Does the idea of turning on the oven to bake summer fruit destroy your morale, too? How one writer got over herself, and reaped the rewards.
I have a thing for stone fruit. Peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries—oh, whoa, cherries—are, pun intended, my jam. I went to the farmers’ market last weekend, returned with a full pound of cherries, and ate them all in one go, standing over the sink, spitting their dark hearts straight into the sink strainer. (What, you don’t want to come over for dinner?)
As an editor, I’ve commissioned cocktail recipes based on stone fruits. As a cook, I’ve reduced them into syrups to serve with duck and sliced them up for salads. As an eater, I’ve enjoyed plenty of friends’ pies, crisps, and crumbles.
But I hadn’t baked them myself until last summer. Anna Stockwell at Epicurious detailed an inspiring no-recipe-crisp approach that laid out all the ways to eat more baked stone fruit. In her anti-recipe, baking resembled cooking—that is, it was completely flexible and could accommodate what I had on hand. Since I had ripe peaches and blueberries, and know the two together are divine, I threw them into a glass baking dish with lemon zest, brown sugar, and nutmeg. I crumpled oats, flour, a pinch of salt, the butter I had, cinnamon, and more sugar in a separate bowl. I made a batch of cocktails. I watched some Transparent. I came back to my crumble and turned on the oven. (375° seemed doable, even in July.)
The best part about crumbles is that, as you know, there’s no crust required. It’s not just “simple crust.” It’s “stupid-simple crust.” It’s “take as much flour as you have, join it to whatever else you have, add butter and spices and sugar, mix it with one hand while sipping a cocktail you’re holding in the other, and dump it on top of your gorgeous fruit” simple.
Into the oven the tart went, I finished my Netflix episode, and my nose let me know it was done about half an hour later. Cold heavy cream went into an immersion blender, homemade whipped cream came out, and I think I ate half the dessert all by my lonesome.
Best of all, next-day crumbles are just as good, and can be turned into parfaits, in a pinch.
So yes, turning on the oven in midsummer isn’t ideal, it’s true. But if it hasn’t been a Super Scorcher, wait till nighttime, make a crumble before you sleep, and dig in the next day. It’ll still be dreamy—especially if you have time to heat it up again, but even if you don’t. It’s just one more way to carpe diem during stone fruit season.
Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.