A Note from Chef Becky: July 8, 2019 - Crisp How To
Dear CSA Members,
I can’t remember a year when the Santa Rosa plums have tasted or looked better than they do this year. The flavor of the flesh is sweeter and the texture is a little firmer than it usually is. I have to admit that in past years, in my mind, it has been eclipsed by its flashier young cousin, the flavor king pluot. I was so thrilled to have my first Santa Rosa this season: it reminded why I love them so much.
I always look forward to plum season, they make such wonderful pastries and jams. The skin adds color pectin to jams (plum-strawberry) and they add just the right amount of tartness and color to the fruit tartlettes and galettes. The mixed fruit (peach, plum and nectarine) is one of the very favorites of mine and one of the best sellers. They also make a wonderful ice cream, the custard is a perfect foil to the bitterness of the skin. The strong flavor shines through which in other fruits (like peaches) can get lost.
For 4th of July, I made a crisp of fruit that was a little past it’s prime of peaches, white nectarines, plums and a few mulberries. It was sensational and so easy. I make lots of crisp topping and keep it in the freezer, so I have it whenever I want to make one. There was no measuring involved, no needing to buy lots of extra ingredients. Just cut the fruit up in to whatever casserole or dish you want to bake it in (not too full). Add berries or, orange zest, a little sugar, flour, almond extract if you’ve got it. Stir it together, smooth it out and cover it with the crisp topping. Bake at 400˚until the topping looks golden brown and the fruit is bubbling around it. Even if it is too runny, or the topping too crispy, it will still be delicious, warm with ice cream. If you make a habit as I have of making this, you will learn, how full to fill your dish with fruit, how much sugar to add (roughly ½ cup sugar to 6 cups fruit), what combination of fruit and ratios you like best. This is a perfect way to use up fruit that is too ripe to eat fresh. Hint: how much sugar you add will depend on the plums, they always need a little more sugar to balance out the sourness of the skin.
There are lots of recipes for crisp topping but this is my go-to. I don’t love oatmeal toppings but I do love a little bit of nuts in the topping, walnut, almonds and pecans work well here.
11 tablespoons or 5 and 1 half ounces unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3-cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Cut up the butter into 1/2-inch chunks and freeze for 1/2 hour. Mix together the dry ingredients, (except the nuts) and refrigerate. Roughly chop the nuts.
In a kitchenaide mixer, or with a fork, mix the dry ingredients together then, add the butter. Mix until the butter roughly pea-sized chunks, (it doesn’t need to be even). Add the nuts and mix until incorporated. You should have 4 cups of topping. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
The topping can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for a month.