I like to think of this dish as the perfect marriage between fruit crisp and fruit pie, combining crunchy oatmeal cookie-like topping with an assortment of gently sweetened fruit. I’m grateful each year to the fine folks from Warner’s Farm who bring all sorts of fantastic fruit from their Niagara-area farm to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Saturdays (Westboro) and Sundays (Lansdowne). This July’s edition of the Farmers’ Feast challenge included boxes of their cherries, red currants and gooseberries, the latter being, in my opinion, an underrated hero of the fruit world. I love their tart, bright flavour but they can look a little pale cooked up on their own so adding currants and cherries was the perfect solution. You could easily use this same method with other fresh or frozen fruit; consider making a double or triple batch of the crumble topping; you can store it in the freezer and whip up a quick fruit dessert in just minutes.
- ½ cup (125 mL) quick cooking (not minute) oats
- ¼ cup (60 mL) white, whole wheat or oat flour*
- ¼ cup (60 mL) slivered almonds (optional but delicious)
- ¼ cup (60 mL) brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) cinnamon
- ¼ cup (60 mL) very cold butter
* you can make oat flour by pulverizing oats in food processor or blender; it’s a great gluten-free option for this dish
- 2 cups (500 mL) combined fruit (I used tart red currants, pitted sweet cherries and gooseberries**)
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) white sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
** Gooseberries turn from green to red as they ripen and become sweeter. Be sure to use a sharp knife to remove the stem and blossom ends from the gooseberries before cooking them
- Prepare the crumble topping up to 2 days ahead of time by combining the oats, flour, almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- Grate the butter and add to the oats mixture. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the oats until it is evenly combined.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the dish.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare the fruit by putting it in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat to let the fruits release their juices (about 5 minutes).
- Combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a small bowl and add to the fruit mixture.
- Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until thickened and shiny.
- Divide the fruit mixture among four small oven-safe dishes, leaving at least an inch (2.5 cm) of space at the top of the dishes. You can use Pyrex cups or ramekins but I don’t recommend baking in canning (Mason) jars as they have been known to explode in hot ovens.
- Top each dish with lots of crumble topping.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until topping is golden and filling is bubbling.
- Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Makes 4 individual pies.