Summer Crisp: peaches and berries and streusel, oh my!

Is there anything quite so lovely as the blush of a summer peach?

A perfectly ripe peach, juicy, full of flavor, the essence of peachiness?

Does such a creature exist anymore?

If so — tell me where!

img_4024.JPG

I know there must be perfect peaches out there somewhere. Unfortunately, they’re not an everyday reality. Unlike bananas or apples or oranges, which are reliable year-round, a good peach is hard to find.

You grow your own? Great! Live near a peach orchard? Finest kind.

But it seems the farther peaches travel, the less likely they are to be edible. That means those of us without peach trees, and far from peach-growing hotspots like California, Georgia, and South Carolina, are nearly always deprived of the quintessential peach experience: that first crisp-soft bite, the explosion of flavor, the juice running over your hand and down your arm.

Peach paradise. Joie de pêche.

So, given the perfect peach is as rare as a sunny day in June (New England, June 2009), let’s go to Plan B: frozen peaches.

And what you can do with them. Which is plenty. Peach Pie. Peach Gingerbread. Peach Cobbler, Peach Scones, Peach MuffinsPeach Pizza!

Or a simple Summer Fruit Crisp, packed with peaches and berries, topped with streusel, and baked to bubbling perfection.

Granted, it’s not A FRESH PEACH.

But I wouldn’t turn it down. Especially when served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.

img_9552.JPG

Trust me here. For baking, IQF (individually quick frozen) peaches are superior to rock-hard, under-ripe fresh peaches any day.

img_9554.JPG

This is one 16-ounce bag, thawed.

img_9558.JPG

The crisp needs to be thickened. So I’m mixing 2 1/2 tablespoons Instant ClearJel with 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; mixing first prevents the ClearJel from clumping.

Easiest way to mix thoroughly? Put thickener, sugar, and salt in a container, snap on the lid, and shake. Wait a second (for the contents to settle), and open. Perfectly mixed ingredients, no extra tools required.

img_9562.JPG

Pour onto the thawed peaches.

img_9563.JPG

Stir to combine.

img_9564.JPG

You know what the really nice thing about ClearJel is? As you stir, the mixture thickens as you watch it. No need to guess if you’ve added the right amount of thickener: you can see where you’re at before baking, and adjust the amount if necessary. It’ll thicken aslight bit more as it bakes, but at least you’ll know you’re in the ballpark, thickening-wise.

FYI, our Pie Filling Enhancer works the same way; it’s simply ClearJel pre-mixed with some sugar, allowing you to skip that step. Oh, plus a touch of ascorbic acid, which heightens fruit’s flavor, and protects its color as it bakes.

You can also forgo either of the thickeners above, and use 1/3 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour instead; mix it with the sugar, then stir it into the peaches.

img_9566.JPG

Pour the peaches into a lightly greased 9” x 9” square pan, or casserole-dish equivalent. Sprinkle on raspberries; again, frozen are just fine. Since I want to start with about 6 cups of fruit, and the peaches totalled 4 cups, I’ve used a cup of raspberries…

img_9567.JPG

…and a cup of frozen blueberries.

img_9569.JPG

Here it is, ready for its topping.

img_9570.JPG

Now for the topping. Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

img_9572.JPG

Whisk to combine, then add 1/2 cup soft butter. Mix till crumbly. Better to under-mix than over-mix; go too far, and you’ll end up with topping that’s cohesive, not crumbly.

img_9574.JPG

Pour the topping over the fruit.

img_9575.JPG

Thud.

img_9577.JPG

Shake the pan; the topping will redistribute itself nicely.

img_9578.JPG

Place in a 350°F oven.

img_9596.JPG

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. You’ll notice the filling bubbling, and topping turning golden brown.

img_9604.JPG

Remove from the oven.

img_9608.JPG

While it’s tempting to dig right in, please let the crisp rest for 20 minutes or so before serving. The filling will thicken nicely, and it’ll still be pleasantly warm.

img_9661.JPG

Well, I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream, but imagine it melting on top here. Or not; this is REALLY good in all its fruity simplicity.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Summer Fruit Crisp.

Buy: Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company, Cundy’s Harbor, Maine — Deep-Dish Peach Crisp (ordered online for home delivery), $1.14/ounce

The Hotel at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama — Peach Crisp with Crème Anglaise, $5/serving

Bake at home: Summer Fruit Crisp, 18¢/ounce; $1.06/serving.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Beth

    This was very tasty, but far too sweet in my opinion. Not sure if it’s because I used overripe peaches from the local farm. I would probably cut the sugar in half. Didn’t stop anyone from gobbling up small portions!

