By Rose McAvoy
Here’s to a healthy and happy Independence Day! May it be a day when we take a break from the issues that divide us and come together to reflect on the good in each other. Let us mark the holiday by sharing smiles and shaking hands with our neighbors. Even if it is just for one day let us be the people we are pledged to be in our nation’s founding document. Let us see each other as truly created equal, and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If I may add my own amendment – let us use our freedoms to do good. Freedom is not free if it is used to justify harming those we do not (or choose not to) understand.
While you plan your festivities and menu for the Fourth of July, you might be thinking of including a pie. Pie on the Fourth ranks right up there with hometown parades and curling up on a blanket to watch the night sky burst into shimmering color. At the risk of rocking the entire lexicon of Americana I suggest you consider a fruit crumble as an alternative to the beloved double crusted fruit pastry. I doubly suggest a crumble if you are more likely to bake one at home versus buying a pie at the grocery store.
A crumble is a quick way to create a fruit-filled dessert. It is far less fussy than a pie. It is hard to go wrong with a mix of summery berries and buttery cookie-esq topping. Unlike many baking projects the chemistry for a crumble is very forgiving. The measurements can be rounded up or down a smidge, you can use a single type of fruit or a hodgepodge like I did. If your filling is a little runny just serve it in a bowl with a spoon. This is also a great way to use fruit that is looking a little tired after a day or two too long in the refrigerator. And remember – in my book, when paired with protein-packed yogurt, leftover crumble is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food!
A note about the ingredients: There is not much added sugar in this crumble. I get really frustrated when a fruit dessert is smothered in sugar completely overshadowing the natural flavor of the primary ingredients. When used in a recipe sugar, like salt, is a flavor enhancer not a flavor. At least that is my not so humble opinion. In the case of this berry crumble I wanted to taste the fruit and graham cracker (which bring their own sweetness to the recipe) thus, I used a minimal amount of additional sugar.
Graham Crusted Mixed Berry Crumble
Graham cracker crumbs and oats top this summery dessert resulting in a sort of upside down mixed berry pie. The forgiving nature of fruit crumbles makes this a great recipe for all bakers from novice to expert. Serve on its own or add a bit of whipped cream, yogurt, or ice cream.
Prep time: 20 minutes, Cooking time: 45 minutes; Yield 8 servings
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 lb (2 1/2 cups) chopped strawberries
- 1/2 lb (2 cups) chopped rhubarb
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup raw sugar (may substitute brown sugar)
- 1 rounded tablespoon rice flour (may substitute all purpose flour)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers, approximately 6 squares
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 10 or more small cubes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and have a 13 x 9 baking dish standing by.
2. Prepare the fruit – Wash fruit and chop the strawberries and rhubarb into bite size pieces. Combine the fruit in a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice, sugar and flour. Pour the fruit into a 13 x 9 baking dish in an even layer. Tip: if your baking dish has high sides you can combine the fruit in the dish and skip the large bowl.
3. Prepare the crumble topping – In a medium mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients, use a fork to blend everything together. Use a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers to work the butter cubes into the dry mixture. Work the butter into small pieces until there are no large chunks and mixture resembles damp sand.
4. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering the fruit evenly. Place the crumble into the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. The finished crumble will be bubbling around the edges and have a deep golden crust.
5. Allow the crumble to cool before serving.
Approximate nutrition per serving: 208 calories, 7 g. fat, 36 g. carbohydrates, 3.7 g. fiber, 2.7 g. protein, PP = 6