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What is a Fruit Crisp?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A fruit crisp is a baked fruit dessert with a sweet, crunchy topping. Fruit crisp is one of the easiest fruit desserts to make, and it can be as elegant or as simple as the cook desires. Unlike other baked desserts, fruit crisp does not require extensive knowledge of chemistry, meaning that beginning bakers and people who are just learning how to cook can make fruit crisp successfully. The recipe is also endlessly reconfigurable, so it should become difficult to get bored with fruit crisp.

The base of a fruit crisp is, of course, the fruit. Seasonally fresh fruit will taste the best, making fruit crisp more suitable for the summer months, although preserved fruit could be used in a pinch. Since fruit crisp is briefly browned in the oven, dense fruits like apples will need to be pre-cooked so that they are soft. A topping is made by blending flour, sugar, and butter with spices, and drizzling the mixture over the fruit before baking.

The recipe is closely related to that for a cobbler, only a cobbler uses a doughy mixture which is dropped on top in spoonfuls. The dough puffs up and expands during the baking process, while fruit juices slowly bubble up from underneath. The result is that cobbler is somewhat denser and richer, although both crisps and cobblers pair well with things like ice cream, custard, and whipped cream.

To make a fruit crisp, mix together two cups of flour, one cup brown sugar, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. For the gluten intolerant, try mixing several gluten free flours like sorghum, rice, and teff together. Exotic spices like cardamom can also be used, and for added texture ingredients such as rolled oats and nuts may be added as well. Blend in one and one half cups of melted butter, stirring so that the mixture gets grainy and chunky, and set aside.

Butter a medium sized glass or enamel baking dish, and layer in peeled and chopped fruits and or berries, tossed with lemon juice and sugar to taste. Peaches and blueberries make an excellent pairing, as do pears and raspberries. Cooks can also make a twist on the classic strawberry rhubarb pie by turning it into a crisp instead. Spoon the flour mixture on top, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for 20-30 minutes, until the crisp on top is golden down and bubbling with fruit juices. Allow to cool briefly before serving.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Ivan83 — On Apr 20, 2012

I grew up in Georgia and my mother used to make fruit crisp with the fresh peaches we harvested off of our own trees. It remains the richest, creamiest most delicious dessert I have ever had. The fresh peaches are key.

Unfortunately I no longer live in Georgia and it is impossible to get peaches that good in Minnesota

By whiteplane — On Apr 19, 2012

I love fruit crisp but I have recently switched to a gluten free diet and am realizing that my favorite dessert might be off the table. Does anyone know how to make a gluten free fruit crisp?

By summing — On Apr 18, 2012

I have a recipe for a healthy fruit crisp that I make all the time. It is mostly fruit and only uses a little bit of crumb filling so it is not as bad for you as most desserts.

If you eat it while it is still warm with a little bit of vanilla ice cream you would not even know that it is low fat.

By OceanSwimmer — On Nov 13, 2010

Fruit crisp is particularly delicious with vanilla ice cream.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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