On Saturday, Jon picked up a bag of cherries only to realize upon returning home that we already had a bag of cherries in the refrigerator. Then it started to rain, putting a damper on our planned trip to the pool. So, what do you do when you have a zillion cherries and two antsy kids? You make cherry crisp, natch.
Crisps are simple to prepare and most of the ingredients are pantry staples, making them a wonderful choice for an impromptu baking session with the kids. I love that my kids love to cook. I love that my husband loves to cook (this whole endeavor was his idea). I love that the result of our work leaves the house smelling delicious. I try to remember that cherry-stained countertops and floury footprints are just part of the deal.
We divided the workload. Jon pitted the cherries, with “assistance” from the kids (their assisting mostly involves eating cherries judging by their fruit-stained chins). Every summer I’m flummoxed by the annual revelation that we don’t own a cherry pitter (a gross over site, indeed). Regardless, Jon managed to make quick work of the project using the wine-bottle-and-chopstick hack.
Meanwhile, I worked on the crisp topping. I’m quite fond of the crisp topping from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food, but I prefer my crisp with some oats. So I sub them in for part of the flour. And I use whole wheat flour. It works well with the oats and makes the whole thing feel a bit more substantial. I thought for sure that Lilly would love mixing in the butter with her hands, but she didn’t appreciate the idea of getting her hands dirty. She changed her mind when it came time to “taste” the topping. I had two very enthusiastic volunteers for that part.
The crisp went into the oven and the family retreated to the basement for puzzles and dancing and general mayhem. Our cherry problem was solved, the crisp was devoured that evening and we finally made it to the pool on Sunday. And all was right with the world.
Cherry Oatmeal Crisp
Makes an 8×8 pan (about 8 servings)
2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
2/3 cup walnuts
3/4 cup whole oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss cherries with sugar and 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour. Pour mixture into an 8×8 (or 2 quart) ceramic baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, combine nuts, oats, flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add in butter and use your fingers to work mixture together until it has a crumbly texture and no chunks of butter remain.
- Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit in baking dish. Place dish in oven and bake for 45 – 55 minutes, until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown (rotate pan if necessary for even browning). Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.