One of my first memories takes place at a u-pick peach orchard. It’s not super clear but I remember eating peaches that dripped down my arm with my grandpa and that golden, late summer California sunshine. It’s one of my favorite memories with one of my favorite people and one that gets evoked every summer when stone fruit season rolls through. Needless to say, whenever peaches are good I get a nostalgic urge to bake something unfussy that lets the fruit shine.
While I have a deep and undying love for peach pie this crumble suits my desire for juicy baked fruit topped with a crisp, buttery lid minus the process of crimping and chilling and making cutesy cut-out decorations that inevitably happens whenever I bake a pie. This crumble topping is a simple adaptation of the one found on my Rhubarb Crumble but I’ve swapped the almonds for chewy coconut and toasty pecans and fortified the whole thing with a bit of cardamom for a warmth that pairs perfectly with ripe summer peaches. The only adornment this crumble needs is a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream.
SMASH! My trick for clusters of crumble is to smash the mixture firmly into a bowl and refrigerate while you prep the filling. Once the topping has chilled and the filling is ready, I break it up with a fork for big, jagged clumps of crumble.
Best of the Season: It should go without saying, use good fruit here! You don’t have to have perfectly soft, ripe peaches. What you want are fragrant, flavorful stone fruits. Give them a sniff, if they smell peachy odds are they’ll taste peachy. If your peaches are a little firm but have good flavor, that’s totally fine. You want to avoid rock-hard fruit that’s bland. No amount of baking is going to make bland fruit more flavorful.
- Crumble topping:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (4.5oz/128g)
- ½ cup brown sugar (100g)
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (35g)
- ½ cup pecans, chopped (60g)
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup cold unsalted butter cut into cubes (113g)
- 2½ lbs ripe peaches, about 5 peaches (1,100g)
- ¼ cup sugar (25g)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- pinch of kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Start by making the crumble. Combine the flour, brown sugar, coconut, pecans, cardamom, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the cold butter to the bowl and work it onto the dry ingredients using your fingers or a pastry blender (I always use my hands and pinch the butter into the dry mix) until everything is combined and the mixture clumps together when pinched. Smash the mixture into the bowl to compact it and refrigerate while you prepare the peach filling.
- Slice each peach in half and remove the pits. Slice each half into 4 wedges (8 wedges per peach) and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Stir gently to coat the peaches. Scrape the peach mixture into a baking dish that holds at least 2 quarts. Remove the crumble topping from the refrigerator and break into chunks with a fork. Scatter the crumble over the top of the peaches and place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until the fruit becomes soft, releases its juices, and bubbles through the center. If the top browns too quickly before the fruit is done, cover the top loosely with foil. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with ice cream.