Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Peach Raspberry Crisp / Appalachia Waltz

Apple Crisp was my grandmother's specialty. The buttery, shortbread-like topping was beloved by every member of our family, and legendary amongst our friends. Even my chocoholic husband came around after tasting it; over the years, crisps have become his "desert island" dessert.

As much as I'd like to think that crisp-making skills are heritable, I can't bring myself to try to replicate my grandma's version. Unfortunately for posterity, she never followed a written recipe. And naturally, I was too busy drooling over her shoulder in anticipation of the finished product to pay much attention to detail. All I can remember with certainty was that copious amounts of butter were involved. Whatever her secrets may have been, she would prepare crisp after crisp for any of our visits to New York. Her tireless baking was just one of the many ways she would tell us she loved us. I can't help but think of her whenever I make one.

{My Grandma & I circa 1982}
For a musical pairing, here is Mark O'Connor's moving Appalachia Waltz. It captures a sweetness and a sense of deep nostalgia that is utterly American, and profoundly comforting. I thought it would be especially appropriate given the tenth anniversary of September 11th. This version is performed by my partner Kevin and myself.

Peach Rasbperry Crisp
(adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)

4 pounds firm, ripe peaches
1 orange, zested
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons flour
1 pint raspberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 sticks (one half pound) cold, unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If you'd like to go through the trouble of removing the skin from the peaches, you can immerse them in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute, then shock them in ice water. The skins should slide right off when you pinch them. (Personally, I don't mind the skins. They have such a beautiful color; and because they literally hold the peach slices together, they prevent the filling from becoming a complete mush.) Cut the peaches into large wedges.

In a large bowl, combine the peaches, 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour (this depends on how juicy your peaches are; the juicier they are, the more flour you will require to prevent the filling from becoming soupy), 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, the orange zest, and the vanilla. Add the raspberries and toss gently. Pour the filling into any dish that will fit it and the topping.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the butter, the remaining sugars, the salt, and the oats until the mixture crumbles into pea-sized bits. Spread evenly over the peach mixture. Bake for 1 hour and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

{Nothing beats rivulets of melted ice cream}

{Poochini, intrigued}


  1. The photo of your and your grams is adorbs!!! And the dessert looks delish!

    xx Love & Aloha
    Swing by to enter my $100 Shopbop Giftcard Giveaway!

  2. I love peach and raspberry, too.
    What a charming image of you and your grandma.
    This dish looks scrumptious. Must try it next week;-)

  3. You cannot begin to know how much this post moved me. The music -- sweet, sentimental, stirring... The recipe -- classic... And the photo of you & your Grandma -- priceless...

    Thank you so much.

  4. I love that your dog is named Poochini! The peach crisp looks awesome!

  5. oh my! the music was just wonderful and you food posts are always absolutely divine. I love it all

  6. I heard the video and you sound so good! And... this crisp looks SO amazing!!!

  7. Maia- this is truly a delightful blog- everything looks so tempting! And you are so lithe! Playing concertos must be incredible for the metabolism! I am very much looking forward to Salastina's next concert! Cheers :) Leticia