Cherry crisp from a surprise crop

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Cherry crisp

Finished cherry crisp recipe. (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / July 17, 2014)

Cherry is a lovely tree, all pink blossoms, dizzy scent, fat fruit. So last summer, we dug one in.

One, it turns out, is insufficient. Solo, the tree will branch, bud, flower. But without a partner, it won't fruit. Who knew?

In the far corner of the garden, stood our old weeping cherry. Would that do? "Nope," the tree guy frowned. "Strictly ornamental."

Fall fell, winter settled; we forgot about matchmaking. But strange things happen out there, among the birds and bees.

Come spring, the ornamental cherry wept pink blossoms. We noticed the tree looked flush, healthy, cheerful. We walked to the far corner, ran our garden gloves through her soft branches and found them dangling tiny stems, stems dangling tiny cherries.

Who knew? Turns out she was the one waiting for a partner, for love, and for branches fat with fruit.

Cherry crisp

Prep: 30 minutes

Bake: 45 minutes plus cooling

Serves: 8

Bottom:

1 pound sweet dark cherries, pitted and halved

1 pound fresh apricots, halved, pitted and sliced 1/2-inch thick

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons kirsch (optional)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Top:

1 cup flour

2/3 cup quick-cook oats

10 tablespoons unsalted

butter, cut up

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Toss: Heap all bottom ingredients in a large bowl. Fold gently with a flexible spatula.

2. Pulse: Pile all top ingredients into a stand mixer. Mix on low to moist clumps.

3Fill: Give fruit one more fold. Tumble into a buttered 8-inch square baking pan. Tumble clumps over fruit; pat down, gently.

4. Bake: Slide into a 350-degree oven and bake until fruit bubbles and top turns crisp, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on a rack (takes a couple of hours). Nice slightly warm, with vanilla ice cream.

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