This apple and cherry crumble is a refreshingly tart summer dessert with a satisfying topping full of crunch and flavor. Easy to make any day of the week when you have summer fruit to enjoy.
There's nothing better than a cherry pie, especially one made with fresh sour cherries and a splash of bourbon. Perhaps the only thing better is to pair a slice of cherry pie with a cup of steaming hot coffee. The sweet and bitter combo is almost too dreamy.
It's even better (ok, so I lied, it does get better) when you have the chance to pick the sour cherries from your favorite local orchard. Though the season is short! In Vermont, keep an eye out towards the end of June and the beginning of July.
On top of the picking and the inevitable pitting of a dozen pounds of cherries (lucky for me my wife is a cherry pitting pro), I don't always have time to prepare a pie crust as well. And seeing as the last pie I made a couple of weeks ago was a sad mess, I need a pie break. This is when I turn to simple baked fruit desserts such as crisps and crumbles that replicate pies in a lot of ways, but with much less effort.
🥧 Crisps, Crumbles and Cobblers
What's the difference between a crisp and crumble? A crisp is as the name so clearly indicates - crispy. Nuts, oats, and flour typically work to make a topping full of crunch. While a crumble tends to have more of a streusel-like topping with flour, sugar and butter that's broken up (aka crumbled) over the top of the fruit. Almost like tiny pieces of sweet pie crust.
And then there's the cobbler with its fancy biscuit topping. Equally as good, but a little more effort. Check out my peach cobbler recipe if the idea of biscuits and fruit sounds appealing to you. And why wouldn't it? As with any of these dishes, what I love is that you can always swap out the fruit for whatever you prefer.
I use cherries and apples for the fruit in my crumble because I think it keeps things interesting. You get a mix of textures by using two fruits (especially if you leave the apples unpeeled), as opposed to just one. Also, it left me more cherries for making jam, cherry moonshine, cherries in syrup, and even a couple of jars of cherry pie filling. Can you tell that cherries are one of my favorite fruits?
For this apple and cherry crumble you'll need:
- sour cherres (sweet work, too)
- orange juice
- brown and white sugar
- shredded coconut
- almond or vanilla extract
Check out the recipe card below for the specific quantities.
Crumbles, crisps, and cobblers have two distinct steps.
First, you prepare the topping. Combine butter, flour, oats, coconut, salt, and extract in a bowl. Use your hands to work the ingredients together until you have something roughly resembling dough. Then dump this out on a baking sheet and break it up into pieces.
Second, you prepare the fruit. Toss the cherries and apples with sugar, orange juice, and spices and throw it all into your baking dish. Into a 350 degree oven, the topping and fruit go.
For this crumble topping, I took a few steps to ensure maximum crumbliness, as well as a bit of crunch. Soft juicy fruits like cherries can make it tough to keep that topping crunchy by the time it comes out of the oven.
Luckily, this recipe ensures that's not the case thanks to an idea suggested in a recipe from America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook. You bake the topping and fruit separately at first. Then halfway through cooking, put the topping over the fruit. That way, by the time the topping meets the fruit, it's already a bit crispy and won't absorb the fruit's liquid.
The other trick I tried was to add oats to the topping, technically making this an apple cherry crispy crumble. But who's keeping track?
Hint: Keep an eye on the topping in the last few minutes of baking. Mine started to quickly brown in the last few minutes of baking.
📖 Substitutions & Variations
- Sour cherries - if sour isn't your thing, I guess we're not friends. No seriously, just use sweet cherries instead! Try a less tart apple, if you prefer. Up to you, but you could reduce the sugar a little to compensate for the sweetness. On that note, feel free to use another fruit altogether, such as blueberries or raspberries. Just keep the total fruit quantitiy the same.
- Almond extract - Vanilla extract also works, of course. But almond and cherry is another terrific flavor combo. Have neither? Try a small splash of bourbon.
- Gluten free - Simple. Replace the flour with your favorite gluten free blend.
- Individual crumbles - Who doesn't like their own personal dessert? Instead of a large baking dish, use small oven safe dishes and serve everyone their own.
All you need is a square baking dish, a sheet pan, a mixing bowl, and your oven. No rolling pins or mixers are required.
You can store this apple and cherry crumble for about four days in the fridge, but why would you?
🍩 Top tip
Don't just eat this for dessert, it makes a great breakfast when heated up and served with a good splash of milk. Sound weird? Come on, people eat fried dough covered in sugar and icing for breakfast. Mmm donuts.Print