It’s Still Cool, So I Baked a Cornmeal Crisp–and You Should,Too

The topping is unusual, crunchy, and great on whatever fruit you’ve got.

crisp-pic-412x550Now that the heatwave has finally broken I’m happy to turn my oven on. It was ten days of cucumber soup but with today’s high under eighty, I’m back to cooking with gas.crisp pic

First up: berry crisp, with a cornmeal topping I’ve been turning to for years.

The recipe is by the almighty David Lebovitz, who was pastry chef at Chez Panisse for years and now lives in Paris. And in case that doesn’t make you jealous enough—when I met him at a booksigning at the Union Square Greenmarket years ago, he told me that yes, David Sedaris is his movie buddy.

While I can’t live out that fantasy, cooking my way through Lebovitz’s books makes me just as happy. I swear by his ice cream bible and have made almost every single recipe in his killer Ripe For Dessert, which stars fruit and is the only book you will ever need for making market-driven sweets.

I’ve fired up the ovens for his yeasted plum tart, blackberry brown-butter financiers and peach semifreddo time and again, but the single Ripe recipe I’ve likely made the most is cornmeal crisp topping, which contains 2/3 cup cornmeal (I like medium ground). I’ve found the trick is to keep my food processor running for a good 45 seconds, until the topping is no longer powdery, but rather comes together like a cookie dough, which I crumble over whatever fruit is in season, from rhubarb to pears. I especially love it over apples at Thanksgiving, when it just feels right to use cornmeal in everything.

Today my base was two cups of strawbs and bluebs, plus 3 white peaches from my CSA, all tossed with 1/3 cup sugar, 2T flour and a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness. But the topping is wonderful with any fruit, not to mention eaten raw out of the food processor.

Just make it soon, before the can’t-stand-it heat drives you back out of the kitchen.

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Gabrielle Langholtz is the former editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan.