I love the summer months when I can watch the fruit ripening on my own trees and see the stands at the market overflowing with peaches, nectarines, plums and berries. I also love that all this wonderful food can be purchased from local sources and at a much better price than at any other time of the year.
When I want dessert, but I’m feeling lazy, I’ll simply pour a handful of different kinds of berries over a little vanilla ice cream. When company is over I’ll make a pretty strawberry tart or a French-inspired apricot tart. When I want something simple but less fussy, I’ll make a crisp. Crisps are also a great dessert choice because they can be prepared in advance and placed in the oven when you serve your guests their main courses, or pre-cooked and simply reheated shortly before you want to serve the dessert course. They’re also a favorite of mine because they require relatively little sweetener, and there are numerous way to “health” them up. My favorite fruits to use in crisps are plums. I think their flavor gets greatly enhanced when baked.
At this very moment, the branches of our Shiro plum tree are drooping, weighed down by all the sweet, ripe plums. They’re too high up for me to get, even with a ladder, so I regularly need to wait for my other, taller half to get them down. The other day he picked a big bowl full with the help of my son, and after snacking on several of the plums, I decided to use the rest in a quick and easy crisp.
2 lbs ripe plums, washed, dried, halved and pitted
1 cup blueberries or blackberries, washed and dried
1-2 tbsp. cane sugar
zest of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
3/4 cup oats (quick, old-fashioned or steel-cut)
1 cup whole-grain spelt or barley flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg, ground cloves and ground ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, toss together the first five ingredients. Spread evenly in the bottom of a deep 8-inch x 8-inch or 7-inch x 10-inch baking dish. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until it is mixed thoroughly and evenly with the dry ingredients and resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the crisp and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the juices of the fruit bubble on the sides and the topping is golden brown. Let it cool slightly just so there are no scalded tongues.
Serve alone or with a dollop of whipped cream, coconut whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Want to “health up” your crisp?
– Substitute 1/4 cup of one of the flours with almond flour/meal
– Add 2 tbsp ground flax to the crumb topping
– Substitute half or more of the butter with coconut oil
– Substitute half or more of the cane sugar with coconut sugar crystals
– Substitute finely chopped dates for a portion of the sugar if you don’t want so much added sugar