Each summer, it is with great excitement that I await blueberry season. My neighbors, a local farm family, grow the sweetest, plumpest blueberries in all the land – or at least in all the land that I frequent – and sell them from a patio table set up in their front yard. They are abundant, inexpensive at the height of their season, and I scoff up every single pint they place on their table; freezing some for future use, eating many – perhaps too many, if there can be such a thing – out of hand, and crafting this tasty morsel here. During blueberry season, this Crumble travels with me to whatever home I am a guest in, and almost without fail, the hosts ask to keep the remainder when I leave. I am only too happy to oblige, for I have 8 more pints at home and know that 4 more will be on the patio table in the morning. But at least I seem generous.
And this dish seems rich. But it is, in fact, a great frugal treat, as our grandmothers knew all too well as they baked their fresh fruit pies. It doesn’t matter the money put into it, so long as the fruit is fresh. And so do feel free to improvise with your favorite summer and fall fruits. Cherries? Peaches? Plums? The choice is yours. Just substitute the same amount of fruit for the blueberries and wow them at your next dinner party.
2 pints blueberries, rinsed and picked over for under- and over-ripe berries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
The zest and juice of one lemon
pinch of kosher salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie pan. A good thrifty way to do this is to use the wrapper from the stick of butter you melted. Just allow it to soften, and grease away.
Combine the blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, mixing until all a moist crumb is formed.
Transfer blueberry mixture to the pie pan. Top with the crumb mixture, covering the mass of berry goodness.
Line a 9-by-13 inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil so as to avoid dripping gooey blueberry all over the bottom of your oven during the baking portion of this exercise.
Bake until the streusel is a golden brown and the blueberry mixture is bubbling, 55 minutes to 1 hour. If the top is browning too quickly and there is no bubbling to be seen, cover loosely with foil until done. Let cool for 15 minutes and then serve with Vanilla Ice Cream (page 000). Or with whipped cream.
When you do serve it forth, be certain to – discretely, now - bask in the glow of your dinner hosts’ appreciation. Leave them the leftovers. But be sure you have another pie dish at home, for you’ll be needing to make another crumble tomorrow.
Estimated cost for one crumble. $7.54. The blueberries are $2.50 per pint. We are using 2 pints, so that’s $5.00. Remember we make this during blueberry season, which is early to mid-summer. The sugar costs 19-cents per cup. The flour is barely a blip on our budgetary radar, but we shall call it 6-cents just the same. The cinnamon for the entire recipe is approximately 20-cents. The lemon costs us 50-cents. Moving on to the crumb topping, the flour costs 30-cents, the sugar around 5-cents as we round up here, the brown sugar 24-cents. The butter runs us around 90-cents, and the vanilla extract, we’ll call 10-cents.