It’s just about summer and the strawberries are at their sweet juiciest, and as the season progresses, they are followed by blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…I just can’t get enough of summer fruits, but I do like to play with different ways to serve and enjoy them.
Last weekend I found a new way to love up ripe berries. We had our Single Mothers By Choice monthly meet-up. These are families I have known and grown with since before Leandro was born, so it is a support structure we really cherish. On this occasion, in the middle of the kid chaos and seven simultaneous conversations pinballing around the moms, we celebrated several kids’ birthdays all at once. The hostess made cupcakes for the kids, and I made berry crisp for the grown-ups, we sang, blew out candles, and got back to the chaos.
This dessert is perfect for this kind of occasion. It is decidedly unfussy, but combines sweet, tart, syrupy, and crunchy (plus rich and creamy if you top it with whipped cream; it is so easy to make homemade!) which makes it pretty perfect in my book. It is simple to prepare, but looks so enticing! The original recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook, by Myra Goodman (shout-out to Sean and P.J. Goralski for giving it to me years ago!) and I tweaked it ever so slightly to add more cinnamon and less clove flavor.
1.5 quarts fresh berries (mix em up! We did 1 qt strawberries and 1 pint blueberries) Halve the strawberries, if using.
Grated zest of one orange
Grated zest of one lemon
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
½ Cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch
½ Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ Cup whole wheat flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
½ Cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tbs granulated sugar
7 Tbs unsalted butter
½ Cup old-fashioned rolled oats (or quick cook oats, but not instant)
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center.
In a large bowl mix the berries, orange and lemon zest, and lemon juice and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and sugar together until combined. Toss with berry mixture and then transfer to a 2-quart or 8×8 baking dish. (A shallow 2 qt. is better, but the 8×8 is what fits in my toaster oven, so I adjust)
To make the topping, place the flour, spices, salt, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter in a medium bowl and blend the butter with your fingertips until it is in pea-size crumbs. Add the rolled oats and stir to combine. Try to get the oats a bit wet.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the berries. Don’t pack it down. Bake until bubbly and golden 30-35 minutes (add five minutes for a glass dish).
Let set for 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with homemade whipped cream.