Jacob’s Kitchen: Fruit Crisps 101 (Project Food Blog – Challenge 4)

This post is my fourth entry for Project Food Blog, foodbuzz.com’s quest to find the next food blog star. ( Click here to see my contestant profile.) In this round we were challenged to create a step by step photo tutorial. Voting begins Monday, October 11, 2010. Follow me on twitter, facebook, or through my RSS feed to keep up to date with my progress in the competition. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me in the first three rounds, I appreciate all of your support more than I can say!

As that familiar chill creeps into the air and the first of the autumn leaves begin to fall, I always crave the warm comfort of simple, satisfying food. It’s around this time of year when I start to long for big steaming mugs of apple cider, and hearty bowls of my favorite soups and stews. And what could be warmer or more comforting than a freshly baked, individual fruit crisp? Beyond their ease of preparation and delicious flavor, the baking crisps themselves envelop the house in their soothing, sweet, spicy aroma like a giant hug, and make it feel just a little bit more like home. These nostalgic smells and flavors bring me right back to my childhood, and when warm crisp meets cold vanilla ice cream, something magical happens.

Crisps can be made with a variety of fruits. The possibilities are really endless; you’re limited only by your imagination. I have been making fruit crisps all of my life, and once you master the simple process of making them, you can mix and match the ingredients that you use and create a multitude of desserts all using the same basic recipe. They are an easy, versatile, universally loved comfort food classic that everyone should have in their kitchen arsenal. This is fruit crisps 101: My inside scoop.

When preparing fruit dishes, I like to visit my favorite local farm stand to see what looks best, and allow that to guide my decision of which fruit combination to prepare on any given day. Here in Oregon, because of the amount of rain that we received early on in the season, the majority of our summer produce was delayed. So I was excited when I went to the farm stand yesterday and discovered masses of fragrant, local peaches and discounted pints of ruby red raspberries. What a perfectly delicious combination. Selecting peaches, like many other fruits, should be based largely on their smell. They should be firm, and, when ripe, smell strongly of what they are. These peaches were perfect, and the air was thick with their intoxicating aroma, making my choice very easy: a gingered peach raspberry crisp it was!

To make the crisps, start by buttering six individual ramekins (or up to eight, depending on their size) and line them up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Next, chop one half of a cup of crystallized ginger, and set it aside.

You will want about four and a half pounds of peaches in total, and peeling them is quite simple. (If you are not offended by the peach skin, feel free to skip this step entirely.) Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, score a large “x” into the bottom of each peach (without piercing the flesh too deeply), and carefully place them into a pot of boiling water. Boil the peaches for about sixty seconds, then remove them and place them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. This process loosens the peels, and once they are cool enough to handle the peel easily slides right off.

Next, slice each peach in half, remove the pit, and then slice each half into six to eight wedges (depending on the size of the peach). Place the sliced peaches into a large mixing bowl; add one pint of fresh raspberries, and the crystallized ginger.

To the peach mixture, add one half of a cup of brown sugar (here I used dark brown but light brown would work equally well), one fourth of a cup of granulated sugar, one fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, the zest of one orange, one half teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a third of a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Mix to combine.

To make the topping, combine one and a half cups of all purpose flour, three fourths of a cup of granulated sugar, three fourths of a cup of dark brown sugar, one cup of old fashioned oats, a fourth of a teaspoon of salt, and two sticks of cold, diced butter. Using a stand mixer, your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the other ingredients until it is fully incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.

(Tip: Whenever I make a crisp, I always double the topping recipe and freeze half of it for the next time I want to make a quick dessert; it is the same amount of work today but it will be a huge time saver on a busier day in the future.)

Divide the fruit mixture between the ramekins, and top each with a generous amount of the crumble topping (keeping in mind that the crisps tend to shrink slightly while baking). Place the crisps on the middle rack of your preheated 350° oven and bake for one hour, or until the tops are golden brown and the juices are bubbling. (Alternatively, you can also assemble the crisp in one larger baking dish, following the same process and cooking time.)

Remove the baked crisps from the oven and allow them to cool slightly before serving. Serve them up on their own or with a scoop of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream, and you can literally taste the flavors of fall in every spoon full. The sweet peaches, slightly tart raspberries, and spicy crystallized ginger all harmonize together beautifully, echoed gently by the cinnamon and nutmeg. The orange zest simply makes the peaches taste peachier; and the soft fruit filling, crunchy topping and creamy vanilla ice cream offer an exciting mix of temperatures, tastes, and textures. It’s perfection: easy, comforting, earthy, rustic, and chic.

