Friday, October 26, 2012

how to make an 80th birthday crisp

Just to be clear, this is about making a "crisp" which is a noun when it is the name of a baked fruit dessert. It is not about how to make an 80th birthday crisp as in the adjective for crunchy, fresh, neat or lively.

I realised I have not posted a "how to cook something" blog in a little while. When I baked a fruit crisp for my mom's 80th birthday recently, I photographed the process. So here we go...

Mom had a delicious home-made layer cake on her actual birthday, at my sister's house in Cranbrook. A week later we celebrated with Mom at home. She wanted a lighter dessert, so I made an apple blueberry cranberry crisp. I got some gorgeous Norther Spy apples at the Coquitlam Farmers' Market. I sliced these into an oiled casserole, then added some frozen blueberries from the big batch that Andy and I picked this summer. Then I used up the leftover fresh cranberries from our Thanksgiving dinner. Notice how I partially sliced each cranberry before adding them? Cranberries are prone to bursting as they heat, and I didn't want mini dessert explosions disrupting my baking effort.

Next, I mixed one cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and a teaspoon of cinnamon, then I stirred the mixture into the apples and berries in the casserole. If I was a neatnik, I would have done this in a large bowl rather than in (and out of) the crowded casserole. But a neatnik I am not, so it was a bit messy. Don't worry, it's not essential to have it completely combined. The bubbling juices will move the sugar and cornstarch around as the crisp bakes.

For the topping, I mixed 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, and 1/2 cup cooking oil. You can use butter or margarine instead of the oil but then it's not vegan-friendly. Too much of the world is not vegan-friendly, so I used the oil, which makes just as nice a topping as any alternative. (Are you thinking "What? Isn't margarine vegan-friendly?" Please read up. Most regular margarine is not.)

You may have noticed that the fruit and topping are mounded up pretty high. I always think this when I am building a crisp. It won't stay that way, however. As the fruit cooks it will collapse, as the water leaves the cells and turns into the yummy juice that will rise up in the casserole. That's why we use cornstarch after all, to thicken up the juice, so the finished dessert is yummy and gooey, not yummy and drippy.

Bake the whole thing for 45 minutes to an hour at 350. If the top browns before you can see the gooey bubbles all through the dessert, cover the top loosely (tight wrapping will trap the steam and defeat the crispiness of the topping) with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking.

Here's how it should look when it's ready.

Here's how Mom looked when we sang happy birthday to her. I know we're not using crisp as an adjective here, but don't you think my mom looks crisp (in a good way)?

question: what does crisp mean to you?

mompoet - happy birthday to mompoet's mom

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