It’s probably too late for this post. Chalk it up to trying to steal as much of the end of summer as possible. It’s been a full summer of bike rides to the farmers market, family hikes, kayaking, barbecues and picnics, and trips to the beach to catch Dungeness Crab. Pretty much all the best the northwest has to offer. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe it’s all real. Sure we all love summer, but there’s a special type of joy to be found in three months of unending sunshine and long warm days when you face an uphill trudge through nine months of grey rain.
Our first cloudy day rose up out of the bay today and descended on us with drizzle and a cool breeze that hinted at the beginnings of fall. Orion still wakes up every morning asking for “blue-b’s.” We’ve tried to explain seasons and how there will be no more berries until next summer but either he doesn’t understand or he’s just hopeful that if he believes enough, he might find juicy berries to cram in his cheeks. He doesn’t seem to mind the rain either so perhaps less fruit and more mud is in our fall forecast.
Here’s some shots of a trip we took this summer out to Lummi Island that remind me of everything I love about the northwest.
We took a ferry ride with the windows rolled down and our feet up on the dashboard and ate fresh produce and seafood. Snuck away for a paddle through open water between the islands and found porpoises rising up out of the water and a seal tailing us. Then jumped in the water to cool off and lay on the warm rocks on the beach. I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve swum in the ocean on the west coast without a wet suit on, and I don’t even need all my fingers. But this was just such a summer. Every where we turned we happened on views out to the Cascades with Baker’s snowing peak rearing up. And as is always the case, got home way past Orion’s bedtime.
This is a crisp like one of those summer days feels – effortless, unfolds beautifully, and makes you wish there was more. I still struggle through pies every summer but more and more turn to crisps, crumbles, and other low-prep fruit desserts . They’re fast, they’re easy, and their dense crust soaks up the inevitable fruit juices. This crisp can be thrown together fairly quickly and can be varied based on your tastes and what’s in season. No need to refrigerate anything and its best made when barefoot.
Tips and Tricks:
- When making a crisp or pie I always mix the fruit with sugar and spices first and set aside to macerate while I prepare the topping. This allows some of the juices to seep out of the fruit. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit to the pan and you’ll avoid some of the excessive juice that can collect in the bottom of a fruit dessert.
- Crisp recipes can easily be scaled. Just put the amount of fruit you have in the bottom of a baking vessel. You want the fruit to come up about half way up the dish. Once you see what size your dish is, you can always add in more flour and butter or a little bit less to reduce the amount of topping. Or use the recipe as is and have a thicker topping. Yum!
- I like adding either rolled oats or nuts (either sliced almonds or walnuts) to crisp toppings. They add more depth to the flavor and texture of the crisp.
- You can skip the mess of making the topping with your hands if you have a food processor. Just pulse a few times to mix the dry ingredients then add the butter and pulse several times until the mixture is dry and crumbly and pieces hold together. I always like mixing butter in by hand so I can control how large the pieces of butter are but if I’m pressed for time, using a food processor is super quick.
- If you’re like me and leave a trail of burnt remnants in every oven you ever use, than any time you bake a fruit dessert, throw a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil under your pan so that any fruit juice that bubbles over is caught on the sheet instead of dripping onto the bottom of the oven.
- You can tell when your fruit dessert is done not necessarily when the top is golden brown but when the fruit has started to bubble. This step may come after the top is already golden and starting to brown. If that’s the case, throw a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the dish and keep cooking until the fruit bubbles.
Peach Blackberry Crisp
A simple crisp recipe that’s the perfect end to a summer day with a dense, crispy topping that soaks up the sweet juices of berries below. Feel free to use any fruit you have on hand but you may need to use less sugar if you’re not trying to offset the tartness of blackberries.
Quantity: serves 6 – 8 for dessert
Time to Prepare: 1 hour
2 pints blackberries
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup of sliced almonds, toasted or rolled oats
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
2. Wash the peaches and blackberries. While the berries are drying in a strainer, use a paring knife to cut the peaches into a bowl in 1/2″ pieces. Add the blackberries to the bowl. Add the flour, corn starch, and brown sugar and toss lightly with a large spoon until evenly coated. Set aside.
2. Make the topping by stirring together in a large bowl the flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Cut the butter into 1/2″ pieces and using your fingers, work in the butter until you achieve a crumbly mix. Then stir in the almonds by hand until incorporated.
3. Grease the baking dish you’re going to use. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit to the dish, leaving behind any juice. Take the crisp topping in handfuls and squeeze in your fist to form medium sized chunks of dough. Scatter these over the top of the fruit, evenly covering.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the topping is crisp and golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
5. Now for the hard part, let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 – 30 minutes before serving. Delicious served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.