Add the lemon juice to taste in step 2 according to the sweetness of your peaches. If ripe peaches are unavailable, you can substitute five 10-ounce bags of frozen peaches, thawed overnight in the refrigerator. The topping can be baked ahead of time, as directed in step 3, then cooled and stored in an airtight container. As directed in step 4, sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit and continue to bake.
3 1/2 pounds ripe but firm peaches (6 to 7 medium), peeled and pitted; each peach halved and cut into 3/4-inch wedges (about 6 1/2 cups prepared peaches)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
3-5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon (see note above)
Pinch table salt
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (1 3/4 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark), 1 3/4 ounces
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 6 pieces and very soft
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1. Adjust oven racks to lower and middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. FOR THE FILLING: Gently toss peaches and sugar together in large bowl; let stand for 30 minutes, tossing several times. Drain peaches in colander set over large bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup drained peach juice, cornstarch, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in small bowl; discard excess peach juice. Toss juice mixture with peaches and transfer to 8-inch-square glass baking dish.
3. FOR THE TOPPING: While peaches are macerating, combine flour, sugars (reserving 1 tablespoon granulated sugar), and salt in workbowl of food processor; drizzle vanilla over top. Pulse to combine mixture, about five 1-second pulses. Add butter and half of nuts; process until mixture clumps together into large, crumbly balls, about 30 seconds, pausing halfway through to scrape down sides of workbowl. Sprinkle remaining nuts over mixture and combine with two quick pulses. Transfer mixture to parchment-lined baking sheet and spread into even layer (mixture should break up into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with some smaller, loose bits). Bake on middle rack until chunks are lightly browned and firm, 18 to 22 minutes.
4. TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Grasping edges of parchment paper (following "Transferring the Baked Crumble" illustrations 1 and 2 below), slide topping over peaches and spread into even layer with spatula, packing down lightly and breaking up any very large pieces. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar over top and place on lower oven rack. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until well browned and fruit is bubbling around edges, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack until warm, at least 15 minutes; serve.
1. After crumble is baked, lift short sides of parchment paper. (Crumble will break apart into uneven 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces.)
2. Carefully slide broken crumble pieces onto peaches or apples, spreading into even layer with spatula.
STEP BY STEP: Overhauling Ho-Hum Peach Crumble
Problem: Bland peaches
Solution: Macerating the fruit in sugar and draining off excess juices helps to concentrate the peach flavor.
Problem: Soggy topping
Solution: Baking the topping separately before sliding it onto the fruit filling keeps it crumbly and crisp.
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated