I’ve decided that although chocolate is just fine, my favourite desserts in summer are fruit-based, with stone fruits topping the list and berries a close second, either topped with a rubble of crumble or sweet drop biscuits or encased in flaky pastry and served with ice cream. Sour cream ice cream, if at all possible. When you’re strapped for time but want to make dessert, there’s nothing easier than a crumble. I’m a fan of all crumbles, but I do love the bigger nuggets of topping more than the bitty crumbs, and so decided to come up with one that was all big crumbs – sweet, crunchy ones.
I had a basketful of freestone Red Haven peaches, and a bunch of rhubarb that I was determined not to banish to the back of my freezer only to be unearthed next spring, when new shoots are already poking through the ground. I wouldn’t think to combine the two, but they presented themselves together here on my countertop, and I’m glad they did. Turns out, peaches and rhubarb are a perfect pairing. (As are peaches and blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries… who doesn’t love a peach?)
Try this topping with any variety of fruit underneath – apricots, nectarines, plums, apples, pears and/or any variety of berry would do well. As for the sugar, add it to suit your taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. A teaspoon of cornstarch is usually enough to thicken the juices slightly – another selling point of the crumble is that there is no pastry to get soggy underneath the fruit.
If you want to peel your peaches, drop them whole into a pot of boiling water for a minute, then take them out and plunge them into ice water-their skins should slip right off. I prefer leaving them on – it’s faster, easier, and you retain many of the fruit’s nutrients and much of the fiber. You eat the skin when you eat a fresh peach, so why not?
Peach & Rhubarb Big-Crumb Crumble
Leftovers are delicious the next morning for breakfast, served with thick plain or vanilla yogurt.
5-6 peaches, unpeeled and thickly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, or fresh or frozen berries
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp. liquid honey or golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 375F. Thickly slice the peaches into a pie plate or shallow baking dish. Top with rhubarb or berries. In a small dish or measuring cup, stir the cornstarch into the sugar and sprinkle it over the fruit.
In a bowl (or the bowl of a food processor) combine the crumble ingredients and pulse or blend with a fork until well blended and sticky/crumbly. Sprinkle over the fruit, squeezing it as you go to create larger clumps. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden and the fruit is tender and bubbly around the edges. Serve warm, with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 6.