Crisp versus crumble. What’s the difference between the two? I recently came across an interesting King Arthur Flour blog on the subject. Technically, a fruit crisp topping is simply flour, sugar, and butter baked together while a fruit crumble topping adds oats and nuts to the mixture. As I continued reading, I stumbled upon this line: for a crispier crisp or crumblier crumble, bake the topping separate from the filling. The tip completely intrigued me.

Like any inquisitive baker, I set out to test the theory. I added brown butter and chopped pecans to my crumble topping for a nutty flavor; cinnamon and cardamom make an ideal match to the tender pear filling. Baking the topping separately from the fruit prevents it from becoming soggy or sinking into the fruit; instead, it remains nice and crumbly. To me, that’s a success.

Brown Butter Pear Crumble
Topping
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter

Filling
8 cups diced pears
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
pinch of salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom

Preheat oven to 350°F; line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. For the topping, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, pecans, and salt in a medium bowl. Cook butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, about 6 minutes. Add brown butter plus 2 tablespoons cold water to oatmeal mixture; toss to form crumbs. Spread topping in an even layer on prepared baking sheet.

For the filling, gently toss pears with lemon juice in a large bowl. Whisk together sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom in a small bowl; add to fruit and toss to combine. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Place topping and fruit in the oven simultaneously. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove topping from oven and stir; continue baking for another 15 minutes, until golden. Remove topping from oven. Continue to bake fruit until bubbly, about 45 minutes total. Remove fruit from the oven and sprinkle with topping. Cool crumble on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Yield – 12 servings
Calories – 240 (per serving)
Carbs – 40

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Hi, I’m Laura and welcome to Tutti Dolci, a baking and desserts blog celebrating all things sweet. Featuring beautiful, approachable recipes for everyday and entertaining, I love to put my own twist on classic desserts and inspire a passion for baking.

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35 comments

  1. Gorgeous pear crumble, Laura! I read the same thing about the differences between crisps and crumbles. So glad you added that tidbit from KAF. They are on the same page as CI with cobblers to keep the topping more crisp…bake separately. Thanks for sharing, girl!

  2. When it comes to crisps and crumbles, my only lament has always been the soggy topping/crust…baking it separately is sheer genius! Thanks for the tip, and the scrumptious recipe!

  3. Ok, that is a genius discovery. I mean, it is obvious, but I never thought to actually do it! So cool!

    Oh and brown butter! Yeah, I think we are thinking a like these days!

  4. Crumbles don’t ever look as exciting as they taste. But once you add that scoop of ice-cream on top-the temptation level escalates. Interesting info from KAF about the difference, Laura!

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