Something weird is going on – part of me is completely elated to be home in the United States with all the time in the world (all the time I’ve been longing for for years) to get cooking. The other part of me keeps finding little ways to avoid it. I’ll just admit it: I don’t feel like cooking.
Maybe its because there is a whole world of amazing things to eat in Portland without me lifting a finger? Maybe its because I’m not in my own kitchen (where we don’t even have a rolling pin or muffin tins?! I mean, REALLY?!) Maybe its because I haven’t found the right outlet to buy produce yet and so everything seems to be squash and apples and all again too early?
Knowing full well that I’ve been going through…this….my father in law brought me a little gift the other weekend when he returned home from a fishing trip with his brother. It sounds as if there was little fishing and much more of a sitting-around-and-catching-up-on-a-boat-in-the-Columbia type of trip, (which I imagine was pretty excellent just the same.) Instead, he had stopped at a farmstand and brought me a very lovely bag of Oregon-grown organic hazelnuts. JACKPOT! I LOVE hazelnuts and he may or may not have known this….but what he did know is that it had been quite some time since I’d baked him anything for dessert and his plan to get me into the kitchen worked like a charm.
I had seen this recipe some time ago and just loved this idea, so started heading in that direction. I chose to substitute Deb’s granola, however, with my own variation of that contains a bit less butter and is generally less dense; in the version you’ll find below the fruit is really the star of the show with the granola being just a sprinkling of goodness on the top. I also nixed the apples and employed pears + some dried cherries we had on hand and haven’t turned back.
While the gift that inspired this recipe was somewhat of a surprise, the fact that its one of the only things I’ve been baking with much consistency isn’t. The assembly and baking is easy, plus its a great make-ahead breakfast you can store in the fridge and munch on all week. And, it can roll between breakfast and dessert after dinner; I grab a bowl and warm it up when I come in from from a run, with a big dollop of greek yogurt on top. My father in law eats it with so much ice cream you can barely see the crumble from beneath. (Sorry to out-ya, Norm.)
What else – oh, oat flour! I employ it here because I like the texture and the flavor profile. You can buy oat flour in most well stocked markets these days but you could also make it yourself by pulsing quick or rolled oats in your food processor until they take on a flour like texture. And, of course, you could substitute another type of flour if you wish in this case. This goes for the fruits (apples are also nice,) the cherries (currants, cranberries and raisins would all work) and the nuts in the crust; if hazelnuts don’t strike your fancy, mix it up and let me know how it comes out!
**I want to call out something that feels important (as a pastry geek) because not all baked fruit desserts are created equal. Deb’s recipe – and mine – are both CRUMBLES, because they have oats in the granola topping. They would be CRISPS if they lacked those oats. And better yet, they’d be COBBLER if we used a biscuit like dough over the top of the fruit, dolloped like a little cobblestone road of goodness. If you’re like me and find this sort of thing interesting, you can read more about it here.**
- 1 2/3 cups organic quick oats
- 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
- 1/3 cup oat flour
- 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted + chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
- 3 lbs pears, cored (optional to peel them!)and cut into chunks - roughly 7 pears
- 1 cup dried tart bing cherries
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp raw cane sugar
- 2 Tbsp oat flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- (optional pinch of salt)
- Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Bust out that 9x13 inch pan and combine the pear chunks with the dried cherries, lemon juice, sugar, oat flour, cinnamon and (optional) salt. Gently toss the ingredients so that all the pear chunks are evenly coated.
- Next, make the granola topping: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Turn off the heat and add the maple syrup, oats, sugar, oat flour, hazelnuts, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir until the oats are well coated and little clumps of granola batter form. Again, you aren't cooking the granola mixture here - just avoiding using a separate bowl to incorporate all the ingredients so once the mixture is nicely combined, sprinkle the granola evenly over the pear mixture in the pan.
- Bake the crumble for 45-55 minutes, or until the pears are bubbling up. I find that the granola starts to brown faster than the pears cook; check the crumble at 25 minutes and cover the pan with aluminum foil if this is happening to you as well. Remove the foil again in the last 5 minutes of baking so that the granola will crisp.
- Eat immediately with a big dollop of yogurt. The crisp keeps well; cool to room temperature and store in the fridge for up to one week for breakfasts on the fly.