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Author Notes: This fruit crumble was conceived in the wake of my infatuation with the tart crust method transmitted by Dave Lebowitz (here on genius recipes titled “Paule Caillat’s brown butter tart crust”). The method derives from outside the box of all pastry crusts. After I made it the first time, I immediately wondered what it would be like if I added some almond flour and corn meal to it, but for fear of ruining the whole pastry crust concept i decided to experiment with a sort of variant as a crumble topping. It was so good as a crumble— sturdier than a streusel and more like a sort of almond cookie— that I have yet to try the variant as a pie crust though I think it might work; but I’ve been making the crumble ever since.
I’ve used all different combinations of soft summer fruit but always with at least half cherries, adding in whatever other soft fruit I have in the kitchen – plums, peaches, blueberries or blackberries and occasionally a handful of dried fruit, raisins or cut up dried plums. There is minimal sugar in the topping and I have not been adding any sugar to the fruit at all; the condensed juices from the cherries is a perfections of sweetness. (NB it needs the ripe cherries because most other fruits don't have enough sweetness by themselves to make it work with no added sugar.)
You might not think any of this will work at all but it does. I've also used pecans for the nut component and that is also startlingly delicious.
- 1/4 cup butter (I use salted but use your own judgment)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon water
- 3 tablespoons white or semirefined or light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or use the cap from the almond extract bottle)
- 1/2 cup flour (use some whole wheat if you want)
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup coarse corn meal
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups sliced soft fruit including at least half pitted sweet cherries and any combination of sliced plums, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, or any other ripe summer berries.
- I use a nine inch glass pie plate for this, well buttered. Begin by putting the four cups of prepared fruit into your buttered dish. Turn the oven on to 400.
- In an oven safe glass or metal bowl, put butter, oil, water, and sugar and set in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until it bubbles and butter is just beginning to brown at the edges of the bowl.
- While it is heating, combine corn meal, almond meal, flour and salt. When you see the butter start to brown, remove bowl from the oven, add almond extract and stir.
- Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and stir. Add sliced almonds last, delicately stirring them into the dough, which will be soft at first but firms up quickly as it cools.
- Crumble this topping over the prepared fruits and press it down a little with your hands. Bake till fruit bubbles and topping is brown, about 25-30 minutes. Cool before eating.