    Reply
  2. Judith Loring

    Once I make peach cobbler, can I freeze it to use later, like in a week or so? Have a family gathering, want to cook and bring with me but no way to cook and bring the next day. Any ideas/comments will be much appreciated as I’m trying to make a good impression on future in-laws!

    Cook first, then freeze. To really entice the recipients of your baking efforts, re-heat the cobbler before serving time. Bring it to room temp. then heat at 250′ for 30 minutes. It may be helpful to do a test run with the recipe, freezing and reheating, to be sure your results are perfect for the future in-laws! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  3. Lish

    I made this following the recipe exactly a few weeks ago and loved it! We went peach and raspberry picking this past weekend and my son wanted the crisp again. I used half the amount of sugar in both the filling and topping, I used a little more than half the butter in the topping, and I used white whole wheat flour and slivered almonds in the topping. It still came out awesome, my husband and kids liked it even better this way, and they usually think more sugar is better. The ripe peaches were so sweet and juicy it was the perfect summer dessert with a batch of homemade fresh pasta with a veggie heavy sauce with the fresh veggies from the weekends farmers market. Yummy! I love this recipe and will continue to make it as long as I can get some fresh peaches.

    Would this work with home canned peaches? I am canning some that we picked this week. It should. You would need to increase the amount of thickener that you use. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  4. Hipolito Lagares

    This is a great recipe!!! King Arthur is the best.We live in South Jersey and we have plenty of fresh peaches.We just got done with the blueberry season but we have plenty of them frozen. We use white and yellow peaches and blueberries and it is great.

    Reply
  5. Robin

    You’re entirely welcome PJH. It was all my doing, of course. 😉

    Out there pruning and picking, huh? You do GOOD work! PJH

    Reply
  6. Robin

    Oh boy, fresh peaches! I grew up in Michigan and helped my mother can bushels of local peaches, pears and apples. Peach crisp was a great wintertime treat, but I always loved eating a fresh ripe peach, fuzz and all, the juice running down your chin–yum! Mom would use the bruised fruit to make batches of jam (after cutting out the bad spots of course). She would put a couple of hulled peach pits in the jam while it was cooking to give it a nice bitter almond flavor. There’s nothing like homemade peach jam on homemade bread! 🙂

    The crisp recipe posted above is excellent. For anyone gluten intolerant, try substituting Ancient Grains flour for the all-purpose flour. I’ve found GF flours work pretty well in streusel toppings. They might not brown as much as wheat flour so you have to keep an eye on the timing, but the results are very tasty. Just make sure to follow the directions to not mix the topping too much, or you’ll get a layer of sandy mush in place of crunchy goodness 🙂

    Peaches are in season here in southeastern PA. We can buy Jersey peaches in the stores, and local orchards have plenty for sale both in their roadside stands and at farmers markets. Summertime fresh fruits rule!

    Robin, just had my very first GOOD peach of the season, up here in New Hampshire – at the local coop store, from Pennsylvania. THANK YOU, Pennsylvania! A great peach experience at last. PJH

    Reply
  7. Linda

    about peaches…..

    Born and raised in South Carolina. Grew up picking peaches off the tree’s, which as as kids we hated because the fuzz would get on us and we would itch until bath time. How ever we grew up eating the best of the best peaches. Ripe, juicy, delicate exquisite but unstable for shipping because they ripen and bruise very quickly and easily. Come visit the south during the month’s of July and August and I promise you the best peaches you have ever eaten. The other 10 month’s of the year we pretty much eat them out of the freezer. It’s just not the same, good, but not the same. I love peach crisp and can’t wait to try this recipe.

    Reply
  8. Heidi

    Mulberry pie was one of my favorites when we lived in the Midwest and collected these big juicy ones.

    2 cups of mulberries
    1 cup finely chpped rhubarb
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup flour
    2 Tbsp. butter

    Combine fruits. Add flour and sugar mixed together and toss with fruit. Place in 8″ pie crust and dot with butter. Apply top crust and bake at 425 for 40-50 minutes.

    Thanks, Heidi – I never knew what to do with these berries except climb in to the tree (bush? as in round and round the…) and eat them. 🙂 PJH

    Reply

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *