(Seriously, I wasn't kidding when I said that I would reference movies with ridiculous post titles.)
I love pies. The flaky buttery crusts, warm fruit or nut fillings, and with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Who doesn't love pies? (I can think of two of my best friends who just said "No" in their heads. I'll deal with you fools later.) Pumpkin, pecan, apple, sour cherry... I could go on forever. But, sometimes, so can the pie-making process. Not all pies require a few hours work -- my easy chocolate pudding pie takes about 20 minutes to be spoon ready (look for a post in the future).
Certain fruit pies, especially the all-American classic apple pie, can be a bit time-consuming for the average cook if you start from scratch. So much so that whenever my mom gets to making apple pies at Thanksgiving, she makes 3 or 4 at a time because it is quite a bit of work for just one pie. To those with a concern for time and convenience, I humbly offer up the easily forgotten and sometimes under appreciated concept of the fruit crisp (also known as a crumble).
Pie - crusts + butter/sugar crumb topping = crisp = crumble
Peeled, cut up fruit is usually tossed with spices and a bit of lemon juice, poured in a baking dish, and topped with a mixture of butter, sugar, oats, and spices. Sound good? Mmm hmm. Even better, no worrying about blind-baking pie shells, or accidentally burning pie crusts... a crisp is assembled, baked, and served warm with little expertise needed. And it's what I'd call a great "come home from work and need to bake something now" treat. In other words, no prepping hours before and using standard ingredients found in most pantries. Without further ado, let's get to it!
Apple and Pear Crisp
(adapted from Ina Garten aka The Barefoot Contessa)
Note: I halved this recipe and used a 9" x 5" glass baking dish with success.
2 pounds ripe Bosc pears (4 pears)
2 pounds firm Gala apples (6 apples)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
Preheat oven to 350F. Peel, core, and cut the pears and apples into large (about 1") chunks. Place fruit in a large bowl and add lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss so that the fruit is evenly coated with the spices and lemon juice:
Pour into 9" x 13" glass baking dish.
For the topping, it is important that the butter is cold or else you'll end up creaming the warm butter and sugar mixture - not good. Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If using a hand mixer, regular beaters are fine. If using a pastry blender, more power to ya.) Mix on low speed for 1 minute, or until the mixture is in large crumbles (pea to marble-sized). Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, making sure to cover completely.
Place the baking dish on a sheet pan covered with foil (because fruit tends to bake up and bubble over and oven messes are no picnic) and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Place on cooling rack for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm. Add some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for an extra treat.
If there is one thing to take away from this post, it's that crisps/crumbles are so so so easy! I would trust my dear dad to make this recipe and not worry about hovering over him in the kitchen. It's a quick but very hearty and impressive dessert. And it's comfort food to the core (ha ha, apples and pears, get it? get it?).