If you read my post on making a juice pie, you won’t be surprised to learn that I also enjoy making this homemade fruit crisp recipe. They are quick to whip up and easily adaptable. Not to mention, healthier than most desserts and DELICIOUS. The topping is what makes a crisp – well, a crisp! Unlike the cobbler, a crisp topping does not rise in the oven. Most recipes combine flour and light brown sugar mixture and then clump it together with butter. Over the years, however, I’ve really enjoyed the incorporation of hearty rolled oats and dark brown sugar – as dark as you can find. Add in some cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and you are on your way to that crunchy, sweet topping. No rolling pins or fluted edge skills needed. Underneath that trademark crisp topping, you will find five cups of your favorite fruit or fruit combinations: apples, berries, peaches, pears, figs, rhubarb…if it works in a pie, it will work in a crisp.
Produce sales will often decide the type of crisp I’m going to prepare. For example, today I’m going to use a bag of apples that were marked down to 99 cents for being a bit bruised. Oh, how fruit crisps are not prejudice against battered fruit! Using fruit that is in season will also save you some expense. Farmers markets, fruit stands and fruit farms can all provide abundance.
Now, the baking part…In order for the fruit to cook down and become all bubbly and gooey, the fruit will need a bit of fresh lemon, vanilla, flour for thickening and unless you prefer puckering up, some sweetener too. Most recipes call for plain old sugar, but one thing my family enjoys is adapting recipes to our own tastes. Since the topping already has a good amount of sugar, why not try one of these options below? From left to right: honey, sorghum, maple syrup, birch syrup and agave nectar.
Any of these will do. You will need to half the amount of sweetener if you are using syrup instead of sugar since syrups tend to be more concentrated.
Here are the ingredients to make my homemade fruit crisp. Can you guess which sweetener I decided to use alongside the apples and blueberries? Come on in to my kitchen!
Start out by putting 1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats), ½ cup all purpose flour and ½ cup dark brown sugar into a mixing bowl. Add ½ t. cinnamon…and do you see this little ball that I’m grating? It’s actually a nutmeg. You can find them at bulk food stores. Freshly grated nutmeg tastes so much better than pre-ground nutmeg in the bottle AND the balls have a longer shelf life! You will need ¼ teaspoon.
Can you see the bits of nutmeg in the bowl?
Stir up the oat mixture and then add 1 cut up stick of cold, salted butter.
Using a good old pastry blender or pair of forks, incorporate the butter chunks into the mixture until you get a bunch of moist crumbles. This should only take a couple minutes.
If you squeeze a handful of crumbles and they instantly mold together, you know you have the perfect crisp consistency. Well done! Now, stick the bowl in the fridge to keep it cool while you make your fruit filling.
Chop up five cups of fruit in any combination. Today I’m using 1 cup of blueberries and 4 cups of apples. You can see here that I don’t take the skin off of the apples. Not only does this save time and add fiber to your diet, you won’t even notice when the fruit is cooked down and smothered with crispy topping. Trust me; there is no need to peel the apples in a fruit crisp!
If using apples peaches or pears, you are aiming for ½ inch slices.
Now squeeze a lemon to get 2 T. of fresh lemon juice and add it to your fruit.
Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and ¼ cup all-purpose flour to the bowl as well. The flour will help thicken the juices when they implode from the fruit. If you forget the flour, your filling will be soupy. Though still delicious, we want to serve our fruit crisp on plates, not in bowls 🙂
Did you guess what sweetener I chose? Pure maple syrup – though it does not have to be pure. My family really enjoys the taste of maple in our desserts. We have also used honey and sorghum with delicious results. Sorghum is syrup extracted from the high sugar content sorghum plant. The birch syrup comes from Alaska where they extract syrup from birch trees. Be creative! There are lots of choices out there. The recipe calls for ½ cup of granulated sugar, but I am pouring in ¼ cup of maple syrup instead.
Stir it all together and use a wooden spoon if you can – It will make you feel all colonial 🙂
Pour the filling into your favorite 8×8 inch dish and using a pinching action, sprinkle the crisp topping in clumps onto the fruit. Be sure to use the entire amount of topping. My one pet peeve with fruit crisps is when there is not enough topping on the fruit. Don’t be stingy!
The picture on the left is the unbaked crisp. On the right, you will see what 35 minutes and 350 degrees will do! A good tip is to start the crisp out with a foil cover for the first 20 minutes. Then remove the cover and continue baking. This creates more heat for the fruit to soften and will prevent the topping from getting too brown. Your crisp is done when the filling is bubbling up and the top is crunchy and golden.
Unlike pie, you can serve up a fruit crisp soon after it comes out of the oven. No need to pull out the perfect slice either. Just get out a big spoon and scoop some out. Serve it with whipped cream or ice cream. Sooooo good. Enjoy!
Homemade Fruit Crisp Recipe
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour divided
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 8 Tablespoons butter
- 5 cups fresh fruit
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Combine 1 cup rolled oats, ½ cup all purpose flour, ½ cup dark brown sugar, ½ t. cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl.
- Using a pastry blender or forks, incorporate 1 cut up stick of cold, salted butter until you get crumbles that are easily molded together.
- Chop up five cups of fruit in any combination and add them in another bowl. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon, 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, ¼ cup all-purpose flour and ½ cup granulated sugar or ¼ cup of your favorite syrup.
- Pour the filling into an 8x8 baking dish and using a pinching action, sprinkle all of the crisp topping in clumps onto the fruit.
- Bake the first 20 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven with a foil lid.
- Remove the lid and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes until the topping is crunchy and golden and the fruit filling is bubbling.
Meredith is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom living in NW Ohio. She loves to adapt recipes to her family’s eclectic tastes and is learning to provide nourishment for any bellies who walk through the door at a moment’s notice. If not in the kitchen, you’ll find Meredith in front of her sewing machine or spending quality time with her home and church families. Life goes by so fast!