Prized for its simplicity, the fruit crisp or crumble comes together in moments—which is why it is frequently deployed to feed a hungry crowd not willing to wait for something more complicated. A handful of fruit and a few pantry staples yield a dessert as satisfying as pie, without the fiddly nature of pie dough. But that same logic of easy multiplication applies in the opposite way, with division, when you only want to feed yourself. Here’s a crumble recipe with proportions written out for one (very impatient, very hungry) person.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Massage all of the topping ingredients together in a bowl with one hand. Don’t be afraid of it. Crush the butter into the dry ingredients and let it completely come together into homogenous clumps. This takes 2 minutes with one hand, kneading it like you would a stress ball or your aching shoulder.
- Put the bowl in the fridge.
- Prepare the fruit. Don’t be too fussy about it, but consider how bite-sized pieces of raw fruit will be easier to eat, once cooked, than larger pieces. Also: Pieces of the same size will cook more evenly.
- Grease a mug or small deep plate (this works well for the banana) or ramekin or oven-safe cereal bowl, or any small oven-safe container with a bit of butter. Put fruit in the bottom. Pull cold crumble topping from the fridge and sprinkle it on top. Place the dish in the preheated oven. Wait 8 minutes. Your kitchen should start to smell nice. If your oven doesn't have a window, crack the door a bit to check on it; close it quickly. It will probably need another 5 minutes. Take the crisp out when it looks good: bubbly, fragrant, deep brown, toasty, and caramelized. Let it cool while you look for a pint of vanilla ice cream in your over-packed freezer or the tiny tub of creme fraiche you splurged on last week. Let it cool a bit more while you fiddle with the oven to make sure it's turned all the way off. Let it cool a tiny bit longer while you do the dishes maybe, or find a good book to read. The point here is: Don't burn your mouth! But, yes, eat it while it's warm, and with a spoon.
Daniela Galarza is a writer and reporter who covers food, restaurants, cooking, and culture. She used to be a pastry chef. These days she puts her culinary degree to use by making birthday cakes for friends. She lives in New York with her dog Frito.