Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pear Cranberry Vanilla Crumble...but it's really Apple

Apple Crumble - made March 28, 2011, adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley (book #72)

The original title of this recipe was Pear, Cranberry and Vanilla Crumble but I don't really like pears and I didn't have any cranberries on hand.  Plus apples are one of my favorite fruits and I prefer apple desserts anyway so I adapted it to become an apple crumble.  But I did list the original recipe below in case anyone prefers the pear and cranberry version.  This recipe is similar to the apple crisp recipe I just did so I decided to mix it up a little.  As I said in the Apple Crisp recipe, the oat topping was great and the best of both worlds would have been to have a cobbler dough layer on the bottom.  So that's what I did with this.  I made half the recipe from the Apple Crumble Bars to use for the bottom layer (I only needed half since I was making a different topping) then followed Regan Daley's recipe except I substituted 3 large Granny Smith apples for the pears and cranberries.  The good thing about cobblers, crisps and crumbles is they also tend to be very forgiving with experimentation.

The crust bottom, filling mix and topping all have the same core elements: flour, brown sugar, and butter.  So they're easy to throw together in a short timeframe.  Baking time might be longer or shorter than the recipe calls for, depending on how thick or thin you make the crumble.  I use the toothpick test to see how tender the apples are as well as check how brown the topping is.  You don't want the topping to be soggy or the apples to be too firm.  I started off baking this at 375 degrees like the recipe called for but my baking dish was a bit small so the crumble was thick and I was afraid of the top browning too fast before the apples cooked so I turned the heat down to 350 degrees after the first 15 minutes.  I ended up baking this for about 50 minutes but don't take that as gospel since it really does depend on how thick you make your crumble.  The apples were only slightly firm when I poked them with a toothpick and the juice was bubbling along the sides so I figure it was close to done.

I really enjoyed the modifications to this.  Loved having the cobbler crust on the bottom and love the crunchy oat topping covering the apples which had just the right amount of juice and flavor.  This could be my new standard for apple cobbler.  What I like about the oat topping is it provides added texture and flavor from my usual recipe which was mostly flour, brown sugar and butter.  And you can't go wrong with a pie-crust-type bottom layer - you just can't. I served this to a couple of guests today (my former Sunday School teachers, David and Sandy) and they enjoyed it as well so I'm glad it's not just my bias :).

Crust (half recipe from Apple Crumble Bars)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup powdered sugar
3/8 cup light brown sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Seeds of 1 plump vanilla bean, hull reserved for another use
¼ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5-6 medium-sized ripe but not mushy eating pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou
3 cups fresh cranberries

1.    Preheat oven to 375⁰F.  Butter a large (2 ½-quart) shallow baking dish, preferably ceramic.
2.    Make the crust: combine all ingredients and cut the butter into the dry ingredients until butter is the size of small peas and mixture is crumbly.  Spread evenly on the bottom of the baking dish.
3.   Make the topping: Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in a mixing bowl and cut together until the largest pieces are about the size of the oats.  Use your fingers to rub the ingredients together until the mixture forms a crumbly dough.  The crumble can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
3.    Make the filling: In a large bowl, stir together the vanilla seeds, sugars, cornstarch and cinnamon.  Peel and core the pears and cut them into sixths or eighths.  Add the pears and cranberries to the mixing bowl and toss gently to thoroughly coat the fruit.  Scatter the fruit mixture in the baking dish, then crumble the oat mixture over top, distributing it evenly.
4.    Bake the crumble for 35 to 45 minutes for a shallow dish, 45 to 55 minutes for a deeper casserole, or until the top is crisp and golden and the filling can be seen bubbling up through the cracks.  Cool at least 15 minutes before serving, then serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream.


  1. Mmm, I definitely wish I had a dish of that. I'd dig right in with delight.

  2. I actually like your modification. I don't care for cranberries that much. But, I LOVE apples. I'd like to invite you to share one of your recipes on A Well-Seasoned Life's Sweet Indulgences Sunday this week.