Here are just a few ideas of other variations on this recipe, each made with the same crumble topping:

Apple or Pear- To four pounds of prepared fruit, add the juice and zest of one lemon and one orange along with a half of a cup of granulated sugar, a fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a half a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. (Combine apples and pears for a different variation, and to really drive home the flavors of fall toss in  three fourths of a cup of dried cranberries as well.)

Plum- To two pounds of sliced plums, add the juice of one orange, one third of a cup of granulated sugar, one fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, and a fourth of a teaspoon of ground allspice. (Combine with peaches, raspberries or apricots for additional variations.)

Blueberry- To six cups of blueberries, add the zest and juice of one lemon, a half of a cup of granulated sugar, a fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, a teaspoon of ground ginger, and a fourth of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Strawberry Rhubarb- To four cups of prepared rhubarb and two cups of strawberries, add one cup of granulated sugar, one fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, a third of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.

Blackberry/Marionberry- To four cups of berries, add the juice of one lemon, a third of a cup of granulated sugar, a fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, and a fourth of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Sour Cherry- To four cups of pitted sour cherries, add the juice of half of a lemon, one cup of granulated sugar, one fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, and an eighth of a teaspoon of both ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.

Sweet Cherry- To six cups of pitted sweet cherries, add the juice of one lemon, one third of a cup of granulated sugar, one fourth of a cup of all purpose flour, and a fourth of a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.

Topping Variations - Add one half of a cup of sliced almonds or other finely chopped nut of your choice to the topping ingredients before cutting in the butter.

(Note: When using frozen fruit, which is perfectly acceptable, I find that the fruit can often become excessively watery. To counteract this effect, I add an additional two tablespoons of corn starch to the fruit mixture before baking. And, if baking from frozen, add an additional fifteen minutes to the baking time.)

Fruit crisps are quintessential comfort food, and simple recipes like these are really what drive me in the kitchen. Imagine that you know ten recipes by heart, and that you can make five variations of each. That’s fifty different dishes at your finger tips on any given day, and for most people, most of the time, that’s plenty. Whether it’s a dinner party, potluck, barbecue cookout, or romantic meal for two, these individual fruit crisps are a winner every time. I know that people often say that they don’t want dessert, but I can’t remember anyone ever turning down one of these crisps at my house. This one recipe is all that you need to make these delicious desserts all year long with whatever fresh, seasonal produce is available.

The first fruit crisp that I ever made was in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was only a small child. It was apple, I think, and my grandmother always used just the right amount of spice. Baked fruit desserts like these are so comforting and so well loved because we all remember these flavors from our childhoods. That’s the great thing about food: it lingers. For me, these crisps are much more than just a sweet treat to serve after dinner; they are a part of who I am. As cooks, we often forget that we are not simply preparing recipes or planning menus in the kitchen. We’re making memories. And what could be more delicious than that?

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114 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Other, Project Food Blog

114 responses to “Jacob’s Kitchen: Fruit Crisps 101 (Project Food Blog – Challenge 4)

  1. I love the combination of these luscious peaches and raspberries and crystallized ginger! But I’ll be able to try this only next summer :-(

    • Hi Alina!

      You could always use frozen fruit, and enjoy this crisp even in the winter! =) (just to be sure to add some corn starch to the fruit mixture, to prevent it from becoming too watery)

      Thanks for stopping by! =)

  2. Yummy! It looks delicious! :D

  3. Russell at Chasing Delicious

    I love fruit crisps! This looks like a delicious recipe; gorgeous pics. And I’m going to have to try some of those other combinations. I haven’t had a few of them.

    Good luck!

  4. Great post, wishing you the best of luck! My favorite photo is the one of the peach half peeled.
    -Gina-

  5. GORGE! Ahh that makes me want to and make one now, great job Jacob!

    Whit

  6. Not only is this incredibly appetizing, but I appreciated the peach lesson; this is a great trick to peel them for baking! Beautiful photography, and well done as a tutorial. Bravo!

  7. Wow…Beautiful photos and fantastic post! Your crisps look wonderful…I love the addition of the crystalized ginger.
    Good luck on the next round!

  8. The photo illustrations are great!! I would have loved for you to pick something a bit more difficult so that we could learn great tips. Hope you do this again with another dish!!!

