From a distance, this fruit crisp looks like any other. Sweet, saucy baked fruit with a buttery, crumbly streusel on top. But if you look—and smell—closer, you’ll pick up on a big difference: toasted oats. Just like toasted nuts, this little step yields roasty, caramely, complex flavor. (If you want, you can toast them in advance and store them in an airtight container.) While this recipe calls for plums, feel free to swap in your favorite stone fruit: peaches, nectarines, apricots, you name it. Like with fruit pie, you’ll want this to cool for a little while before serving. It’s great warm, with ice cream or whipped cream or crème fraîche or straight-up cream. It’s also great room temperature and even cold, eaten straight out of the fridge in the middle of the night. —Emma Laperruque
1 1/2 cups
light brown sugar
(1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, at a cool-ish room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
light brown sugar, plus more as needed depending on the plums’ sweetness
freshly ground black pepper
all-purpose flour, plus more as needed depending on the plums’ juiciness
In This Recipe
Heat the oven to 350°F. Add the oats to a rimmed sheet pan and toast in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until golden-brown and nutty-fragrant, rotating and tossing halfway through. Let cool completely.
Raise the oven temperature to 375°F. Butter a 2 ½ quart baking dish.
Prep the plums: For larger plums, cut into eighths; for smaller ones, quarters. You want big bite-sized pieces. Throw away the pits. Add the plum chunks to a large bowl, along with the brown sugar, salt, pepper, and water. Toss so all the plums are coated in sugar, then taste and adjust accordingly. Leave this mixture to hang out for a bit (letting the fruit macerate for a few minutes helps you gauge how juicy the fruit is and how much flour you need to add).
Back to the streusel: Combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Rub the mixture between your hands until it’s well combined and no brown sugar lumps remain. Add the cooled oats and toss. Add the butter cubes and cut in the butter with your fingertips, squeezing and tossing, until a clumpy, shortbread-y dough forms. (You can also incorporate the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you prefer.)
Add the flour to the plum mixture and toss to combine. (The liquid should be a little thicker than heavy cream. Add more flour as needed.) Pour this into the buttered baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the streusel on top.
Bake the crisp for about 50 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and the fruit is soft, bubbly, and saucy.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before eating. Serve with ice cream, crème fraîche, whipped cream, or a big pour of heavy 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 stories 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.