Apple crisp has been a staple of fall and winter desserts in my house since I was a kid. The recipe my mother used probably came from a Better Homes & Garden’s cookbook, and is still how I make it today, though I’ve cut back on the sugar. Butter, flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and cinnamon are the main ingredients, with the occasional addition of nuts. I make it in the summer with stone fruits, like cherries and plums or berries. When it comes to spring, rhubarb’s the best fresh candidate for the filling, with or without the addition of strawberries. I recently came across a recipe in a gardener’s community handbook, which used pecans, and then Mark Bittman in the New York Times used pecans. In my “mental tastebuds,” if there is such a thing, I couldn’t quite pair pecans with rhubarb but I had a few stray pecans in the pantry, so why not give it a try? It was surprisingly good, as the pecans worked well with the crisped oatmeal.
I vary the amount of topping according to the filling and the size of the pan, so this recipe is just indicative.
1 lb rhubarb, cleaned and cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 4 cups
1 long strip of orange rind (no pith), cut into small strips
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp – 1/4 c sugar
Handful of strawberries (optional)
¼ cup soft butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (or more to taste)
2/3 cup oatmeal flakes
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the fruit mixture and pour into a baking dish.
Combine the topping ingredients and pat them into a crust on top of the fruit.
Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pour a little heavy cream on top, or serve with whipped cream or ice cream or just plain. Serves four.