  9. Great photos Jacob. Nicely done (= Best wishes!

  10. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels

    Wow Jacob, your photos are just stunning!!
    I love how you picked a dessert that everyone loves and isn’t too incredibly complicated. Some of the entries I’ve read were just WAY too complicated and they lost my interest.
    But yours is the complete opposite. Your entry kept my interest all the way through and I could follow your instructions. I love how you gave ideas for different variations (especially the marionberry!!!), what a fantastic idea. I can’t not get over how BEAUTIFUL your photos are, wow just wow!

    I’m hoping you make it all the way! Best of luck Jacob and you definitely have my vote. :)

  11. I love your different variations on the fruit crisps. I just made apple crisp today for my son’s b-day. He doesn’t like cake or chocolate, and wants apple crisp.
    Fruit crisps for me and my family are definitely comfort food. Your pictures are gorgeous!

  12. gabrielle

    as gorgeous as they are TASTY! it’s so decadent to have such rich luscious pieces of peach – any time of year!

    BRAVO, Jacob’s Kitchen! You’ve got my vote as always!

  13. Looks lovely! I’m going to make some tomorrow! Good luck to you!

  14. What a great idea for making ahead the topping and keeping some in the freezer. Match that with freezing fruits throughout the season and you’ll always have a hot, comforting dessert at the ready!

  15. Nothing better than a fruit crisp and with the melting ice cream – out of this world. Nicely done! Good luck with challenge #4!!

  16. Sherry Thrasher

    Beautiful as always. Good luck on round four! I’m holding out for your scone recipe. I think it would be an absolutely perfect Christmas gift.

  17. I have a bag of crystallized ginger here. I’m going to try that. Looks delicious (and photos were beautiful!).

  18. Oregon fruit, I love you. Those peaches look divine.

  19. Your fruit crisps sound delicious and look beautiful. Best wishes!

  20. looks delicious! great dessert step-by-step. best of luck!

  21. Thank you! Another wonderful, inspiring post.

    I think the photo of the peach in the ice bath is stunningly beautiful!

    I swear I can smell crisps baking right now! Yum.

  22. Lovely choice of dish for this round. Voted! :)

  23. Absolutely gorgeous…great job on this challenge!

  24. I love your pictures!!!! That peach! mmm, it looks juicy and delicious!
    Well done and good luck!

  25. I think there are few desserts that are better than crisps with a big scoop of ice cream on top.

    Of course you have my vote! Good Luck!

  26. Very pretty – those peaches are absolutely lovely. There’s such a charm in the way they blush.

  27. Wow, Jacob- you never fail to impress me!! I’ve loved every single one of your posts so far and I can’t wait to see all the rest! ;) You definitely have my vote (as always!) Best of luck!!

  28. These look amazing, great photos! You have my vote, hope to see you in round 5!

  29. Yay, fruit crisps! Love them, and your images really make me wish I had some with ice cream right now, and it’s just past 8:00 a.m.! Great work, and I can imagine how much time this all took.
    Voted for you – again!

  30. I was looking for a recipe on how to make a pear crisp, and this looks so good. Great pictures, you have my vote!

  31. All the photos are great. But I especially love the simplicity and beauty of the peel a peach section. It shows just how easy it is. GREG

  32. I agree with Greg – that photo of the half-peeled peach sold it for me. So deliciously sensual, like a beautiful woman slipping a silk robe off her shoulders. Oh my.

  33. Fruit crisps are one of my favorite fall treats. Your photos illustrate the process perfectly while making me crave fresh peaches and raspberries! Excellent work, and I’m voting for you right now!

  34. Oh to the kitchen I go, I have to try this, thanks!

  35. Great colors for a photo tutorial! I grew up in Oregon and miss the berries more than you can imagine.

  36. Nice…..I voted even before I saw this…Wish I could vote again!

  37. These are beautiful! I have been wanting to do a pear and blueberry crisp. This has inspired me. You got my vote! Hope to see you in the next round.

  38. This challenge is torturing me!! It all looks so yummy. Beautiful post.

    Lisa.

    I voted.

  39. foododelmundo

    Ginger in any way shape or form always steals my heart! Your photos are stunning, and to bring Grandma into the mix is FABULOUS! Thanks for visiting my neck of the woods and you’ve got a vote boomeranging your way.
    ~ Mary

  40. Gorgeous photography! I don’t think I’ve ever peeled a peach, believe it or not, so that’s my favorite photo. Got my vote!

