Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sherried Nectarine Crumble

Plate of Nectarine Crumble and Whipped Cream
Crumble Served with Whipped Cream

Recipe adapted from Crumbles & Cobblers: A Celebration of the Simple Joys of Crumbles & Cobblers

What’s not to like about crumbles and cobblers? They’re easy to bake, can be made with almost any fruit even if it’s overripe, and are loved by almost everyone. Recipes can be doubled or cut in half successfully because their chemistry is simple. Also, as authors of the cookbook Crumbles & Cobblers point out, they’re more economical than pies because they require less flour and fat. I’ve noticed they also require a LOT less time.

Sliced Nectarines with Bottle of Sherry, Raw Sugar box, and Crumble Topping
Just Layer and Bake
Even though making crumbles and cobblers is simple enough to fake without a recipe, I couldn’t resist buying Crumbles & Cobblers, a short cookbook that’s big on ideas. In addition to the usual (and some unusual) fruit crumbles, there are recipes for veggie crumble and chocolate crumbles. Both sweet and savory cobblers are included, everything from spiced mango & blueberry to beef with chili to fish with dill. There are a couple of clafouti recipes too. I recommend the book to inspire creative baking.

What’s the difference between crumbles and cobblers? According to Crumbles & Cobblers, crumbles are topped with a crunchy, crumbly topping. Cobblers are topped with a batter or dough similar to scones or dumplings. Looks like I’ve been calling crumbles cobblers for some time.

Baked Crumble in Casserole Dish with Bottle of Cream
Serve with Cream, Whipped or Not
I reduced the butter in this recipe slightly, and might use at least part heart-healthier walnut oil next time. I used regular butter instead of unsalted to make a greater contrast between topping and filling. I’ve also added more quantity details to the recipe to make it easier. In search of the raw brown sugar the recipe requires, I found In the Raw, and unrefined sugar with big crystals that added the perfect touch of sweet crispiness when sprinkled on as the final topping.

Since I couldn’t really taste the sherry, I might increase it next time. My friend Lynn, who provided some of the nectarines, had the fine idea of substituting bourbon.  And of course you could try peaches, plums, apricots, or a combination of stone fruits. I used three kinds of nectarines, both yellow and white. Have fun with it!

Three types of Nectarines in Basket
Made with Three Nectarine Varieties
Sherried Nectarine Crumble
serves 4 – 5

2 lbs. nectarines
2 tbsp. sweet sherry
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup raw brown sugar plus
1 ½ tsp. raw brown sugar for sprinkling
6 tbsp. butter, melted
Cream for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash nectarines and remove the pits. Cut into thickish slices, up to ½ inch.

Place nectarine slices in the bottom of a 1½ quart baking dish. Sprinkle the 1 tbsp. raw sugar and the sherry over the fruit. Cook in preheated oven 5 – 10 minutes, until heated through.

Meanwhile make the crumble topping: Mix flour and sugar together thoroughly in a bowl. Quickly mix in the butter till crumbly, either with a fork or your hands.

Sprinkle crumble mixture over the top of the warmed nectarines, building up an even layer gradually. According to the original recipe, crumble can sink into the filling and “go mushy” if added too much at a time.

Sprinkle top with 1½ tsp. raw brown sugar.

Bake in preheated oven until crumble topping is golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Serve with cream if desired, either whipped or drizzled on straight from the bottle.

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