Foodie Files: Summer Berry Cornmeal Crisp

A few weeks ago I took my nephew on a berry picking adventure to Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm LLC to pick blue berries. Two of my friends came along and at the end we had 1 1/2 gallons of blue berries. Ro didn’t want any so Dela Mae & I split the cost and the haul. I brought the berries how and it was evident I would be the only one eating them despite assurances from mother, sister and nephew that they liked blued berries and will eat them. To keep them from going to waste I put about 6 cups in the freezer intending to make a berry crostada when i acquired some other summer berries. We then had some hellaciously hot weather that nixed any thought of turning the oven on and I really wasn’t in the mood to make pastry dough. Yes I could by it but I love good pastry and the store-bought stuff usually lacks flavor, flake or both. I still wanted to make some sort baked berry concoction when I came across an article in Edible Brooklyn extolling the virtues of a Cornmeal Crisp from David Lebovitz former pastry chef from Chez Panisse. I read the article and followed the link from to David’s page and decided the next day I was going to use those blue berries and well as some strawberries I had frozen so they didn’t end up in the rubbish heap. I had also bought some black berries earlier to nibble on but decided that most would make it into the Summer Berry Crisp I was making.

Summer Berry Crisp

Summer Berry Crisp

Here’s the thing I am a good (my friends say great) cook but not so much as a baker. Cooking is an art so can putz around with the ingredients, take something out, add something else, change the meat whatever you feel like doing and you will end up with a tasty dish. Baking however is more science, mess around with the proportions and you’ll end up with a lumpen log instead of a light cake, a messy crumble instead of a chewy cookie. One must understand how the ingredients work together and where you can and cannot substitute so this cornmeal crisp recipe made me happy. All you had to do was measure, whizz in the food processor and turn onto the mixed berry mixture and place into the oven. In less than an hour you can have hot bubbly goodness to pair with vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream or by itself.

You can play with the fruit mixture, make it all berries, or all stone fruit, or a mix of berries and stone fruit. The limit is what you like and what you have on hand at the time. Next time I’ll see about making this using only stone fruit and then a mixture of berries and stone fruit. I do believe this will come back at Thanksgiving with an apple mixture perhaps with some currents ( I love dried currents).


Preheat oven to 375 F (I’ve to check this)
Berry Mixture
4 cups blue berries
2 cups hulled and cut strawberries (I’d use more next time)
2 cups black berries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbls flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Juice and zest of 2 small lemons (this might be overload but I think the slight tartness is good).
*I like to mix everything together and let it sit for half hour or so but you don’t have to.

Directly from David’s website Polenta Crisp Topping Polenta & Cornmeal is the same thing.

3/4 cup (105 g) flour
2/3 cup (90 g) coarse polenta
3/4 cup (80 g) almonds or walnuts
1/2 cup (90 g) packed light or dark brown sugar (or cassonade)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
nice pinch of salt
4 ounces (1 stick, 115 g) unsalted butter, well-chilled
In a blender or food processor, pulse the flour, polenta, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until the nuts are in smaller pieces.

Cut the butter into chunks and pulse in the machine until the butter is finely broken up and the mixture no longer looks sandy and is starting to stick and clump together.

Distribute crisp topping over prepared fruit and bake until fruit is bubbling and cooked underneath, and the topping is deep-golden brown. (Plunge a sharp paring knife in the fruit to feel if it’s cooked through.)

Note: You can store the mixture in a zip-top freezer bag for a month or two, or refrigerate it for up to one week.

Let me know if you decide to make this crisp and share what your results were like. Or if you have another
simple recipe using summer fruit send it my way. I’m always looking for something new to try.

Lady Littlefoot

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