Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

A super-simple fruit crisp recipe made with rolled oats, pecans, and maple-syrup that’s naturally gluten-free and kissed with the zing of fresh ginger. Adapted from Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Seneviratne

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

This recipe comes from a beautiful new book by one of my favorite authors Sam Seneviratne. Sam wrote and styled The New Sugar and Spice, from whence came these delectable flans. She also contributes recipes to The New York Times (which are crazy good and which Sarah and I have had the pleasure of styling!) Her new book Gluten-Free for Good: Simple, Wholesome Recipes Made from Scratch is a total gem. And we’re giving away copies of Gluten-Free for Good and Alternative Baker today! See below for details. 

But first, a wee rant.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

When I was doing research for my book proposal, I came upon a lovely looking book on Amazon which had a poor rating. The book came from the UK, thus it only had a handful of reviews, one of them with only one star. As I read the review, it became clear that the reviewer had made an error that he then blamed on the cookbook author. “A cake recipe called for polenta, but the polenta was listed with the dry ingredients, which was wrong. I used the pre-cooked polenta in a tube. The cake batter was too wet and never baked – it was disgusting. This book stinks.”

I wanted to grab that reviewer by his ignorant shoulders and scream “Polenta IS a dry ingredient, you moron! Only an idiot would buy precooked polenta in a tube to put in a cake when it was clearly listed as a dry ingredient. The book is fine – you’re the one who stinks!” The fact that the review remained up, tarnishing the rating of the book, seemed a gross injustice.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

I realized then that, should I ever be fortunate enough to publish my own book, I’d need to toughen up and be ready for annoying Amazon reviews (and take up kickboxing to get out my aggression, clearly).

“Don’t read the Amazon reviews,” more than one cookbook author warned me. But did I listen? I was thrilled to get my first positive reviews, calling Alternative Baker “My Baking Bible,” “utterly gorgeous” and full of “jaw-dropping photographs, meticulously crafted recipes, easy-to-follow instructions, and tasty results.” I was thrilled! Maybe I would manage to dodge psycho reviewers after all.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

Alas, I was as naive as an inexperienced baker buying polenta for the first time. The first annoying review came in the other day, complete with 3 stars. “I guess there wasn’t enough info when I ordered this. It seems every recipe I have looked at uses dairy. It’s just Gluten free. Bummer, I will have to give it away.” I found this incredibly frustrating because 1) there are several recipes in the book that are dairy-free, including 4 that are completely vegan, and vegan crust options for both the pie and tart sections that make it easy to convert those recipes to being dairy-free, and 2) nowhere does the book claim to be dairy-free, so there was no need for the reviewer to slam my book for their own mistake in purchasing a book that didn’t meet their dietary needs.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

I took some deep breaths, visualized floating down a quiet stream with the breeze in my hair and no pesky vegans, then wrote a (hopefully) calm and kind note back to the reviewer letting them know about the dairy-free recipes in the book, and explaining my rationale for including dairy in the recipes. Since the book already asks for 14 different flours, and many recipes are made with highly seasonal fruit, I wanted to keep the other ingredients as accessible and familiar as possible. I was also careful to keep plenty of nut-free options in the book, since many GF baking books use a lot of almond flour that can be difficult to substitute out for allergies, and I even included some naturally-sweetened recipes.

Luckily, all was not lost. Some kind soul also saw the reviewer’s rating as unfair, and replied, “Like you I’m gluten and dairy free so I know it’s hard to find recipe books that accommodate that. I haven’t seen this particular book but from the cover and description it simply says ‘gluten free’ and makes no claims to be dairy free so I think your three star review is perhaps a little unfair? Most gluten free recipe books (unless they state otherwise) will use dairy, you just need to look out for that.”


Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

Speaking of books that are gluten-free but full of (some) delicious dairy, I’m currently obsessed with Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Seneviratne. Like me, Sam isn’t 100% gluten-free, but her love of cooking and baking for everyone she knows drove her to rock some deliriously good GF recipes. The book is filled with stunning photos and streamlined, everyday fare, from breakfast through to dessert, all loaded with vibrant colors and flavors. Sam’s baking recipes all use alternative grains and flours rather than relying on pre-fab baking mixes, and most recipes are free from gums as well, using psyllium powder instead. The book is mostly vegetarian, and it even has some dairy-free and vegan options. Paging through the book makes we want to run to the kitchen and cook every time I open it up. Which is a lot.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

Sam’s Pear and Ginger Crisp exemplifies the recipes in GF for Good, with easy-to-source ingredients, a seasonal fruit base, streamlined instructions, and clean flavors. I added blackberries this time around, but the recipe is just as good without (and I bet pomegranate, cranberries, or poached quince could be tasty, as well). A dose of fresh ginger adds zing and acidity to the filling – just pears, maple syrup, and a little cornstarch. The topping is simply oats, nuts, brown sugar, butter, and just the right level of salt, and it bakes up into a topping that reminds me a bit of tender, clustery granola. In fact, this crisp works as well for breakfast with plain yogurt as it does for dessert with ice cream. I’m especially glad to have this recipe in my arsenal for when I don’t have a pantry full of alternative flours at hand.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

I’ve made this crisp twice, and Sam’s hazelnut flour scones (they’re super addictive), and I have a ton of other recipes bookmarked, including:

  • Sweet Potato Spinach Hash
  • A Simple Loaf of Bread
  • perfect looking Cinnamon Buns
  • Smoked Gouda Grits with Eggs and Arugula
  • Creamy Breakfast Quinoa with Roasted Strawberries
  • Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Gomasio
  • Red Quinoa and Brussels Sprout Salad
  • Rosemary Amaranth Crisps

and loads more. Gluten-Free for Good gets five stars from this reviewer!

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED: We’re giving away a copy of Gluten-Free for Good and Alternative Baker to one lucky winner!

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below about your favorite seasonal fruit dessert OR a recipe you’d like to find a good gluten-free version of.

THE DETAILS: Open to residents in the U.S. and Canada. Giveaway will run from Thursday, October 12th through Wednesday, October 19th, 2016. Winners will be notified by email by Sunday, October 23rd.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}
Yields: 6 servings
A stunningly simple fruit crisp with a granola-like topping that's naturally gluten-free, all kissed with the zing of fresh ginger. Adapted from Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Seneviratne.
  • 1 ¾ pounds firm-ripe pears (such as Bartlett; about 4 medium)
  • 12 ounces ripe blackberries, halved if large
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup (90 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (GF if needed)
  • ¾ cup (80 g) chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup packed (55 g) light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ice cream, for serving
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the pears, blackberries, maple syrup, ginger, and cornstarch until well-combined. Scrape into an 8x8” pan or the equivalent.
  3. In another large bowl, combine the oats, pecans, brown sugar, salt, and butter, rubbing the butter with your fingers until the mixture forms large clumps. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Bake the crisp until the top is deeply golden and the fruit is bubbling, 35-45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve warm, with a scoop of ice cream if you like.

Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}


80 thoughts on “Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp {gluten-free}”

    1. My Granny used to make peach hand pies. I resently discovered white peaches. I think that they would be wonderful in a cream cheese pie crust with a thick and spiced filling.

  1. What a stunning crisp. You seriously can’t go wrong with blackberries and pears! I absolutely love seasonal pomegranates too, but I need to do some more experimenting with how to incorporate them into baking :)

  2. Beautiful with the addition of the blackberries, and it is my pet peeve when reviewers blame the recipe for their own errors or substitutions. I am looking for a great GF birthday cake.

  3. I love apple cranberry crisps! The sweet and tart together is so delicious, and definitely counts as a good breakfast too in my mind! ;) I would love to win – thanks for the chance!

  4. Oh man, crumbles are my favorite! But I actually haven’t successfully made one…ever… Because my mom’s much made crumble has no recipe. So thanks for this!
    Lately, on the gluten-free baking front, I’ve been dithering with hermit bars and vegan cinnamon rolls.

  5. My kids love gluten free apple and raspberry and pear crisps. I’m in a desperate search for a gluten free challah! Help!

  6. My favorite seasonal fruit is probably berries. Spring strawberries and summer raspberries and blueberries. But i like fall apples too. Recently I bought so many kinds of flours that my kitchen looks like a lab. Your book and Sam’s would be helpful guides for utilizing the flours. Don’t sweat that review. It’s just silly. Your analogy is perfect. Gluten free doesnt mean vegan. Though if you are vegan you can also usually adapt recipes. I know your book will be well received and lasting!! Just like all of your recipes here. Xo

  7. Do I really have to pick just one favorite seasonal fruit recipe? I absolutely love rhubarb and have made your rhubarb roulade more times than I can count. It is amazing!! And…. if you could come up with a fabulous alternative grain croissant recipe I would be your forever friend! This is a book looks absolutely fabulous!

