Baked Sunday Mornings: Pear Plum Crisp

I'm back on the regular schedule for Baked Sunday Mornings: today's recipe is a Pear Plum Crisp. And to be honest, I probably wouldn't have tried this recipe if I wasn't part of the Baked Sunday Mornings baking group. I love apple crisp, but somehow the idea of a pear-plum crisp didn't sound all that interesting to me.

The recipe calls for both Bosc and Barlett pears but the supermarket where I stopped to buy fruit only had Barlett and Forelle. The Barlett pears didn't look great, so I went a bit off script and decided to go with Forelle pears only; they're one of my favorite pears for eating out of hand. For the plums, I purchased some vibrant red Satsuma plums from the farmers market. The plums were quite small, however, so I used six plums instead of the "three large" plums specified in the recipe. I peeled, cored, and roughly diced the pears (total weight 750 grams), and combined them with the thinly sliced plums (total weight 450 grams). I added orange and lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, freshly-grated nutmeg, dark brown sugar, and flour, and set the fruit aside. I also added a pinch of salt.

I made the topping by hand, by blending cubed cold butter, flour, rolled oats, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar, until the mixture formed coarse crumbs. (I also added a pinch of salt.) You're supposed to bake this crisp in an 8-inch square pan, but after assessing the amount of fruit and topping that I had, I decided to go with something a little larger. I used an Apilco oval roaster that measures nine inches by twelve inches. I poured the fruit into the dish (including the fruit juice that had pooled at the bottom), and then added the oat topping. Even though I used a larger baking dish, there was enough topping to completely cover all of the fruit.
I could see a little bit of fruit juice bubbling up through the topping when I took the crisp out of the oven. Tom and I first tried the crisp while it was still warm, and there was a lot of thin, bright red fruit juice pooled at the bottom of the roaster dish. The red plums imbued all of the fruit with a beautiful red color. I loved this crisp. The thick topping was crisp and buttery and I loved the tender-yet-not-mushy texture of the pears. The plums completely lost their shape during baking and I think it was difficult to make out the any specific plum flavor. But the plums definitely contributed a tart fruity flavor that was the perfect counterpoint to the pears.

As the crisp sat at room temperature, the juices thickened, although I did bail out quite a bit of excess juice from the bottom of the roaster pan. I kept the leftovers in the fridge and we reheated individual servings in the oven (because we don't own a microwave). The crisp still tasted wonderful over the following days. The recipe says the crisp provides four servings, but I would say my crisp could have reasonably served ten. The topping did become soggy after a day or two in the fridge, but it still tasted great. And as the recipe mentions, vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment.

I'm very glad to have discovered this pear-plum crisp. It never would have occurred to me that pears could hold up so wonderfully in a crisp, or that pairing them with soft, juicy plums would produce something so delicious.

Recipe: "Pear Plum Crisp" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.