In the main, I don’t care for cooked strawberries except in jam; I think they can lose their magic flavor, color, and texture—their soul. But that doesn’t happen with this crisp. It’s terrific, comforting, homey, and intensely strawberry, as well as buttery and rich, with lots of different textures. You might add minced crystallized ginger to the strawberries, and you might also make a double batch of Strawberry Whipped Cream for a topping.
Yield: Serves 8
3 pints small ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
2½ cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped hazelnuts
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla paste or vanilla extract
STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Have ready an 8-inch square glass baking dish.
STEP 2: Toss together the strawberries, 1 cup of the bread crumbs, ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar, the zest, and salt in a large bowl. Transfer to the baking dish. Toss the remaining 1½ cups bread crumbs with the hazelnuts, butter, and granulated sugar in a medium bowl, and sprinkle evenly over the berries.
STEP 3: Bake for 40 minutes, until the berries are bubbling and the topping is browned. Let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
STEP 4: Just before serving, beat the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large deep bowl just until it begins to thicken. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and beat just until the cream forms soft peaks when the beaters are lifted.
STEP 5: Serve the crisp warm with the cream.
To make fresh bread crumbs, toss torn pieces of firm white bread or white sourdough into a food processor and pulse until you have coarse crumbs.