Strawberry Sunken Island Crumble

I honestly had the best intentions of following a recipe (for once in my life).  I even laid out last month's issue of Bon Appetit on my kitchen counter as I got to work, pulling the ingredients and equipment out and preheating the oven.  Then somewhere between hulling three pounds of strawberries and buttering the bottom of the baking dish, I started to get that creative itch and thought to myself, "this would be great with some cinnamon".  From there, it was a slippery slope to another SBK non-recipe dessert creation.  
I should back up a minute to explain what got me into this baking predicament in the first place.  One of my friends at work is very, very pregnant and to celebrate the arrival of her third baby, my department thought a little party was in order.  I knew that I wanted to make something simple (it was only about a million degrees out yesterday) and I wanted to use something that was fresh and in season.  I also didn't want anything super heavy and of course, I wanted to be a little unique.
The only catch is trying to figure out what the heck to call this mound of strawberry deliciousness (calling it a crumble just seemed sort of bland and run of the mill) so I kept calling it Strawberry Sunken Island for no other reason than the juiciness of the strawberries seemed to swallow up some of the crumble, giving the look of a sandy island floating in a sea of fresh strawberry deliciousness.  Not half bad, if you ask me.
I was impressed with the outcome.  When this came out of the oven, the smell of fresh sweet strawberries and crunchy crumble topping overtook my apartment as it wafted in the air and perfumed my place better than any Yankee Candle could.  Baking is not my forte and it always makes me so nervous because I can't taste it before I serve it.  With cooking, everything I serve has been tasted and has my "SBK stamp of approval" before it reaches anyone.  I can keep working with my creations until they are just right.  Baking is just so, "cross your fingers and hope for the best!" and I am just not that sort of cook.  That being said, I will definitely make this again.  It was super easy to make and didn't require too much effort.  I could just see something like this being brought to a picnic or a BBQ or a Forth of July bash.  It practically screamed summer and was a great way to not only celebrate the start of new life, but to welcome the start of a new season and a fantastic summer ahead.

Strawberry Sunken Island Crumble
- 3 lbs strawberries, hulled and sliced in half or quarters (depending on size)
- 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 stick of chilled butter, plus some for the pan
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and stripped of the seeds (you could also just add a couple drops of vanilla extract if you don't have a vanilla bean on hand.)
- A couple pinches of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375.  Place the hulled and cut strawberries into a pie pan.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar with the vanilla bean seeds.  Combine well.  Dust the sugar over the berries and toss lightly with your hands until the berries are well coated in sugar.  In a medium bowl, combine the 2/3 cup sugar with the flour.  Cut the chilled butter into small 1/3 inch cubes and combine them with the flour sugar mixture by using your hands.  Continue combining until the mixture gets moist and crumbly.  Add the hazelnuts, cinnamon and oats and combine with your hands.  Pour the crumble over the berry/sugar mixture until evenly coated.  Bake in the over for about 45 minutes or until the crumble has started to brown.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream when the crumble is still warm or serve it at room temperature.


SAS said...

Sounds delicious! I'll have to work on a GF version :-)

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Yes! If you do, let me know so that you can post it here!

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