The fruit-and-vegetable people brought us a lot more pears than I’d expected (should’ve read the list more carefully), and I needed to create a simple dessert, so guess what’s the main ingredient this week? I thought about honey roasted pears, pears poached in cheap red wine, baked pears (like baked apples, but maybe with ginger instead of cinnamon). But as long as I was thinking of substituting pears for apples, why not keep it very traditional and just bake pear crisp? You know, like apple crisp, which is somewhat like apple pie, but much easier to make.
A fruit crisp (or crumble, which used to mean something different, but is now pretty much interchangeable) has no lower crust, just a topping that’s thrown together from butter, sugar, and one or more grain products — flour and oats, for example. As it bakes, the fruit softens and the topping bakes till it’s crisp. At least, you hope these things happen, and both at the same time. This recipe is good at making sure they do — if you slice the pears as thin as you can.
Another good thing about this recipe, which makes it both easier and more efficient, is that you get to use melted butter instead of pounding cold butter into the sugar and oats. It’s not just easier, it spreads the butter evenly through the topping, so none of the oat flakes end up drying out instead of crisping. Be sure to use real butter, by the way, because it gives the dish a taste that’s like nothing else.
Even if you don’t like pears, I think you’ll like this. The pear flavor grows very subtle in the baking. Ice cream would be good on this, even in winter. You could also try adding cinnamon or ginger to the topping, or a dash of vanilla (or something stronger) to the melted butter. With any of these extras, or just as is, pear crisp is a comforting dessert for a winter night.
- 4 medium pears
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
- Melt the butter.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir in the sugar (it’ll melt, too) and oatmeal.
- Peel the pears and slice them as thin as you can.
- Butter an 8’ round pie pan.
- Arrange the pear slices in the pan.
- Cover them with the butter-sugar-oatmeal mixture.
- Bake at 350℉ for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.