Crisp is pie’s shabby-chic, laid-back cousin who opts for hugs over handshakes. Recipes vary on: baking dish (I like a 9” cake pan for its depth); fruit thickness (I like slouchy but not runny); and streusel amount (I like a thick blanket). What they have in common is that they’re sweet. Like, super sweet. Enter our workaround: Toss the pears with freshly ground black pepper for floral, warm spice. Salt the oat streusel, generously. And instead of serving with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream, just set out some cream—or, you know, a lot of cream—to pour and pour on top. —Emma Laperruque
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is part of Change The Way You Cook, a new series to help anyone (yes, you!) become smarter, faster, and more freewheeling in the kitchen. —The Editors
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 9” cake pan with unsalted butter. Set it on a lined sheet tray.
Make the fruit filling. Combine the pears, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, black pepper, and salt in a bowl. Gingerly toss with a spoon (or your hands!) until combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan.
Add 1 cup oats, plus the flour, sugar, and salt to a food processor. Pulse a couple times just to combine. Sprinkle the butter evenly over the dry ingredients. Continue to pulse until a dough just begins to form—sort of like a shaggy cookie dough. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup oats by hand.
Evenly distribute the streusel on top of the fruit. Don’t worry if its texture is uneven—big clumps here, little crumbs there—that’s just what we want.
Bake for about 50 minutes until the streusel is deeply browned and the fruit juice is bubbly and slightly thick. Wait at least 20 minutes to serve warm. Or, let sit out for hours and serve at room temperature. Or, if any leftovers last until tomorrow morning, meet your new favorite breakfast. In any case: serve with lots of cream.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.