  41. GORGEOUS Photography! You’ve got my vote. :)

  42. Joan in Seattle

    Jacob, Your writing is engaging, photos always beautiful and demonstrative, and recipes enticing. Thank you.

  43. Drooling, drooling, my friend. Inspiration for this weekend.

  44. Great photos, I love the peeled fruit. Fruit crisps are really a treat that I love to savor by myself on the sofa with my favorite magazine :) Well done – good luck in round 4

  45. Thanks everyone for all of your wonderful, supportive comments! This challenge was the furthest out of my comfort zone so far (as I have really struggled with in-process/step by step photos in the past). I did my best, and feel like I learned a lot in the process. Which I guess is exactly what this competition was designed to do. =)

    Thanks for all of your votes. I appropriate all of your support more than I can express.

    Happy eating, friends!

  46. Beautiful recipe and your photos are absolutely GORGEOUS!
    Cheers:)

  47. you have my vote again. your pictures are great and who doesn’t love fruits crisps? Seriously, genius.

  48. Great post – looks divine. Gets my vote.
    Sue

  49. I have one word…WOW!

  50. Oh Jacob, this is stunning, as usual. My mouth is watering now- thanks;) I want fruit crisp and I’m too lazy to make it at 8:11 pm!!!

    So classy. Seriously. Ditto on the vote, my friend. I hope to see you in round 5 too.

  51. your photos make me drool – partly out of jealousy because they are so beautiful and partly because I want to eat everything that you photographed. You absolutely have my vote.

  52. Love the idea of adding crystallized ginger…yum! Great post – hope to join you in the next round. Good luck!

  53. I love all the different options you present! The crisp and peaches are gorgeous, and I love the individual portions in ramekins… I made a cobbler that way myself during the summer.

  54. Yummmmmmy! Please wrap one of those up and send it on over.

  55. a little sweet treat for a fall afternoon

  56. This looks beautiful!! And I love, LOVE the touch of crystallized ginger :) Now, I’m totally tempted to try my own pretty fruit crisps!

  57. Great tutorial and phenomenal pictures as always! Good luck in round 4!

  58. wowowowowowo , i have nothing to say , i am just drooooooling ……….. u shud def win , all the best

  59. ela

    love the pictures of the fruits. well presented.
    congratulations!

  60. Yummy, looks great, wish you good luck :)

  61. Glorious colours on those fruits, and yummy crisp! Well done on advancing. Popping a heart on to help you along now ;)

  62. beautifully delicious! you’ve got my vote!

  63. Liz

    Love the idear of the individual ramekins! I also love the way you styled the ingredients. V nice. You have my vote!

  64. Finally I figure how to vote for you!! YEAH!

  65. Absolutely beautiful photos. Your post totally makes me think of fall.

  66. Great step by step! Very inviting and appealing. You’ve got my vote!

  67. Love your idea of freezing some extra topping for next time! So smart! Good luck with this round!

  68. Great photos, it looks delicious. Good luck in this round. You sure got my vote.

  69. Hot Polka Dot's Mom

    Mouthwatering! Love your inclusion of crystallized ginger and particularly like the pic of the partially peeled peach :) Got my vote!

  70. Lovely photos and a wonderful recipe to celebrate the tail-end of summer! I especially liked the set of photos for peeling the peach. Good luck this round!

  71. These crisps look just heavenly!!! I love the addition of crystallized ginger! An excellent tutorial! I voted and hope to see us both in the next round :)

  72. We did a nectarine and raspberry crisp a few months ago, I wish I had used crystallized ginger like you did. I might have to stray from tradition and try some of the variations you listed. Good luck this week, voting for you

    Lick My Spoon

  73. Crisps of all varieties are a staple dessert at my house, with the requisite scoop of ice cream. So, when I saw the shot with the ice cream at the end, my face just broke into a huge grin :) Beautifully photographed Jacob. Each of your posts just get better and better.

  74. Love the topic and the photo instruction, you’ve got a vote from me. – S

  75. What a cool and colourful recipe! Send one over and I’ll have it for breakfast! One vote from me!

    The Young Foodie

    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/4/view/1353

  76. I love love love photo tutorials. I think I love them so much that they sort of make it more or less into all of my blog posts. This looks fabulously delicious! Good luck!

  77. As usual great recipe, great photos, great job. good luck at round 4

  78. I’m a fall girl myself and I think what I love most about crisps is that they have a fruit you can use to make them in every season. Can’t beat that. these step-by-step directions are awesome and the pictures are gorgeous! You’ve got my vote!

