Despite being a pie-fanatic (fact: I entered an apple pie baking contest with a friend of mine in college and we won 3rd prize!), my small New York apartment is not so pie-friendly. Let me explain—tile countertops with grout do not make for a good pie rolling surface. I actually registered for a marble pastry board for my wedding, which I was overjoyed to receive, only to discover that I had no room in my apartment for something that weighs half a ton. Carrying the marble board back to New York from New Jersey (where my in-laws kindly store almost all of our wedding gifts) on the train would have also been a challenge. So alas, these days I am much more inclined to make crisps and crumbles.
Over the past few years I’ve come up with a fast and easy crisp topping that is consistently great. I use this topping for apple cranberry crisps in the fall and for berry crisps in the summer and spring. The topping comes together in seconds in the food processor and it can be stored in an air-tight container in the freezer for months. Don’t be concerned if your topping appears to be very dry or crumbly, the baking process helps to bring it together. This filling includes rhubarb, strawberries, orange zest, just enough sugar, and a small amount of tapioca starch because strawberries have a high water content, which can lead to a very runny filling if you don’t add a thickener. I prefer to use tapioca as opposed to cornstarch because it dissolves very easily and also thickens at a lower temperature, but you can use either if you don’t have tapioca starch. —Pippa Riley
dark brown sugar, packed
unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pea-sized pieces
Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
rhubarb, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
Move a rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the flour, rolled oats, salt and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is coarse and crumbly looking.
Set aside or place in the freeze in an airtight container (the topping can go directly from the freezer to the oven once you are ready to bake your crisp; there is no need to defrost it).
Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
In a large mixing bowl, carefully toss the rhubarb, sliced strawberries, granulated sugar, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the filling to an 8x8 glass baking dish.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the topping is just beginning to turn golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
Let the crisp cool for 20-25 minutes before serving. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.