Fruit Crumbles are a tasty addition to a Mabon celebration. It is also nice that everything goes into one dish and there are no fiddly bits that need extra care and attention like the red pepper spiral on this black bean and coconut rice dish. This crumble contains apples, oats, and hazelnuts, all traditional Mabon foods and around here it is also pear harvest time.
Many years ago, the Eastern Filbert Blight, a disastrous fungus for hazelnut trees arrived in the Pacific Northwest and 90% of the local trees were destroyed. It is an added bonus to have local hazelnuts again for special seasonal dishes.
One of the themes of Mabon is preservation; the canning, freezing, salting, drying and dehydrating ( I am sure I missed something) of foods for the coming barer times of the year. It is always nice to be able to pull something off the shelves and so the addition of the pear mincemeat honours that theme in this recipe.
1/3 cup oat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1/4 cup butter
3/4 – 1 cup pear mincemeat
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour (optional)
Being appreciative for all that we are blessed with is always a good place to start. Recognizing that there is no guarantee of the future but here and now we can celebrate the bounty of the season. Take the moment and stop. Be present as you open your heart and genuinely offer thanks. It may take a couple of deep breaths to really feel the shift and it may take longer but coming from an open heart is the best place to begin.
Grease a 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then put the topping together.
Ground hazelnuts can be created by placing the raw shelled nuts on a tray and baking at 350 degrees F until the skins crackle and split. Transfer the nuts to a clean tea towel and rub until as much comes off as possible. It is not necessary for the nuts to have no skins on them, just that everything loose has been rubbed off. Process in the same blender, pulsing until properly chopped but not letting the nuts get hot again.
Combine the oat flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and ground hazelnuts in a medium bowl.
Your hands will get stickier chopping the pears so I suggest pealing and chopping the apples first and the pears last. Your hands will thank you.
Also if you have extra fruit that needs to be used, there is nothing wrong with adding them to the mix. Your container of choice can be full as the fruit will reduce as it cooks. The only thing to look out for is overflow of the juices if the container is over full, maybe a cookie tray underneath if the volume gets adjusted?
This is a great time to explore new seasonal varieties and to adapt the dice size as needed. We are familiar with the standard apples of the area but at a farmer’s market there will be different options and they will have differing levels of sweetness once cooked and they will all cook a little differently, some holding their shapes while others fall apart.
If for example, you have chosen soft ripe pears, and not so ripe apples, the apple dice should be smaller than the pears as the pears will cook more quickly. Another example would be if you are using an especially tart apple. It will probably be firmer and need more time to soften while baking, if the pear dice is a little larger it will be closer to the cook time the apples need.
Add the pear mincemeat to the chopped fruit and stir to combine. Mincemeat has lots of flavour. It will cut through the sweetness of the fruit. There is flexibility in the amount added as fruit comes in various sizes and the total volume of chopped fruit will vary. It is technically optional but adding the mincemeat does make a statement about the dessert being something different. Additionally when adding the mincemeat, there is no need to add additional spices to the streusel topping.
Adding flour to the fruit is also optional. The purpose of adding the thickener is to help the fruit juice be more of a sauce. The reason that I am saying it is an option is that the father of a friend of mine has always held the belief that the flavour of the fruit is less intense when a thickener is added. When making pies having the extra juice can be a problem with the bottom layer of pastry but in a crumble there is more freedom to experiment.
Transfer to the baking form and top with the hazelnut crumble. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes depending on the size of the dice and varieties of fruit used. When a knife goes through the fruit easily, it is ready. Flour was not used in the dish below and the juice can be seen in the bowl.
This is my Mabon variation. It switches out 1 apple and 1 pear with 2 President plums (think large Italian prune plums). In this case I did add the flour and all that liquid thickened and made the fruit glossy. The plums add a tang to the finished dish.
President plums generally ripen later then Italian prune plums but if they are still available in your area five of the smaller variety should do the job.