Summer means berries and berries mean crisps. But nothing keeps me away from this crisp recipe: I freeze lots of berries to enjoy it all year. I’ve made it with all kinds of berries, strawberry/rhubarb, and even fruits like mango and peach. The recipe began as the Seattle Times Three-Berry Crisp with Butter-Nut Crumb Topping but over the years it’s morphed into my own. One thing’s the same: the topping is flakey, rich, and studded with chopped walnuts.
I use a light hand with the topping and plenty of berries. I let the berries speak for themselves instead of adding lemon or sugar to them. The crisp is still plenty rich for my family, especially once they’ve added the inevitable scoop of ice cream on top.
The mixture of regular and powdered sugar gives the topping an especially soft, flakey crumb. That, and using a saturated fat instead of an oil to make it. I’ve tried both, and conceded that coconut oil works best here (or butter, if you use it). If you make the vegan, non-dairy version I’ve written up below, the small amount of coconut oil used won’t give the crumble a noticeable coconut flavor. The coconut is there, but it’s subtle. I used gluten-free baking mix instead of wheat flour, but use what suits you.
Any sugar works, but I often use coconut palm sugar here for its color and flavor. For the powdered sugar component you can make your own if you want. It only takes a minute (less with a Vitamix) in the blender or food processor. That way you can use all unrefined sugar. Keep in mind that you need a certain critical mass of sugar for the food processor or blender work properly, an amount which will vary depending on the size of your machine. So you’ll need to make more powdered sugar than the small amount required by the crisp. Whether you use store-bought or homemade powdered sugar, don’t omit it: it’s one of the secrets of the topping’s texture.
Enjoy! And if you make the recipe, please let me know how you liked it in the comments below.
- for the berry filling:
- 6-7 cups mixed berries (blueberry, blackberry, marionberry, raspberry)
- 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
- For the topping:
- ¾ cup unsifted flour (I used Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix, you can use that or whole wheat pastry flour or white flour)
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbsp. plus one tsp. unrefined granulated sugar such as coconut palm sugar or muscovado sugar
- 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (can be homemade from unrefined sugar)
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- For the fruit, combine berries and tapioca starch in 9 by 12 glass baking dish.
- For the topping, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, granulated and powdered sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts) in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir dry topping ingredients together thoroughly.
- Place coconut oil in a glass measuring cup and microwave briefly until liquid (or heat on the stove in a small pot).
- Pour coconut oil into dry ingredients and mix together with fork or hands.
- The topping should come together as a crumb. If it does not due to variations in flour moisture, add a little more coconut oil until the mixture comes together.
- Gently place topping on top of fruit. Break up large crumbs, but don’t mash the topping into the fruit.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until topping begins to brown.