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I got this recipe several years ago from Vegetarian Times, and it's so simple and flexible that I make it year-round with different fillings. For all its simplicity, it's amazingly delicious and always a hit at parties and potlucks. I made a batch last weekend for Jim's uke class holiday party, and one woman ate scoop after scoop of it, asking me detailed questions about its contents as if trying to suss out the recipe for herself. I totally would have given it to her if I'd had it with me -- the season's all about sharing, right? So I share with all 20 or so people who still read this lame little blog -- Mixed Berry Crumble!

filling
5 cups mixed berries (fresh works best, but you can use the frozen kind without added sugar or syrup)
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. flour

topping
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 T. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat evenly. Pour the filling into an 8 x 8 baking dish.

For the crust, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Make a well in the center and drop in the egg. Stir until the egg is absorbed, then use your fingers to blend it all together. It should look like moist sand when you're done.

Evenly spread the topping mixture over the berries, then pour the melted butter over the top. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until top is browned and berries are bubbly. Let it sit for a few minutes, then serve hot or cold, straight up or a la mode. Oh my god the delicious!

The whole thing takes about an hour to pull together, and 45 minutes of that is cooking time, but it looks impressive and homemade enough that people will think you slaved over it.

Plus, once you get the basic recipe down, it's easy to improvise. Last week I used three cups of blueberries (the last batch of the ones we froze from the summer farmers' market), a cup of raspberries and a cup of raw cranberries for some holiday zazz! I've replaced the berries with apples and cinnamon, or just tossed a couple diced apples in with three cups of raspberries. I've used Sucanat in place of regular white sugar or cane juice to give the crust a smokey, molasses-y flavor. You can also use pears or dried cherries or raisins or plums or whatever looks happy in the produce department.

Don't replace the butter with margarine, though. Margarine tastes like ass.

Happy holidays!

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