Oatmeal is not the stuff of summer breakfasts.
Autumn breakfasts, yes. Winter breakfasts, absolutely. Even spring breakfasts, during that period when it's still chilly in the mornings and those piles of grey snow haven't quite melted away. But summer breakfasts are the domain of of Greek yogurt with honey, of plates of fresh raspberries, and of plums nicked from the icebox. Summer breakfasts should be light and cold and refreshing. Which makes the idea of sitting down to a bowl of oatmeal on a summer morning absurd, if not downright wrong.
Well, not exactly. You see, my summer desserts revolve around fruit, either poached or baked with some sort of topping. And as I've mentioned before, I have a fondness for desserts that do double-duty as breakfast. In that category, crumble is one of my favorites.
Americans call it a crisp, and it's similiar to cobbler, but crumble is a British dessert, and a product of World War II cookery. It's a very simple dessert: you cut up fresh fruit, mix it with a little sugar and seasoning, and put it in a baking dish. Then you mix up a topping, spread it over the top, and pop it in the oven. Ingredients for the topping vary. At its most basic, it's a mixture of flour, sugar, and butter or margarine, but you can also use nuts, crushed cookies, or rolled oats. Which brings us to oatmeal.
A mixture of quick-cook rolled oats, butter, and sugar goes crisp on top, but turns soft and almost pudding-like on the bottom. As a dessert, crumble can be served warm with ice-cream, but the leftovers make for a most agreeable summer breakfast the next morning.
And if you're like me, it'll make you think about rewriting famous poems. "I have eaten the crumble that was in the icebox," anyone?
Peach and Blueberry Crumble
To make this vegan, replace the butter with margarine or Earth Balance. Flaked almonds are also a nice addition. At the very end of summer I make this with apples and raspberries, but right now, peaches and blueberries are at their best.
(Serves one, with leftovers for breakfast.)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Take a large ripe peach, peel it, and cut it into rough dice. Put the dice in a shallow baking dish. Add a large handful of blueberries (two if you have small hands). Add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, few drops of vanilla extract, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Reach in with your hands and give everything a stir. Set aside.
To make the crumble topping, get out a mixing bowl and combine one cup of quick-cook rolled oats with three tablespoons of brown sugar, a sprinkling of cinnamon, a sprinkling of nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Cut in half a stick of chilled butter. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it forms clumps.
Top the fruit with the crumble mixture. Pat it down gently, but don't pack. (If you'd like a crunchier topping, or you have a super-sweet tooth, you can sprinkle the topping with additional brown sugar at this point.) Transfer the dish to the oven.
Bake for thirty-five to forty minutes, or until the fruit bubbles around the edges and the topping is a nice toasty golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for fifteen to twenty minutes. Serve warm. Greek yogurt or ice-cream is a nice accompaniment.