounces butter
- 3/4 nuts, coarsely chopped (your choice)
First, of course, gather your berries. This can be from your freezer or from the field. The latter is best done early in the morning before the sun gets too high and everybody is still fresh and full of vigor. Blackberries and peaches tend to ripen at about the same time which may allow for two-team harvesting. There is nothing quite like coming into an orchard of ripe peaches: Smell permeates the air; Flies buzz around the fallen fruit; Kids run around, indulging on the fresh treats.
Blackberries on the other hand require a more circumspect approach. They are picked with great care because their thorns are a point to be reckoned with, the flies of the orchards are more likely to bees and running is greatly discouraged.
Obviously the other option is to go to the market and buy these items. Mom LaClair says, "It is soccer season, no time!" and as Beth W. discovered," I was unable to find frozen blackberries, so we used blueberries."
However you come by them, please wash them gently. Even if you pick the berries deep in the back woods, the occasional pebble is an unwelcome surprise and, well, pesticides are everywhere.
The adult on board should peel, pit and slice or chunk the peaches, although a Nebraska mom says "four boys used butter knives and this was just fine. I was comfortable with them using these and they were sharp enough to cut though the peaches." The youngsters may combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon and then mix it with the fruits. Christine, age 4, "loved stirring and eating as she went." If your are using particularly juicy fruit, you will need to add a tad more flour to bind. The mixing is best done gently as whole berries are preferable, so caution the younger children against beating the mixture, a natural tendency. This concoction must somehow get into the baking dish-- pour it, spoon it, scoop it by hand, do whatever makes you most comfortable.
The topping comes next. With a fork or pastry cutter, blend the flour into the butter until it becomes the consistency of peameal or very coarse corn meal. Blend in brown sugar, small amounts at a time. Remember to hold back the nuts and oatmeal or they will become a fragment of their former selves and loose the crunchy chewy texture that is the essence of the 'crisp / crumble'. They are added last and the whole goopy thing is laid to rest on top of the fruit mixture.
The adult may then slide the dish into a 350 oven for about 45 minutes or until the crisp browns and the fruit bubbles.
Because of the high natural sugar content, cool down for quite a while, until just warm. Then ladle into a bowl and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream." The cooling was hard. They were ready to taste their masterpiece, but they waited...the consensus was deeeelish!," declared Beth W on this final stage.
- Leftover fruits make great smoothies!
- Just apples with a little extra cinnamon is a perfect autumn rendition of this dessert.
- Peach pits contain cyanide and therefore should not be left lying about.
- Remember, the nose knows when most dishes are coming to done.
TAKE IT FROM ME: "Next time I make this, I will halve the topping recipe. I thought it was a little heavy. Anything with two sticks of butter is a little scary on the ol' fatometer. We used frozen fatfree whipped topping for a low-calorie alternative to the ice cream offered." --The Hannans