  8. What a fabulous recipe and giveaway, Alanna! This crisp is over the top delicious and I love the pecans in the topping. The critics.. they’re always out there, right? And we’ll never be able to please everyone, no matter what. I’ve had your book in my hands for three weeks now. It’s dog eared, tagged and already spilt on! I’ve been to three different stores in search of alternative grains and have purchased sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, a new bag of buckwheat, teff and amaranth. I can’t wait to make your Banana Caramel Cream Tart and Bourbon Sweet Potato Cheese Cake! Your Teff Oatmeal Cookies with Whiskey Currants got rave reviews from friends and family. I’m inspired and so excited to try some of these new-to-me grains. You’ve taken the bull by the horns (as we say in TX) and have led us down the path of discovery, rejuvenating ancient grains! I don’t see your book as a GF book, necessarily. I see it as a modern take on grains and flours once forgotten. It’s a work of art, Alanna. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others! Now… a favorite fruit? It’s gotta be blueberries.. in any form. Raw, easy to bake with, toss in sangria… Dessert? Probably pots de creme.. or a blueberry crisp :D .

  9. I had a wonderful apple pie recently with fresh fall apples. Made me so happy! I also love simply eating handfuls of blueberries and raspberries for dessert wrench they are in season. I can’t get enough!

  10. I was daydreaming about a possible crisp recipe earlier this week and then this email came in today! It must be fate. Will have to make this on the weekend. They are perfect fall flavours and we’ve been eating ginger in everything lately, it’s our favourite right now. I just have a quick question – could I use frozen (thawed?) wild blueberries? I understand the colour might bleed through, but I really wouldn’t mind!
    And so sorry about the comments section – they really can be disheartening. But pay no attention – your recipes are truly magical and your book is going to make SO many people happy and grateful!! As for a dessert that I would LOVE to see a delicious GF, refined sugar-free version of is Pineapple Upside Down Cake!!

    1. You’re so sweet Vittoria – thanks for the kind words! I think frozen wild blueberries would be perfect in place of the blackberries – probably no need to thaw. Let me know if you give it a go!

  11. I’m a berry person, but when fall hits I love all of the different types of citrus that start to fill the market. My husband and I will split up and go grab a couple of our favorites. I didn’t always love citrus so much (just seemed omnipresent and not as exciting as berries), but as I grew up I saw the variety that went beyond sweet oranges and have fallen in love with cara cara oranges and clementines, and the list goes on…
    Thank you! So excited to try this crisp!

  12. Every fall my mom makes a sublime apple cake with penuche icing from the apples on her trees in her backyard, and even though I’ve long moved away from home I still find myself CRAVING that dessert whenever the leaves start to change.

    Speaking of… is there a good GF apple cake recipe that exists??

  13. Rhubarb anything, preferably without strawberries though! I would love a good crumble or granola recipe with no oats!

  14. Oooohhh this looks delish!!
    My favourite seasonal dessert… so many good ones but the first one coming to mind is fruit crumbles or crisps. One of my biggest go-to’s all year with whatever fruit is in season… rhubarb & berries in the summer, apples & pears in the fall… :)

  15. This pear crumble looks delicious. I have some bosc pears now and I am going to give it a try. Earlier in the month I was making an Italian plum torte from NY Times which wasn’t gluten-free but so good. It’s the one from Marian Burros. I would love to bake it gluten-free.

  16. I made a pear + blackberries + raspberries crisp yesterday :D
    Btw, Amazon reviews are – sometimes – the worst. I read the “bad” review on your book and I thought WHAAAAT? Do you know what gluten-free means? And dairy is maybe the easiest thing to replace in a recipe anyway.
    Your book is stunning, f**k the morons.

  17. Oh Amazon reviews. One of my favorite vegetarian cookbook has quite a few one star reviews on Amazon because it’s not vegan. I’m sorry that you have some special people using your cookbook. Maybe it’s a rite of passage to “real authorial status”?

