Tuesday, January 10, 2012

easy mix-n-match crumble recipe [lower-fat]

In my "clear out my pantry" crumble, I used a combination of bagged organic gala apples, and the remnants of bags of frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Crumbles are so easy to throw together; I don't know why I don't make them more often. Besides being a tasty way to work more fruit into your diet, especially during these long winter months, they are also quite forgiving: crumbles taste just as comforting whether you use fresh fruit, frozen, or a combination. They lend themselves beautifully to improvisation, and with the exception of some sugar and Earth Balance, fruit crumbles can be relatively healthy. They are perfect for lazy cooks and the recipe-phobic, as well as novice and anarchistic bakers.

My issue with most crumbles is that the usual grease-laden toppings tend to detract from the pure, fresh flavors of the fruit. I was shocked to note that most crumble recipes call for a 1/2 cup of butter or margarine! In this modular recipe, I reduced the fat to just 2 T of Earth Balance for a 6-serving crumble with great success. You just don't miss it because the fruit takes center stage, with crunchy oats playing a strong supporting role. You may even be able to get away with less fat, especially if you are using nuts. [Of course, you can always add more if you're throwing caution to the wind.]

This modular crumble recipe is really an anti-recipe. You can mix, match, ignore and embellish my instructions to your heart's content, and you will still wind up with a warming, phytonutrient-packed breakfast – or dessert when topped with a scoop of non-dairy ice cream.

Some flavor combination ideas:

  • Peach-Raspberry
  • Mango-Pineapple [Use coconut oil for the full tropical experience]
  • Apple-Pear-Almond
  • Mixed Berry [strawberry, raspberry. blueberry, blackberry]
  • Pistachio-Plum

An interesting factoid before we begin. Adding a bit of baking soda when baking with fruit [eg, crumbles, pies, cobblers] neutralizes the acid and allows you to cut back on the amount of sugar. For this reason, I added 1/2 tsp baking soda to my crumble.

Mix-n-Match Crumble
Fruit layer:

  • 3-4 cups fruit, fresh or frozen [eg, peeled apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, mangoes; raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, pineapple]
  • 1 T sugar, white or brown
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 tsp of any combination of the following: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamon, pumpkin pie spice, mace
  • A squirt [about 1 tsp] of any citrus juice
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange, lime or lemon [optional, but adds a wonderful freshness]
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt

Crumble topping:

  • 1/4 cup flour [Any kind will do: whole wheat, gluten-free, spelt, white]
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3-4 T sugar, brown or white
  • 2 T Earth Balance, cubed or 2 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts [optional]

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie pan, or an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Cut larger fruits, like apples or pears, into berry-sized dice. Mix all prepared fruit in a medium bowl with other fruit layer ingredients, and pour into your prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix all crumble ingredients. Squish in the Earth Balance with your fingers or a pastry cutter, but don't get too obsessed about mixing it all in. Small clumps are fine. Scatter crumble topping above fruit layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden. I think crumbles taste best when served warm.

Note: Nutrition information may vary. Above is based on 1 cup blueberries, 1 large gala apple, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/2 cup strawberries and no nuts, baked in a 9-inch pie pan.


foodfeud said...

Awesome! you totally did it! It looks great. Crumbles are usually both too sweet and too greasy for me; thanks for the tip about the baking soda too!

Carla said...

We always make a crumble intending it for dessert (although we call it a 'crisp' to denote oatiness) and end up nibbling away at it by 10am the next morning.

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Anonymous said...

If using frozen fruit, should it be thawed first? I can't wait to make this!