This month, we’re exploring another ancillary publication from America’s Test Kitchen: American Classics. First up on the docket, I put their warm Peach Crumble to the test…
…and then I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
There seem to be a couple of different accounts as to how crumbles came to be. According to Wikipedia, the Brits invented crumbles during World War II, and were made due to rationing — pies required amounts of ingredients that were nearly impossible to come by. Crumbles (also called Crisps in some parts of the U.S.) came into being because the tops were simple to make, and didn’t require a large amount of those coveted ingredients. A different historical account comes to us from What’s Cooking America, explaining that it was the other way around — Brits copied the settlers, who were not very good at recreating their European recipes, and all of these different creations we have today are the product of their attempts. All I know is our founding forefathers sailed here and then sat down at a long picnic table wearing funny hats, big buckles, and pointy shoes, ate some turkey and corn, and then bought Manhattan with some beads.
Surprisingly enough, this actually tastes like peaches, and not some slobbery mess of syrup. The crumble on top is baked twice — first by itself on a tray, then a second time on top of the peaches.
One thing that does bug me about this dessert is that reheating it in the microwave is tricky. I have found that, if you have too much syrup in your bowl during the reheat, and your crumble gets a little too mixed up in it, all of the flour starts to break down into a goopy mess. So if you do reheat this later in a microwave, use a slotted spoon and don’t add a ton of the peach juice.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, American Classics
3 1/2 pounds ripe but firm peaches (6 to 7 medium), peeled and pitted; each peach halved and cut into 3/4 inch chunks (about 6 1/2 cups prepared peaches)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch table salt
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and very soft
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Adjust oven racks to lower and middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees.
FOR THE FILLING: Gently toss peaches and sugar together in large bowl; let stand for 30 minutes, tossing several times. Drain peaches in colander set over large bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup drained peach juice, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in small bowl; discard excess peach juice. Toss juice mixture with peaches and transfer to 8-inch-square glass baking dish.
FOR THE TOPPING: While peaches are macerating, combine flour, sugars (reserving 1 tablespoon granulated sugar), and salt in bowl of food processor; drizzle vanilla over top. Pulse to combine mixture, about five 1-second pulses. Add butter and half of nuts; process until mixture clumps together into large, crumbly balls, about 30 seconds, pausing halfway through to scrape down sides of bowl. Sprinkle remaining nuts over mixture and combine with two quick pulses. Transfer mixture to parchment-lined baking sheet and spread into even layer (mixture should break up into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with some smaller, loose bits). Bake on middle rack until chunks are lightly browned and firm, 15 – 20 minutes.
TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Grasping edges of parchment paper, slide topping over peaches and spread into even layer with spatula, packing down lightly and breaking up any very large pieces. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar over top and place on lower oven rack. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until well browned and fruit is bubbling around edges, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack until warm, at least 15 minutes; serve.