July 16, 2015

An Ideal Summer Berry Crisp

I suffer from grill-envy in the summer months. Small apartment-living has its perks (much less surface area to clean!) but that ability to transfer all my cooking to the deck when all you want is some breeze-action, is nonexistent. My solution? Focus on All The Berries.

One of my favorite summer desserts is a nice berry crisp, but not just any crisp. The topping has to be, for me, not soggy, almost cookie-like, and the filling, not cloyingly sweet. So I add a bit of baking powder to the topping, use salted butter and am sure to stud it with oats. For the filling, a little red wine and less sugar is what takes the berries into standout territory.

It’s taken a bit of experimentation to come up with one worthy of grill-distraction, one that makes you feel like, yes, turning on the oven at 8:30 pm for 40 minutes on a humid Sunday night was worth it (it’s a nice cue to step into the shower at least). After the crisp comes out, the oven is off and the crisp cools a bit, you will be tucking into a dessert that barely requires forethought, uses the jewels of summer produce, and one certainly easier to handle than pie. Garnish plates with a dollop of cream fraiche, whipped cream or even ice cream for textural contrast. Enjoy!


Serves about 4

Filling adapted from Super Natural Everyday, Topping adapted from Rock Recipes



1/4 cup ShopRite unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 cup spelt flour (or use all all-purpose)

1/2 cup ShopRite rolled oats

scant 1/4 cup ShopRite brown sugar

1/2 tsp ShopRite baking powder

Few swipes lemon zest

small pinch of salt

6 Tbsp cold, cubed salted ShopRite butter


1 1/2 teaspoons all-natural cornstarch

2 1/2 Tablespoons ( 3/4 oz) natural cane sugar or muscovado sugar

2 1/4 cup of berries / fruit – mix of ripe, pitted cherries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, rhubarb etc.

~scant 2 Tbsp jammy red wine, like port or a fruity pinot


Heat the oven to 360 and lightly grease a ceramic or glass baking dish of about 8 inches. A small-ish oval baker is a good size. Begin by making the filling. Stir together flours, salt, oats, zest, baking powder and sugar. Pinch in butter with fingers until incorporated into a mass. Don’t overwork. It should look like a rough cookie dough ball. Place in fridge while you make filling.

In a large bowl stir cornstarch and sugar. Toss in fruit, and wait three minutes. Then add the wine and toss again. Transfer berry mixture to prepared dish. Remove topping from fridge and break off pieces the size of your thumb top. Scatter those on top of the berries but don’t press down.

Place in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling. Remove to a wire rack and cool at least 15-20 minutes before scooping servings. Serve alongside creme fraiche, a dollop of whipped cream or Greek yogurt.

Mer Berry crop

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