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In the Kitchen with Ricky: Summer fruit crisp

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

Summer fruit is here! We’ve had berries, rhubarb and cherries, and now peaches are just about ready. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the plethora of local fruit that we have available at our fingertips than by making a fresh fruit crisp. So, this week’s recipe is for just that.

In the photos of the one I made, I used a combination of halved local strawberries and rhubarb for a very classic pairing. I topped it with vanilla ice cream, and to me, this was the epitome of summer. I like to make a big batch of the crumb topping up and keep it in the freezer throughout the summer and early fall. This way, whenever I stumble upon some of the local fresh fruit, I can quickly and very easily make a simple crisp to highlight the flavor of the season.

Have you ever wondered what differentiates a crumble from a crisp? Well, they’re both an easy and delicious deep-dish fruit dessert with a streusel-like topping, but a crisp will usually have rolled oats in the mix. The oats crisp up nicely when they soak up all that butter and toast during baking. I prefer crisps, especially with softer fruit such as berries, stone fruit or even pumpkin and winter squash, as the crisped oats provide a little more texture. Apples and pears have a bit of a bite themselves, so I make both crumbles and crisps with those.

For even more added texture, feel free to add some chopped nuts into your topping mix. Pecans go great with peaches, and I love pistachio with cherries, while walnuts scream fall and tend to go nicely with apples, pears, and pumpkin.

I’m so excited to get up to Hidden Acres Orchards on Greenbluff in the coming weeks to pick the in-season fruit that they have bursting on their trees. I hope you make a stop up to Greenbluff and get a hold of whatever you-pick produce they have at that time. Enjoy the bounty of the season.

Summer Fruit Crisp

For the topping:

¾ cup brown sugar, packed (I prefer dark)

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, plus extra for coating pan

For the filling:

3-4 pounds fresh fruit, cleaned and peeled (if using peaches, pears, or apples) and sliced in ½-inch pieces

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ cup granulated sugar

Zest and juice from 1 small or medium lemon

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons of butter, cubed

In a bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, mixing until well combined.

Using your fingers, quickly combine cold butter into the topping mixture. Press and work until crumbly and then set in the fridge for at least an hour or up to one week. You can also make a big batch of this and freeze the mixture for up to three months. Use directly from the freezer when making a crisp.

When you’re ready to make your crisp, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using additional butter, butter a baking dish, equivalent to a 9-inch square pan, and set aside.

Add all cleaned and prepped fruit to a large bowl.

Sprinkle cornstarch over the fruit and then add lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar.

Toss to coat and then add, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Stir filling after 10 minutes and add it to the prepared baking dish.

Top with chunks of cubed butter.

Sprinkle your cold, already prepared crumb topping evenly to top of your fruit mixture.

Bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on your size) or until golden brown.

Serve hot out of the oven, at room temperature, or cooled.

Top will vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream for an even more decadent treat.

Yield: 6-10 servings

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