Choose-Your-Fruit Crumbles

By: Corky Pollan

Summer is crumble season with fruits at the peak of deliciousness, yet I persist in making the same old classic crumbles: apple, or peach and blueberry. This summer I vowed to break out of my crumble rut and so I embarked on an epic bake-off, testing dozens of fruits and fruit combinations. In the process I discovered some surprising new crumble loves — like banana, mango and pineapple — along with the realization that just about any jumble of fruits wrapped in a crumble topping are winners.

Tips for Baking Better Crumbles

1. When combining fruits like apples, peaches, plums, etc., make sure the slices are the same size so they all cook evenly.

2. After mixing in the sugar and spices and before adding the Minute Tapioca, taste, taste, taste. Fruit, especially berries, vary in their sugar content so taste to see if there’s a need for a touch more sugar, a tad more lemon juice, an additional sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg or whatever. Remember the topping is sweet, so don’t overdo the sugar in the filling.

3. Avoid metal pie pans: They’re not deep enough to hold the fruit and topping. I’m partial to ceramic or stoneware deep-dish pans.

4. Place a sheet of foil under the crumble when you place it in the oven to collect any juice spills.

5. Crumbles take an average of 50 to 60 minutes to bake, but be patient and wait until you see the juices bubbling and the top a golden brown.

6. These crumbles serve 6 to 8; for smaller ones use a stoneware or ceramic au gratin pan and cut the quantity of fruit and topping by a third, and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

Master Crumble Topping
(For a 9” deep-dish pie pan)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into small cubes

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips, fork, or pastry blender until mixture forms pea-size clumps. Spoon topping evenly over fruit filling and bake on a middle rack in a preheated 375 degree F oven until fruit is bubbling and the top is nicely browned, about 60 minutes. Let the crumble cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Fruit Fillings
Apple Crumble
2 1/2 pounds assorted apples, peeled, cored and in ½-inch slices
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca (flour or cornstarch can be substituted, but I prefer tapioca)

Pinch of salt

Gently toss together all the ingredients in a large bowl and spoon mixture into 9”-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Peach-Blueberry Crumble
2 pounds peaches (or nectarines) peeled, pitted and in ½-inch slices
2 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
Rhubarb-Strawberry (or Raspberry) Crumble
2 pounds rhubarb, ends trimmed, and in 1-inch pieces

2 cups strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled and cut into quarters (raspberries, left whole)

1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
Apricot-Raspberry Crumble
2 pounds apricots, pitted and in 1/2-inch slices (no need to peel)
2 cups raspberries, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
Plum-Blueberry Crumble

2 1/2 pounds plums (red or purple or a mix), pitted and in ½-inch slices (no need to peel)

2 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
Mixed-Berry Crumble
2 cups raspberries, rinsed and thoroughly drained
2 cups blueberries, rinsed and thoroughly drained
2 cups blackberries, rinsed and thoroughly drained
2 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on tartness of berries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt

Mix very gently to avoid bruising.

(Single-berry crumbles use 8 cups of the berry of your choice.)
Whatever-Fruits-Are-In-The-Fridge Crumble

5 or 6 stone fruits (apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines) in 1/2-inch slices

1 1/2 or 2 cups berries, rinsed and drained
1 or 2 handfuls of cherries or grapes, pitted and halved
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
Banana-Strawberry Crumble
7 firm but ripe bananas, sliced

2 cups strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled and cut into quarters or halves

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt

Mix gently to avoid bruising.

Mango-Strawberry Crumble
3 large mangos, pitted, peeled and sliced
2 cups strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
Pear-Cranberry Crumble

2 pounds firm but ripe Bartlett pears, cored, in ½-inch slices (no need to peel)

1 cup dried cranberries (use fresh cranberries in season)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup for fresh cranberries)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
Pineapple-Banana-Coconut Crumble
(Dubbed the Pina Colada Crumble by my granddaughter Savannah)
1 large ripe pineapple, peeled, core removed, in 1/2-inch slices
3 firm but ripe bananas, sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pinch of salt
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