The best summer fruit belongs in this crispy, buttery crumble
Chocolate is my default dessert mode. I eat enough berries, peaches, apricots and plums out of hand in the summer that I never feel a great urgency to use them when I'm baking. But then something like this Summer Fruit Crumble comes along and I'm reminded how delightful it is to incorporate some of the season's best fruit into a simple, comforting treat.
A blueberry crumble from the late, great cookbook author Maida Heatter caught my eye. Blueberries are wonderful, of course, and you won't go wrong if you only use them. My favorite rendition, however, was a mixed berry number, with blueberries, blackberries, cherries and raspberries. Peaches were quite nice, too, if a little soupier. The bottom line -- use whatever you like or have in excess.
Be sure your butter for the streusel-like topping is cold. Chilling the butter is extra insurance against it melting into the rest of the ingredients as you work it in with your hands. That way, you get enticing nuggets of topping (large crumbs are not only good, but encouraged) rather than a cohesive sand. The end result is crunchy and a little rich and, true to Heatter's promise, stays crisp well after the crumble comes out of the oven. Nuts (again, take your pick) add an extra layer of texture and flavor, but feel free to leave them out if you prefer, for allergy or any other reasons.
Ideally, you'll be making this in an 11-by-8-inch baking dish, with sides at least 2 inches tall. If that's not in your cabinet, try for a similar dish whose volume is at least 2 quarts. We also tested this in a 9-inch square dish, which may require a few more minutes of baking time. A ceramic or other non-glass dish is preferable, because they can tolerate being run under the broiler, which helps brown the topping. If glass is all you have, you can use it, but skip broiling. The crumble will still be attractive and delicious.
A dessert like this naturally calls for being served with ice cream, heavy cream or whipped cream -- and a healthy dose of summer sunshine.