Pies are big in the south whether it is a classic double or single crusted pie, cobbler, or fruit crisp. A fruit crisp is a like a pie, but much easier. When time is an issue this is my “go to” dessert. No pie dough to make, instead a quick mixture of butter, flour, sugar and spices is combined and sprinkled over the fruit. I also add oats and nuts which are optional but I never leave them out. I think the oats and nuts make the crisp topping by giving more depth of flavor and the all important crunch. Usually it bakes during dinner, so after dinner a delicious, warm fruit crisp awaits. Break out the essential vanilla ice cream and enjoy.
Although I consider crisps a southern dessert, they are made though out the US. The crisp is believed to be an offspring of the English crumble. The ingredients are essentially the same but in different ratios. Crumble seems to have a thinner layer of crispy topping whereas crisps seem to be chunkier. Growing up, we usually had apple crisps in the winter and blackberry or peach cobblers in the summer. I liked making cakes when I was younger and it wasn’t until I had kids that I started making crisps with seasonal fruit.
Two fruits that I love combining in a cobbler or crisp is rhubarb and blueberries. The recommended combination with rhubarb is strawberries or raspberries, which is good but my favorite combination is with blueberries. The contrast of the sweet and tart seems to have perfect flavor balance.
What is rhubarb? Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that originated in China, eventually being grown in Britain and then the US. Rhubarb was something I had only heard of until I moved to Pennsylvania. It likes a cooler climate to grow in and shows up in the local markets in the Spring until early summer. It is quite tart and requires a lot of sugar compared to other fruits. I like tart and tangy, and rhubarb does not disappoint.
- ¾ cup (75 g) all purpose unbleached flour
- ¾ cup (150 g) brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup or 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup (40 g) old fashioned oats
- ½ cup (60 g) chopped pecans or walnuts
- 2 cups (244 g) rhubarb, chopped in ½ to ¾ inch pieces
- 1½ cups (222 g) fresh or frozen blueberries
- ½ cup (96 g) white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- Vanilla ice cream or your flavor of choice, optional.
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, butter and cinnamon with a fork or you fingers until combined. Add the nuts and oats and combine. Set aside.
- Place the rhubarb and sugar in the bottom of 1½ to 2 quart baking dish. A souffle dish or a glass baking dish works well. 2 to 3 inch depth is preferable so as to allow optimal surface area for topping but not too shallow so the fruit dries out. Allow the rhubarb to sit coated with the sugar for up to a half and hour. Add the blueberries and the flour and mix. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes in the center of the oven. When the topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling, it is done.
- Serve warm with your favorite topping but vanilla ice cream is traditional.