I have a soft spot for neglected fruit. Slightly bruised, a little overripe, sitting quietly in the corner minding its own business. They might be a little imperfect. They might be a little flawed. They might not make the cover of any magazines. They might be just like me (and maybe you).
When I was last at the market, I spotted a small table full of all the overdue summer berries, looking for a good home. These were the leftovers. The unwanted ones. As if to prove my point, a smarmy woman walked by and remarked, "Oh, would you look at those. A mile past their expiration date if you ask me." Well, I wasn't asking her. And I bought them just the same.
Bruised fruit is absolutely perfect to make tarts, pies, and crumbles. When I made this crumble, I could hardly contain myself when they were baking in the oven. The fruit bubbled and boiled, filling the air with sweet scents. And these crumbles? They actually sung. The fruit crackled. It popped. It hissed with the glorious sounds of bubbling over. These crumbles are worth making for that and that alone.
Mixed Berry Crumble
Yields 6 crumbles
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
4 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender (or a knife), cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is reduced to fine pieces. Set aside.
Hull and slice fresh fruit into small pieces or, if using frozen fruit, unthaw until it is at room temperature. Add 2 tablespoons brown sugar to the fruit and mix.
Distribute fruit evenly between 6 ramekins. Sprinkle the top of each ramekin with the crumble topping. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet (to catch juices that may spill over) and put in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and making delicious noises.
The crumbles can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, simply remove from the freezer and allow the crumbles to come close to room temperature. Then, bake according to the directions above.