I moved to Seattle at the very start of winter and even before I felt like I was given the chance to hit the ground running, the world itself seemed to be losing its energy. Trampled leaves blanketed sidewalks in grey and brown rot and the sun sighed out every last bit of life by the time I’d leave work. For my first 6 months here, I knew only rain and cold and darkness and listened to the tales of the elusive “summer” that shyly crawls in each year for its brief time to shine. And, at last, that time arrived.
This summer has been tinged with its own bit of magic I’ve never really seen in summer before. Far from the sticky hot, firefly and cicada ones of my home, these don’t hesitate to remind you that there are still snow-capped mountains across the sound, touching the perpetually blue skies. It lets you know that the sun does, in fact, know how to stay up past bedtime, and that, unfortunately, everyone suffers through a heat wave together because this place has no concept of air conditioning. To my utter delight as well, it has been a haven for cherries and the only place I know of where Whole Foods has the occasional $3.99/pound of Rainier Cherries.
With cherries aplenty, that I normally just decide to snack on, I was reminded that fruit desserts so often are the best kind: thrown together. And that is exactly the only kind I can make when the larger portion of my baking supplies remains boxed up in my parent’s garage 3000 miles away. So tell me that I only need a bowl and a pyrex dish?? Hell, I’m game even if it does require a brief span of time where the oven is on. And given that some of my favorite summer desserts fall into the category of crumble/crisp/cobbler, not only for the crunchy, buttery bits but also because of their natural affinity for ice cream, I couldn’t resist a little cherry crumble action.
This particular crisp makes use of a gluten free topping, one that is comprised of both whole oats and oat flour. Although quite wet and sandy when mixed together, it bakes up beautifully into crisp and golden nuggets with a deep nutty flavor due to both almonds and almond extract. The filling uses sweet cherries mixed with blueberries and lemon juice for an added bit of tang. This is a time where a cherry pitter would have been a nice addition to life but, alas, a paring knife and 30 minutes of spare time had to suffice. Regardless of how you get there, however, that deep rich cherry syrup will make it worth every last bit of effort from your cherry-stained hands.
Cherry Oat Crumble
Adapted from The Kitchn
For the Fruit Filling
1lb 4oz pitted sweet cherries, quartered
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbs lemon juice
For the Crumble Topping
2 cups gluten free oats, divided
½ cup slivered almonds
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
8 Tbs (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9x9 inch glass baking dish.
In a small bowl combine the granulated sugar and cornstarch. In a larger bowl, combine the fruit. Add the sugar mixture, lemon zest, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Tip the fruit into the baking dish.
Add 1 cup of the oats to a food processor or blender and process until you have a fine flour. Add the almonds and pulse a few times until they are the texture of coarse sugar. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining cup of oats, brown sugar, and salt and stir to combine. Stir in the butter, vanilla extract and almond extract. Use your hands to combine well and gently squeeze the mixture into chunky crumbles.
Scatter the crisp topping over the fruit and bake until the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges and the topping is golden and crisp. Let cool for 30 minutes before dishing up and serving with vanilla ice cream.