    Thanks so much for stopping by my entry!

  79. Round 4 and another vote from me! You made this look so easy. I love the colors of the peaches and raspberries and the melting ice cream is divine! Great recipe and good luck in round 5 :-)

  80. These photos are mouth-watering! Best of luck, and fingers crossed for both of us! Voted!

  81. Lovely recipe and post Jacob! You definitely have a vote from me! Good luck to both of us (=

  82. excellent jacob, you have my vote :) I really do love your posts, you do a great job of explaining cooking procedures, and i am definitely going to try my hand at fruit crisps.

  83. There’s no other way to describe this — it’s absolute food pr0n! Gorgeous photos and a great article.

    Casting my vote…

  84. Excellent post – you got my vote for this! Good luck :) Feel free to hop over to leave a comment :)

    Have a wonderful day!
    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  85. Wow. This post is awesome. Not only are the pictures gorgeous but I am literally craving one of those fruit crisps now. I may be running to the store for ingredients tomorrow. I not only voted for you but I also subscribed to your site. Great job!

  86. Ben

    Beautiful photos, Jacob. Jealous that you still get such gorgeous peaches. I applaud your suggestion to use different kinds of fruit for this. A former coworker once made one with cantaloupe, with predictable results. I notice you wisely steered clear of that direction. ;)

  87. I love a great crisp for dessert. And for a long time my specialty was apple until this summer I made a peach crisp. Blew my apple version out of the water. Jacob, you’ve certainly met this challenge and gone above and beyond what was asked. You’ve got lovely pics and the directions are super clear to follow. Best of luck and I hope I get to vote for you (again) in the next round.

  88. Very beautifully done tutorial. Beautiful and very helpful tips. Fruit crisps are a dessert staple in our home; your tip to freeze extra topping is a great idea and time-saver. I never thought to add crystallized ginger, but I certainly will add that next time. Good luck! You’re doing great.

  89. Fantastic entry! Your crisp looks amazing and the walk-through was perfect. Each picture made me drool. This reminded me very much of what Food Network had in their last issue; different fruit combinations and toppings. Excellent job.

  90. absolutely gorgeous and vibrant. love the unusual addition of crystallized ginger. Each bite must burst in your mouth (voted and hope we both pass to round 5!)

  91. Beautiful photos! You’re getting my vote.

  92. Oh, these are so lovely. I can almost taste that melting ice cream! I make cobblers in lasagna pans but I love the idea of individual ones. Cheers! You got my vote :)

  93. Excellent photos!! This is just my type of dessert!
    Good luck!

  94. Just voted! I almost forgot, but your beautiful photos reminded me!

  95. another winner. i can almost smell it and wish i could taste it!

  96. You call them crisps, I call them crumbles but whatever you call them, they’re one of my absolute favourite kinds of desserts. Love the fruit combination and great suggestion to make extra topping and freeze half – I must remember to do that next time!

  97. tcmaryf

    What a great site and such yummy recipes. Thnx for all

  98. Great entry my dear and nice dish tutorial, voted

  99. Lovely dishes and photos
    Just voted for you, Good Luck!!!!

  100. Gorgeous, GORGEOUS photos…and peach and ginger are a favorite combo of mine. Fabulous post…you’ve got a vote from me :D!

  101. Beautiful photos. You have my vote. I have a craving for fruit.

  102. Looks fantastic, I voted for you!

  103. Gorgeous and delicious-looking photos! You have my vote! :-) Good luck!

  104. Hi Jacob, yes your dish looks wonderful as usual – awesome photos! Happy to be surrounded by such talent!!

  105. I love your posts because they are always so beautifully written and the photos are always gorgeous. This post made me feel warm and smile with bright eyes as I read and looked at your masterpiece. Nice touch with the variations.
    I voted already, but wanted to stop back and let you know how much I enjoyed it.
    – Butter
    (from Running On Butter)

  106. liz

    Peach and raspberry is my favorite pie and crisp combination…yours look divine!

  107. Hi Jacob – the colors in your post are so lovely. That is one gorgeous fruit crisp, love the photo with melting ice cream. Good luck as always!
    LL

  108. Jacob, this is such a BEAUTIFUL post!!!

  109. Wow – what a thorough post. Great pics and loved the recipe and variations on the theme. Best of luck in the FBP!

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