Confession: if given the choice between a crisp and a pie, I’ll take the crisp every time. To me, pies are like your fussy, not-one-hair-out-of-place aunt you see too much of, while crisps are like the cool, laid-back cousin you’d rather hang with. I grew up eating pie-lots of pie-so maybe that’s why I’ve never jumped on the fanatical pie wagon. It was the most commonly made dessert in our home, so when it started being glorified by foodies everywhere I couldn’t help but wonder what the fuss was about. I make pies occasionally now, mostly for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. I use the same crust recipe my mother used-it isn’t a common recipe, but it’s simple and doesn’t require any chilling. But I’d much rather eat a crisp because I love the sweet and crunchy texture of the topping together with the fruit. No rolling dough or fluting edges-and messiness is not only expected, it’s part of the appeal of a good crisp. It begs to be eaten with a scoop of ice cream, melting and running in rivulets down all that oven-crisped topping and juicy, bursting fruit.
You really can’t mess up a crisp too badly. Unlike a pie, the filling doesn’t have to be too firm (some crisp recipes don’t even have a thickener, such as flour or cornstarch). The fruit can take some extra cooking if you get busy and don’t watch the clock closely. So the topping got, well, baked a bit longer than you liked? It’s a crisp-it’s supposed to be crispy. Slap some ice cream on that fruity deliciousness. No one will know the difference.
I chose blackberries and cherries for this crisp-both seasonal and plentiful fruits for the early summer. Of course, if you’ve been following the blog you know the blackberries are grown at my son’s country home (well, it’s the only home he has-and it’s in the country) and they’ve been appearing at pretty much every meal at our house. Cherries are substantial, delicious, and look gorgeous in or on every dish from elegant to rustic.
Although not in this photo (because I’m an airhead) I topped the crisp (before baking) with sliced almonds because I always associate almonds with cherries. Use whatever nuts you like-or leave them out completely.
Much like a pie you’ll mix a filling of fruit, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and flavoring. No need to precook anything, just put it in your skillet and crumble the crisp mixture on top. You can see in the photos the crisp mixture pretty much covers all my fruit filling, so just for looks I sprinkled some additional berries and cherries (stem and pit intact-so warn your guests if you do this) on top. The roasted fruit is a delicious addition and adds depth of flavor, as well as a bit of decoration, but is purely discretionary.
I like making crisps in skillets. I’m not certain if they really taste better or if they just look like they belong in one so I think they taste better. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet,
please buy one use a 9-inch baking pan.
We’re approaching the Fourth of July as I write this and this dessert would be a perfect treat to enjoy with a big scoop of ice cream-try vanilla, it’ll sort of look red, white, and blue that way. Sort of. Anyway, it would make a great post-barbecue or fireworks-watching snack. You spend less time in the kitchen and bring the berry cherry crisp. Let your fussy aunt bring the pie.
Berry Cherry Crisp
- FOR THE CRISP TOPPING:
- ¾ c. flour
- 2/3 c. old-fashioned oats
- ¼ c. sugar
- ¼ c. packed brown sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ½ c. cold butter, cubed
- 3 Tbs. sliced almonds
- Additional fruit for decorating top, if desired
- FOR THE FRUIT FILLING:
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ¼ tsp. almond extract
- 2 c. blackberries
- 2 c. pitted, halved cherries
- ¾ c. sugar
- ¼ c. flour
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Step 2 Pour a little cooking oil on a paper towel and wipe it on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cast iron skillet.
- Step 3 Make the crisp topping: in a medium bowl mix together flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Step 4 Mix in the butter with your hands until the mixture becomes like coarse, large crumbs. It’ll take 2-3 minutes to do this.
- Step 5 Set the topping mixture in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
- Step 6 For the filling: in a large bowl stir together the lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Add the blackberries and cherries and toss to coat.
- Step 7 Stir the sugar into the fruit.
- Step 8 Sprinkle fruit with flour and stir until evenly coated.
- Step 9 Pour fruit into prepared skillet and spread evenly.
- Step 10 Remove crisp topping from refrigerator and crumble evenly over fruit.
- Step 11 Sprinkle sliced almonds over topping.
- Step 12 Arrange additional fruit on top, if desired.
- Step 13 Bake 30-35 minutes.
- Step 14 Serve warm with ice cream.