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Gluten Free Peach Blueberry Crisp
Alternative baking for yourself, or to share...
You would have a hard time convincing me that peaches and blueberries don’t ripen nearly simultaneously because they taste so good together. Sure, peach pie and blueberry pie each have soft spots in my heart – but blueberry and peach in the same pie? That is probably the best pie combination ever set between two flaky, well browned crusts…

Even though I may be thinking of pie, not long ago during the onset of rhubarb season I spent a few baking hours tackling relatively healthy, gluten-free rhubarb crisps. It turned out that alternative flours tend to be a little crunchy all on their own before any help from butter or oven heat, and I was very happy with my results. To confess, I’m not all that hard to please because I love all fruit desserts and tend to think that if baked into an old-fashioned crumble or crisp, they can only improve. My only real problem is that I am usually the sole eater of these types of desserts in my house. I comfort myself by baking them up infrequently, and then when I do, I try not to make a family sized dessert that I will feel guilty about after I’ve finished eating the pan in its entirety.

But how can you feel guilty over peaches?

Last week a neighbor returned a borrowed jar to me nestled in a basket with just over five pounds of super sweet and perfectly ripe Georgia peaches. This act of generosity turned into just over four jars of peach jam, a handful of fresh eating, and enough left over for me to bake myself a happy little crisp to remind me of the kindness of others. Since it was all for me, I made it small, using just three peaches and a rounded half cup of blueberries. I mixed up an ample amount of crisp (since let’s face it, I am a girl who likes a lot of crispy topping on my fruit desserts), I was judicious in my use of sugar, and I added my secret flavor weapon that I like equally well with both blueberry and peach: lime.

Lime cuts through the sweetness of the peach and enhances the blueness of a blueberry. Its tart nature does something for me that lemon never can. I never could quite articulate why I usually prefer it to lemon, but I do and I usually have quite a few on hand and at my disposal. I used both the zest and juice of lime to help this crisp along, and let it mingle in the fridge with the fruit for a few hours before baking to let it coax some juices from the fruit. The result is a very fine, gluten-free crisp indeed – but feel free to substitute a regular crisp topping (such as this one) for the alternative flours if you like.

 

This amount of crisp is pretty substantial on top of the small amount of fruit. If you like less crisp topping, don't be afraid to freeze the extra. You can whip up another crisp (or use it as a topping on muffins just prior to baking), and you don't even need to defrost it first!

Gluten-Free Peach-Blueberry Crisp
yield 3-4 servings

Filling:
3 peaches, skinned and sliced (see note below)
1/2 c. blueberries
1/2 of a lime, zest and juice
1 T. brown sugar
pinch of salt

Crisp Topping:
4 T. cold butter, cut into small pieces
40 g. (1/4 c.) almond meal
40 g. (1/3 c) amaranth flour (see note below)
50 g. (1/4 c.) brown sugar
35 g. (1/3 c.) rolled oats
a good handful (1/2 c. or so) walnuts
pinch of salt 
pinch of cinnamon, optional

Mix all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate for a few hours until ready to bake. You probably wouldn't need to do this, but it does draw out some of the fruit juices and lets the flavors mingle.

When ready to continue, preheat oven to 350, and butter a small casserole or other ovenproof dish of appropriate size. Transfer the fruit into the buttered dish.  (I thought about baking in half pint canning jars. That would be nice for portioned, and packable, desserts!)

Place the almond meal, amaranth flour, and brown sugar into a food processor (or if working by hand, mix in a small bowl). Pulse (or blend with a fork) to combine, then add butter and pulse several times until it is incorporated in even, pea-sized pieces. (If working by hand, use forks or your fingertips to work the butter in.) Add the rolled oats, walnuts and a pinch of salt to taste (and optional cinnamon), toss to mix well, and spread evenly over the top of the fruit.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the top is nicely browned. Serve hot, room temperature or cold from the refrigerator, preferably with vanilla ice cream.

Notes: You can make amaranth flour from whole grain amaranth by taking it for a spin in a coffee grinder or spice mill. It doesn't make it completely smooth like a purchased flour would be, but it is close enough for use in a crisp topping.  

To easily "skin a peach," bring a pot of water to a boil and drop whole peaches in for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the peaches using a slotted spoon to a bowl filled with ice and cold water. Submerge the peaches for at least a minute, and then the peels should slip right off.

 
Gluten free baking isn’t something I have to do for my own diet, but it is something I enjoy playing with, and alternative grains do have a wonderful flavor worth exploring. Working with crumbly things like crisps is a good match for odd, non-traditional flours, since gluten is what makes dough elasticized and structured and crisps do better without that structure. I've only tried a gluten-free pie crust once, and wasn't too pleased with the result, but fortunately I now know how easy it is to create gluten-free crisp toppings. The remainder of my summer will see trials for all kinds of fruit innovations since nearly any filling imaginable can easily be transformed into small but lovely fruit crisps.  And I don't mind at all being the only one to eat them.




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