Sometimes life gets too darn busy and certain things fall by the wayside. Like, say for instance, blog postings (mea culpa, mea culpa). So when you want to bake something special, but are feeling swamped with too many responsibilities, big and small, a simple and uncomplicated dessert is so very much appreciated. If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, one thing is probably very clear--I don't make too many things that require too much fuss. Of course, there are always special occasions that I am more than happy to spend a little extra time and creativity on. But, for the most part, I love recipes that come together fairly easily and quickly, so long as they are full of flavor. Segue to this decidedly un-fussy yet delicious crumble, just right for the cooler weather, made even better by the addition of oats, nuts and barley flour...practically guilt-free! The sweet nectarines and tart raspberries compliment each other perfectly. The pumpkin seeds in the topping provide a salty, crunchy foil to the tang of the fruit (and I simply adore their gorgeous green color). Unsophisticated? Perhaps, but delectable with some good-for-you-delicious tweaks thrown in because, well, that's how I roll (wink, wink), and oh-so-special to me because it comes together in a flash. In my book, a perfect dessert.
Crumbles...indulgent yet informal. They've saved my tush on more than one occasion where I'm in a last-minute pinch (my usual modus operandi) for dessert, either here at the house with guests expected any moment, or as a take-along treat to dinner with friends. I've made them all times of the year, adjusting the fruit as the seasons provide. Experiment with your favorite combinations of fruit, or simply use one kind if you are blessed with a bounty. Some of my favorite combinations include blueberries and mango, strawberries and rhubarb, blackberries and peach, apple and quince, and, as featured in this recipe, raspberries and nectarines.
I also vary the nuts used in the topping to match the fruit. Almonds with the blueberries and strawberries, pecans or walnuts with the apple, or pepitas, which I am especially fond of. They aren't that exciting to snack on on their own, but I love them in baked goods. I also use them in savory dishes, but usually toast them first for those un-sweet additions. Pepitas are full of health benefits, but I love them even more because they taste so darn good when baked or toasted, and are so beautiful. I use them too in my granola, pumpkin bread and breakfast cookie recipes (postings to follow at a later date).
The original inspiration for this recipe came from a tried and true favorite dessert cookbook from Williams and Sonoma, titled simply Desserts from their New Healthy Kitchen series. I substituted almond oil for half of the butter called for in the original recipe. Almond oil is great for baking and it is a heart-healthy fat. You can find it online, in the Health section of your local grocery store, or at Whole Foods. I use it in many recipes where I want just that extra subtle boost of nut flavor. I also used one of my favorite whole wheat flours, barley flour, for the all-purpose flour. It is another way to add some extra dimension as whole wheat flours lend a more complex, full and nutty flavor than all-purpose flour. The old fashioned oats impart that lovely chew and crunch that is de rigueur for a crumble, at least for me. The health benefits of both the whole wheat flour and oats speak for themselves.
I always think it is a good idea to taste all of the fruit to be used in a recipe before you bake or cook with it. That way, you know how much natural sugar is in the fruit, and then how much extra sugar to add. The nectarines I bought were super sweet and the raspberries were perfectly tart, so I was able to get by with less sugar.
I also added in some spices to make things a little more interesting. The ground coriander and ginger provide just a hint of exotic, which pairs so nicely with the nectarines and raspberries. The spices, of course, can always be adjusted to your liking and fruit choice. Although the crumble is luscious on its own, I decided to add just a little bit of dessert bling with some very small scoops of whipped cream (cute little balls from my smallest scooper) and some diced candied ginger (please don't write me about the whipped cream...I know it is an indulgence, but even though the photos don't show it, the serving bowls and scoops were very small, making this an acceptable portion size, really). Handling the ginger is a little easier if you add a sprinkle of sugar to the pieces as you are dicing. The sugar clings to the freshly exposed and sticky surfaces of the ginger, making them less likely to clump.
Fruity, tangy, crunchy, creamy, spicy, tasty and....easy! OK...and peasy. Crumbles, it's plain and simple...I heart you!
Raspberry Nectarine Crumble:
3 large nectarines, small dice
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 - 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 cup barley flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup almond oil
Preheat oven to 325 degress F.
In a medium bowl, toss the diced nectarines, raspberries, cornstarch and 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your fruit is and/or how sweet you want the crumble). Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the flour, oats, pumpkin seeds, coriander, ginger and salt. Pour the butter and almond oil over the dry mixture, and stir to evenly distribute.
Place the fruit in a large shallow dish, approximately 12 to 14 inches across. Cover with the crumble mixture. Bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. Serve with a small dollop of whipped cream and sprinkles of candied ginger if desired.
Note: the recipe makes a fairly large amount of crumble. If you want more fruit peeking through and/or less crumble, use less of the topping, reserving extra in the refrigerator for a later date or another recipe.