On a Sunday afternoon after my weekly farmers market trip, I found myself with two pounds of seasonal stone fruits and no idea how to consume it all. The supplier of this fruit bounty was the Burkdoll Farm stand at the Goleta farmers market. Their farm is located in Visalia, California, and has been proudly family-owned since 1858. At their stand, you’ll find tens of red buckets filled with seasonal fruit; in the fall, expect to find grape varieties, massive pomegranates and at least three varieties of plums and specialty fruit like pineapple guava. Shoppers can mix and match fruit, paying by total weight at the end of the line where homemade jams are also sold.
While I’m sometimes on dessert duty for Thanksgiving, I must confess, I’ve never made a pie from scratch. There’s so much at stake when making a pie: a crust that’s not too thin yet still buttery and flakey, a perfect ratio of fruit filling, the pressure to create beautiful latticework and much more. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but opting for fruit crumble rather than pie takes a lot of the pressure off whoever’s baking. Even if it’s assembled messily, this persimmon and plum crumble is a very forgiving dessert and still produces excellent flavors no matter what the end result looks like.
For the fruit filling:
- 3 cups chopped plums and persimmons. I recommend using Fuyu persimmons as they have a harder, apple-like texture that softens slightly while baking and don’t take weeks to ripen like the Hachiya variety.
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the crumb topping:
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 a stick of butter, softened and cubed. I made this recipe with Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter and it worked just as well.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Chop the plums and persimmons into two-inch pieces and place them in a large bowl.
- Add lemon juice, red wine vinegar, cinnamon and sugar into the bowl and mix gently.
- Next, assemble the crumb topping by mixing together the flour, sugar and baking powder first.
- Using your hands, gently mix in the butter pieces until clumps form from the mixture.
- Prepare a pie pan by greasing it with butter or cooking spray.
- Pour in the fruit and spread evenly across the pan, leaving room at the top for the crumb topping.
- Spread the crumb topping evenly over the fruit. It’s okay if some of it gets into the fruit mixture.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crumb topping is golden brown and the fruit mixture begins to bubble slightly.
- Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream!
Persimmon is an unconventional choice of fruit to base a dessert around, but what’s wrong with a little experimentation? Every family has its own holiday traditions and signature dishes that make an appearance at celebrations, and I’m hoping to make this dessert into a recurring tradition for my family. Perhaps this fruit crumble will be so good it will successfully sidetrack the uncomfortable conversations unfurling at the table — but then again, this is just a recipe, and I don’t want to make any false promises.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the November 17, 2022 version of the Daily Nexus.