In all my years as a cook, I don’t think there is one place that has directed me to so many “keeper” recipes as Orangette, Molly Wizenberg-Choi’s food blog that was a bright star during my early food blogging days. Molly has such a great instinct for recipes that have that something-something while still being adaptable and intuitive. One of those recipes is a plum crumble that has turned into my holy grail of fruit desserts — I’ll really never make another crumble, as I love this one so much.
This plum crumble recipe feels like a chain letter of early food blogging. It originated with Marian Burros, who also wrote another very famous plum recipe. Luisa Weiss of The Wednesday Chef rhapsodized about it and the way the topping becomes like a sweet and spicy cookie. Then Molly picked it up and also loved it, and now I’m sharing it with you. The best recipes are like this — shared by word of mouth — don’t you think?
Why do so many food writers love this very humble, and admittedly plain-looking, crumble? I think it’s because the topping is absolutely spectacular, thanks to one unusual twist: an egg. You create what is essentially a streusel of flour, sugar, and cinnamon, and then pour in a beaten egg. Using your fingers, you squeeze and shape this into little crumbles, which are sprinkled over the fruit. Then you pour a lavish amount of melted butter over the top.
It’s a relatively unusual technique, with the egg, and it produces this crisp topping on the jammy fruit that tastes something like a buttery, chewy-crisp cookie, with nubs and crags and crackles that are delightfully varied. It’s not a beautiful dessert, but it’s one I could eat cold for breakfast every day of my life.
Like Marian Burros’ other famous recipe, the eternal plum torte, this recipe calls for prune plums, which have a fleeting season in fall. I’ve made the recipe many times with more common red or black plums, and I have also swapped in tart cherries.
It’s a treat of a recipe, and I hope you pick up my chain letter here and keep it going with someone else who will love it too.
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