Pear, Cranberry and Vanilla Crumble


Oh, how I love a good crumble. I think they’re pretty much the most comforting and homey desserts in the world. This one pairs soft sweet pears with sparklingly tart cranberries. Real vanilla seeds lace the flavours together, and a generous crunchy topping is “the icing on the cake”! Make it only in the fall and winter, when ripe local pears and fresh cranberries abound. The secret to a fabulous crumble, in my opinion, is the size of the dish you bake it in. A larger area means more crumble in each bite!


¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Seeds of 1 plump vanilla bean, hull reserved for another use
¼ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tablespoon corn starch
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 to 6 medium-sized ripe, but not mushy, eating pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou
3 cups fresh cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter a large shallow baking dish, preferably ceramic. You can prepare this crumble in any 2½-quart casserole or gratin dish, but, as I said, the wider the better. Prepare the crumble topping: combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in a mixing bowl and cut together until the largest pieces are about the size of the oats. Use your fingers to rub the ingredients together until the mixture forms a crumbly dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until needed. The crumble can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the vanilla seeds, sugars, cornstarch and cinnamon. Peel and core the pears and cut them into sixths or eighths. Add the pears and cranberries to the mixing bowl and toss gently to thoroughly coat the fruit. Scatter the fruit mixture in the baking dish, then crumble the oat mixture over the top, distributing it evenly.

3. Bake the crumble for 35 to 45 minutes for a shallow dish, 45 to 55 minutes for a deeper casserole, or until the topping is crisp and golden and the filling can be seen bubbling up through the cracks. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving so people don’t burn their mouths, then serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of Ice Cream . Or dispense with ceremony and eat it with a big spoon straight from the dish while still on the cooling rack, as is my preference