    This crisp looks fantastic. I’m not gluten free, but I loved The New Sugar and Spice, so I’ll definitely have to check out GF for Good. As for my favorite seasonal fruit dessert, I’m going to have to go with my mom’s apple betty. It’s simple and nostalgic as all get out, but it’s so deeply satisfying in a way I can’t describe.

  18. My favorite seasonal dessert is a pumpkin pie. It encompasses my favorite season…fall and my favorite holiday…Thanksgiving.

  19. I’m a “newbie” to your site and love it! This GF Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Crisp is just right and so satisfying. I’ll be making this frequently. Thanks for posting and I’m looking forward to more wonderful creations.

  20. My favorite seasonal dessert is peach and raspberry crisp. Any crisp really but the combination of peaches with raspberries are my favorite. My mother allowed all of us to pick our own birthday menu’s growing up. This was my dessert (I am a summer baby) of choice!

  21. I’m still on a search for a beautiful gluten free cinnamon roll recipe that tastes as close to the original as possible. PS. I’m also dairy-free but totally buying your cookbook! ;)

  22. Definitely strawberry shortcake! It is just such a nostalgic dessert for me. During strawberry season, my Mum would make it every night which was quite the treat. Either my sister or I would be in charge of making the whipped cream which also meant first dibs on the beaters.

    Growing up along the border with Maine, she made the biscuits using a baking powder mix called Bakewell Cream that you could only buy in the states. Now I live in Ontario and my sister in the Yukon but we’ve both got cans of Bakewell in our cupboards.

  23. Alanna, for what it’s worth, I had been looking forward to receiving my pre-ordered copy of your book and I was NOT disappointed! I love it! I have been milling my grains, seeds and nuts into flours for quite awhile now and was thrilled to find someone who was as excited as I am about the possibilities! Thank you for the time and effort you put into Alternative Baker! 👏

  24. Upside-down apple cake made with apples from the Saturday farmer’s market. Best served warm from the oven with a cup of tea.

  25. I love Apples the lovely imperfect heirloom ones that are filled with flavors you will never experience from the usual varietals. Any fall dessert made with these delights would make me extremely happy.

  26. I don’t bake all that often, but when I do it’s often a crisp or quick bread. Recently, I’ve also fallen back in love with Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake (which I believe Dorie Greenspan featured in one of her books a few years ago)… I’ve made five of them in the last two weeks.

    Love all of the ingredients in here and I’ve heard such wonderful things about her book! Looks wonderful (as does yours!!!)

  27. Oh goodness… this looks delicious. My favorite seasonal dessert is gingersnaps or any spiced cookie. (Although, I eat them year round whenever I can, so…). Your book and Sam’s book both look wonderful and would be helpful as I am gluten-free (but not dairy-free haha.) Congratulations so much and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. :)

  28. I love baked apples! Cored whole apples with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar are the best. Add ice cream on top and they are swoon worthy.

  29. I’m looking for a good pie crust recipe and a light scone recipe. I’m excited to make the pie crust from Alternative Baker! It’s easy to make a recipe vegan by substituting Earth Balance or oil for butter. It can be trickier to swap for other dairy products. I’m planning to buy a copy of Alternative Baker if I don’t win this contest. I also asked the Oakland Public Library to order a copy.

  30. I’ll be making this tonight! I love peach pie/ tart/ ice-cream, essentially peach anything in the summer, especially when the peaches are at their peak ripeness.

  31. Saskatoon berry pie! Love to spend hours picking (and eating) the berries from the bushes we have in our backyard. I think they have a different name in America though.

  32. My favorite seasonal fruit desserts are: a spring rhubarb sponge pudding, a summer peach tart, an autumn apple pie, and a winter citrus salad.

  33. I love apple crisp made with the deliciously tart-sweet Jonathan apples. I’m not sure where in the country they’re available- I live in Missouri, and they are everywhere in the fall. However, when I lived in Philadelphia, Jonathans were nowhere to be found!

    I desperately want a delicious (somewhat easy) gluten free angel food cake recipe.

  34. PEARS!!!!!! All pears. All the time. I love them so much.
    And a recipe I would love to see, which maybe is in your cookbook (I will have to wait for holiday break to check, grad student life leaves little room for baking) is a croissant. I have been craving croissants for 7 years now. I miss them so.

