The first day of Spring is one thing, and the first Spring day is another.
The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.
Henry van Dyke
When most people think of Spring, especially half-way through the month of May, no doubt fresh flowers, birds nesting, and warm breezes come to mind. In most other places this would be true, however, the weather here in New Mexico is not usually so obliging, as we mentioned before in previous posts, talking about the ever present wind. Living in the High Desert usually means skipping over most of the Spring season entirely, heading straight from the depths of frigid Winter, to the blistering heat of mid-Summer, all in the short span of a month. Although we can, and often do, get a lot of snow in the Winter, the rest of the year is usually very dry, due mostly to the constant wind. Rain begins to take on an entirely new quality here.
Because of the high elevation, the sunlight has a harsher, brighter quality than almost anywhere else, causing a place like Seattle, even on its sunniest day, to seem dark in comparison. As a result, at the first hint of a storm approaching, everything seems to slow down, almost become calmer, preparing itself for the coming moisture, enlivening the ground with new life. Grass and weeds literally seem to have the capacity of springing up in a matter of hours; in the afternoon the soil is completely brown and bare, by the next morning, green shoots are everywhere. Though this year the Spring weather has not been obliging, today being more reminiscent of March rather than May, cold, dark, damp, and brooding. Yet no one is truly upset, because even the darkest storms offer the chance, the distant hope, that plants will grow green again and flowers will bloom. This is what Spring is like in the High Desert.
The other day we wanted to make a dessert, as well as create a new recipe. But what to make when you don’t have a lot of time, and are short on ingredients?
Crumbles and cobblers are recipes which seem to be coming back in vogue recently, appearing in books, blogs, and just about everywhere you look. Quick and easy to make, it is a recipe which has always been a family favorite, but not something we ever made gluten free, until now.
Crumbles allow you to use up almost any sort of fruit, apples, berries, cherries, peaches, creating untold numbers of different combinations, all tasting incredibly delicious when served warm, with a flaky crumble topping.
As the story goes, crumble was first invented somewhere in the British Isles during WWII, when food rationing was so severe that the ingredients needed to make a fruit pie were unavailable. However, whenever fruit was available from home gardens, and flour and sugar could be had in large enough amounts to make a topping, this dessert was born.
Personally, I think this sounds like a great story, but I would bet that this recipe has been around for a lot longer than just the last sixty years or so, since it is easy to make, and allows for such varied ingredients. There is a difference between crumbles and cobblers, the recipe for the latter existing for at least two or three hundred years, using either sweet or savory ingredients for a filling, and usually involving some sort of biscuit like dough for a topping. Crumbles, by contrast, always use fruit for a filling, and have a topping made of flour, or oats, a small amount of sugar, and butter, creating a crumbly mixture which gives the dessert its name. For our version, we had apples and frozen cherries available, that needed to be eaten. Combining these very simple, yet delicious fruits, creates a wonderful sweet and sour surprise.
Cherry Apple Crumble
- 4 cups frozen dark cherries, stones removed
- 3 large apples
- 1 Tbsp. sucanat
- juice of 2 oranges
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup chestnut flour
- 1 tsp. guar gum
- 3 Tbsp. sucanat
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
To make the crumble, place the cherries into a medium-sized casserole, or baking dish, and toss with 1 Tbsp. sucanat.
Peel, core, and finely chop the apples into bite-sized pieces. Add the apples to the cherry mixture along with the cinnamon, nutmeg and orange juice drizzled over the top, mixing everything together thoroughly. Allow everything to marinate while you prepare the topping.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together, slowly adding small chunks of butter until all of the butter is incorporated, and a mixture, resembling coarse crumbs, begins to form.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Evenly spread the topping over the fruit mixture, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
This dessert is best when served slightly warm, either plain, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Try this wonderful dessert for yourself and just wait for the compliments to come your way.