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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cherry Crumble

I think most people would agree that Summer conjures up fond memories of vacations, camping, outdoor activities, and hours spent in the sunshine (well, after the month of June in Seattle).  When summer is upon me, I think of all of these things followed by, "When are peaches in season?"

Peaches are my favorite fruit and I have to wait until the end of summer to have them.  This would be a tragedy... if cherries and raspberries didn't exist.  

I am fortunate to live in the state of Washington.  We have a very temperate climate on the western side of the state, contrasted by starker extremes east of the Cascades.  Washington leads in sweet cherry production (1) and grows about 40% of the nation's crop (2) - the majority produced in the eastern side of the state.  Yakima Valley, Wenatchee, and Columbia Basin apparently have particularly ideal conditions, and after June you can see small, improvised canopies and card tables stacked with boxes full of bright red, dark purplish red, and yellow cherries dotting the roadsides boasting Bing, Rainier, and the generic "Sweet" cherries, even in Western Washington.  Quite simply: we're spoiled.

My in-laws were in town about a month ago and we had a surplus of cherries in the house.  Eight pounds is too much for even five people.  Even with my high fiber tolerance, there exists too much of a good thing and cooking seems (to me anyway) to lessen the effect that stone fruit can have on the stomach.  Drying the fruit, of course, amplifies it, so I decided to make a cooked dessert with the cherries and add in some apples so we didn't waste any of those beautiful cherries.  And because we were entertaining a household of people from out-of-town, it had to be something I could do quickly.  Well, fairly quickly.  Let's be honest, if you don't have a cherry pitter, you're in for some manual labor.  Fortunately, my mother-in-law is a doll and was quick to volunteer to prep fruit while I worked on dinner.

The sign of a successful dessert is that people enjoy it regardless of what "normal" ingredients are missing.  I tend not to tell people that something I cook is vegan, gluten-free, or "different" to see the reactions I get.  I'm not sadistic.  I'm just really looking for honest opinions.  I've seen people bite back comments because they thought it wasn't possible to have "normal" flavors when they knew something was gluten free.  We had about twelve "normal diet" people over for a feast, and this cobbler was the star of the show.  In fact, I wasn't allowed to the July 4th picnic without bringing a generous amount of crumble.

This dessert lives up to its crumbles!

Cherry Apple Crumble
Serves 8 hungry people
2 pounds of Sweet Cherries, whole, or 4.5 cups loosely packed pitted Sweet Cherries
2 Apples, peeled and cut to 1/2" cubes
1 Vanilla bean, scraped
2 T Tapioca Flour 
1 c Turbinado Sugar, split evenly
1/4 c Water
3/4 c Millet Flour
3/4 c Teff Flour
1/3-1/2 c Palm Oil
1/2 t Cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Put the cherries and apples in a large bowl and pour in 1/2 cup of sugar.  Stir until the sugar is distributed evenly.  Mix the vanilla bean and tapioca flour in a separate small bowl and then add 1/4 cup of water.  Stir until well combined.  Pour the tapioca mix over the top of the fruit and stir to coat the fruit evenly.  Pour the mixture into an 8X12 baking pan.

I reuse the fruit bowl and add the millet, teff, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir and then add the palm oil.  Start with 1/3 of a cup.  Use either a pastry cutter or fork to combine the palm oil.  It should start to stick together in small chunks, about the size of small gravel.  If you pinch the flour combination together and it isn't sticking together, there isn't enough oil, but it should be loose until you pinch it.  The dough shouldn't stick together like pie crust in large clumps - that means there's too much moisture.  The mixture should resemble a streusel.

Spread the flour mixture evenly over the top of the berries.  Put in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla coconut ice cream or plain.

You could substitute with other types of sugar, but I like the added crunch that turbinado gives.  I have also switched the millet or teff out for brown rice flour.  They both work equally well. I prefer the Rainier variety of cherries, but any sweet variety will do.


1.   Boris, Hayley and Henrich Brunke and Marcia Kreith.  Cherry Profile. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.  March 2006. <>

2.  Smith, Timothy and Dr. Eugene Kupferman.  Crop Profile for Cherries (Sweet) in Washington.  December 2002.  Web March 2003.  <>


  1. The cherries are so fantastic right now. Putting them in a crumble with apples sounds like the perfect warm summer evening dessert.

  2. oh my gosh that looks so wonderful! i love cherries!!

  3. Weird that last summer we went through such a berry pie/crumble phase, and this summer - not a one! Okay, there's still a little time left!