  35. Honeycrisp apples are my current obsession, but honestly what I really want to eat is a gluten free version of tiramisu! This crisp looks so beautiful and seeing this just reminded me that I actually have a huge bags of pears in the fridge at the moment … I think your pear crisp is in our future! ps Alanna I am FINALY emailing you back tonight! xo

    1. Yes, me too! Just discovered the wonder of honeycrisps this fall and am HOOKED. Also, there’s a GF (cheater version) tiramisu in my book! <3

  36. My favourite seasonal fruit is durian haha, only got it once but it was amazing! I love bananas, blueberries and pineapple as well! They are great in smoothies!

  37. My favourite seasonal fruit is durian! Although I have only had it once before, it was delicious! ! I also love peaches, bananas, blueberries and pineapples, they are great in smoothies!

  38. i am so hankering after your cookbook that I’m going for both of these tough Qs :) I absolutely love a good citrus cake (a la your ricotta blood orange cake!) in the wintertime, and can’t get enough of a simple blue or blackberry crisp in the summer. Also, the buckwheat scones from Good to the Grain are fully adaptable to any seasonal fruit – I used plum jam earlier this summer and gingered apple-pear butter this weekend. In terms of goal GF recipes, I would lurv a recipe for a good croissant (or other flakey pastry), a crusty baguette, or challah. a GF girl can dream, right?

  39. I would love to find a solid gluten free recipe for big, chewy ballpark style pretzels that you can dip into spicy mustard! This may just be my pregnancy talking, but that would be amazing! Also, I agree with the comment about gluten free croissant.

  40. One of my favorite fruit desserts is apple pie, but I haven’t eaten anything in sweet or savory pies that I haven’t liked–love pastry. I also love that I’ve found delicious recipes for gluten-free pastry (just tried your recipe for Teff Flaky Pie Dough in your new cookbook that has made it to our family favorites list). A recipe in gluten-free form that I’ve been searching for is the dumpling dough for Korean mandu. I’ve tried one I found and it was terrible!

  41. First, crisps of any kind are a big favorite.
    Second, I was browsing Amazon the other day and, loving your blog, checked out your book. I, too, noted the review regarding dairy. My first thought was ‘what does that have to do with anything, you silly person?’ Wish my second thought had been to comment, but I am glad someone else did. Your book looks great and I am looking forward to cooking with it!

  42. My lifelong favorite seasonal dessert has always been my mom’s apple cake, which she makes every fall for the holidays. When I was diagnosed with celiac, this was the one thing I truly missed more than anything, because to me, it isn’t fall until I eat this cake. Now, I’ll be honest–I finally tried it GF with Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour. It’s good . . . but I know deep down it could be so much better. If I had skillz, I’d tinker with flours and come up with the right blend, but I’m not that talented. (Smitten Kitchen has a similar apple cake recipe on her site, also titled something like “Mom’s Apple Cake.” We differ in how we slice the apples :) She does chunks, I slice. She mixes them into the batter, I layer them on top and press them in.)

    Looking forward to more of your book and Samantha’s, and love all these great new GF recipes, so thanks to you both for exploring this arena! :)

  43. The fruit recipe most often in rotation in my kitchen is your Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, which I’ve made with almost every fruit imaginable– just today with apples and cranberries!

  44. My favorite seasonal fruit dessert has to be the apple cake that my mom made when I was growing up. There were big chunks of apples surrounded by a brown sugary batter. Of course, it tastes best when made by mom 😊

  45. I love making a red raspberry and rhubarb galette every spring/early summer that not only looks beautiful, but tastes amazing.

  46. I love an apple crumble tart – it’s got the lovely crisp texture, but with a butter-rich crust that makes it easy to cut and take along for lunch!

  47. Your book is amazing, thank you. I borrowed it from my local library and together with my daughter we are testing recipe after recipe. We haven’t come across anything we didn’t like.
    As to my favourite fruit dessert, I would say it would be strawberry “cake/tart”.
    When I was in high school, every June I would meet with my two best friends and we would bake this strawberry cake/tart. We made bottom crust which resembled shortcake and we would fill cookie sheet with it and on top we would put rows of strawberries. Before we put it in the over, we would sprinkle cinnamon on top. While we waited for it to bake we would make a pot of tea and set the table.
    The aroma of cinnamon and strawberries would fill the kitchen. We could never wait for it to cool, we would it still warm. For four years of high school we always looked forward to strawberry season. My mom would make a version of this dessert with Italian prune plums, equally delicious.

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