This is one of my favourite dessert recipes because it is so adaptable to seasonal fruits, and also because the fruit and oatmeal in it are good for you, so it doesn’t feel like quite as much of an indulgence as many desserts do.
You don’t often find fruit crisps in England. ‘Fruit crumble’ made with a topping made only from flour, butter and sugars is much more popular. I’ve eaten some lovely crumbles over the years, but I prefer the texture that the oatmeal adds to fruit crisps. Also, fruit crumble is usually served with hot custard poured over top, making it anything but crisp!
My favourite way to make fruit crisps is with pears, which are in season here in England at the moment, but you can also use drained canned pears if that is not the case where you are. You can of course use apples, plums, or any firm fruit really. I sometimes add raisins to this recipe, although I didn’t when these photographs were taken. You can soak the raisins in a couple tablespoons of rum if you like, for a slightly decadent twist. I have also been known to add half a cup of blueberries, which gives this dessert a nutritional boost, and a great flavour. Just toss the blueberries in a tablespoon of flour before you add them to the pears, to encourage any juices to be nice and thick as opposed to runny. If you use any sort of berries in a fruit crumble, it is a good idea to do this.
To get the rich treacle-like sweetness my family loves in the topping, I use the darkest brown sugar I can. If you prefer a milder flavour, use light brown sugar. We love the gentle spicy kick of ginger in our house, but if you are not as keen on it as we are, just use half a teaspoon instead of a whole one.
Pears vary wildly in size, so I have given an approximate measurement instead of saying how many pears to use. What you want to do is cover the bottom of a pan that is roughly 7 x 11 inches with a fairly thick layer of fruit, so use as many pears (or apples or other fruit) as it takes. If you are worried about the pears turning brown during the time it takes to peel and slice them, just toss them with a generous teaspoon of lemon juice.
I serve my Pear Crisp with a dollop of good ice cream. It’s always vanilla or rum raisin with pear crisp in our house, but you can use any flavour you like.
To serve 4 you need
1 teaspoon butter
About 4 cups of peeled, cored and sliced pears
½ cup raisins (optional)
⅓ cup melted butter
a generous ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup oats
½ cup all purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 350º F (160ºC).
Grease a 7 x 11 inch pan with the teaspoon of butter. Lay the pear slices in the bottom of the pan. If you are using raisins and you soaked them in rum, drain any remaining liquid off before sprinkling them over top of the pears.
Mix together the flour and oats, and then add the sugar and ginger and mix through. Drizzle the butter over top, and stir it evenly though the mixture with a fork, working to obtain a crumbly texture.
Sprinkle this crumbly mixture over top of the pears. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pears are tender and the top of the crisp is beginning to turn golden brown. If you are using canned pears, you need to reduce the cooking time to about 25 to 30 minutes, cooking only until the topping is lovely and golden.
This is best served warm, but leftovers will keep nicely in the fridge. I have been known to reheat them gently in the microwave and have them for breakfast, either just as they are, or with a small spoonful of vanilla yogurt on top. It really is a lovely way to start the day!