While I love being in pastry school and learning more about baking soda than I ever thought I could, there are times when I want to make something messy and ugly. Almost always, I strive to make my food pretty, appetizing, and a little bit refined. I like doing that. But doing that for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week makes me want to do the opposite.
I guess this is my way of "rebelling". I was never a rebellious kid and I doubt I ever will be, so this is as close as I'm gonna get. I like going by the book and following rules. Rules are there for a reason, and I like order and organization. Can you see why pastry is a pretty good fit for me?
I don't go out to clubs or bars. I don't really drink and I certainly don't do drugs. I dress kind of boring (t-shirts and jeans are my staple). I love to read National Geographic. Not very rebellious is what I'm trying to get at here.
"A messy dessert? That's about as rebellious as Spock" is what you're probably thinking here, but bear with me here. How much time do you spend trying to make your desserts look nice and presentable? I spent a fair amount, especially when I have to photograph it and show it to the world. What I make is a reflection of myself and therefore, I spend time making my desserts look nice. I put a fair bit of effort into them. And now that I have to try even harder for school, I'm starting to tweak out a bit.
So, for once, I'm not making the final product look pretty. I'm just going to throw things together and hope for the best (this is because I forgot my scale at school). I'm not going to measure how much I put into the ramekins, just eyeball it. I'm not even going to use uniformly sized ramekins. I'm just going to pack that crumble on top. This is my rebellious side.
I put the ramekins into the oven, feeling smugly satisfied with myself at my lack of precision, like somehow I showed them. Whoever "them" is...
About halfway through, I took a peek at my perfectly imperfect dessert. Bubbling over the sides, crumble not even, not pretty. My mind did a complete 180 and I immediately regretted my decision to not make it look pretty. What was I thinking? How am I going to photograph this monstrosity and make it look good?
Eventually, my 'rebellious' attitude returned. Looking good doesn't always equal tasting good and tasting good doesn't always mean looking good. Why not put something messy and misshapen on my blog, as long as it tastes great? I'm not some food magazine editor or professional blogger. I'm just a girl with a tiny kitchen and a camera. I can put whatever I damn well please on my blog. And while these might be ugly, they're tasty. And at the end of the day, if it's tasty and you don't work in a restaurant, presentation can take the back seat.
Recipe from Dahlia Bakery
Pecan Oat Crisp
2/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup lightly toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons (85 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice
5 medium (794 g/ 1 3/4 pounds) nectarines, or peaches
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/8 inch dice
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the crisp topping, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, toasted pecans, and flour in a bowl. Add the diced butter and blend with a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers until crumbly. Set aside.
Cut the nectarines in half, remove the pits, and then slice them 1/4 inch thick. You should have about 4 cups sliced nectarines. Put the nectarines, blueberries, sugar, butter, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use a paring knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla bean scrapings to the bowl. Sift the flour and the cornstarch into the bowl and gently combine all the ingredients using a rubber spatula.
You can either put the whole crisp in one 9-inch pie pan or multiple ramekins. Evenly distribute the crumble all over the top. Put the pie plate or ramekins on a baking sheet to catch any drips and place it in the oven. Bake until the fruit is cooked and bubbling and the topping is golden, 50 to 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool briefly on a wire rack. Serve while the crisp is still warm.