This vegan blackberry plum crisp is topped with a crispy oat streusel. Easy to make and perfect with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream, it’s a perfect summertime dessert!
Plums are a fruit that I didn’t grow up eating or cooking with until pretty recently. But I’m discovering them more and more each summer and early fall. They’ve become one of my favorite fruits to bake with, and there’s no better way to show them off than with this fresh, juicy vegan blackberry plum crisp.
I always get confused over the difference between crisp and crumble, and I think I’ve finally got it memorized: the streusel topping of a crisp contains oats, whereas the topping in crumble is just flour, sugar, and butter (and maybe nuts). I like both, but this is a crisp, and it’s true to its name. The oats crips up during cooking, which is a nice contrast with the juicy fruit underneath.
One of the nice things about rustic fruit desserts like this one is their flexibility. They can withstand swaps and substitutions. If you don’t have plums or blackberries, you can try peaches and raspberries. Or mixed berries. Or apples and berries. Have fun with the recipe, and let it adapt to the season and whatever you’re bringing from the market to your home.
I used unbleached, all-purpose flour here, which is my go-to for most baking. If you follow a gluten-free diet, you can absolutely use a gluten-free, all purpose flour blend that you’ve tried and liked before (I like King Arthur’s Measure for Measure flour). You could also add a little extra fiber and wholesomeness to the recipe by doing a 50/50 blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. Rye flour and spelt flour could be used in place of whole wheat, too.
I’ve made this recipe with both vegan butter and solid coconut oil for a fat source in the topping. They both work well! I love the flavor of vegan butter, and it’s generally my preference for baking. But solid coconut oil is perfect for this recipe. It becomes solid when it’s cold, so you can store it in the fridge prior to using it in the streusel topping.
I think that rolled oats (sometimes labeled as “old-fashioned oats”) have the best texture for crisp toppings. You can use quick oats in a pinch, but they may get a little less crispy than rolled. I don’t recommend steel cut oats for the recipe.
Plums can be replaced with any stone fruit: peaches, apricots, cherries, or nectarines. The blackberries can be replaced with any other berry. I especially like peaches and raspberries together, so that’s an excellent combination to try. In the fall and winter, you could replace all of the fruit with apples and/or pears.
The beauty of a crisp is the simplicity of making it. Simply toss your fruits together with the sugar and a couple tablespoons flour. Use a food processor to make the streusel topping (it’s also fine to use a biscuit cutter or your hands—the best kitchen tool of all!). Pile the fruit into an oiled baking dish, top it with the streusel, and bake till brown and bubbly.
Crisps and crumbles and cobblers are usually pretty messy looking, but I think that’s part of their beauty and appeal. The first time I made this recipe, the top was a little too brown and the fruit had nearly bubbled out of my baking dish. It was a total mess, and I wondered if I should remake it. I’ve made neater batches since, using a slightly bigger baking dish and adjusting oven time. But they’ve all been equally tasty.
It’s hard to beat a summer dessert that’s both this delicious and this low-key. The fact that crisps are packed enough with fruit and oats to be a pretty reasonable breakfast option is a nice perk. But I like this crisp best when it’s topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or a big spoon of banana soft serve.
If you love plums already, then I’m reasonably sure you’ll like this vibrantly colored, juicy vegan blackberry plum crisp. If you’re more of a pie crust person, you can also try my vegan plum and spelt galette, which is another favorite of mine during plum season.
I’m making my way back to grad school (again!) this fall. This time, it’s to begin my masters in nutrition science. My start date for classes is right around the corner. I’m excited, but I’m nervous, too. The last year has been such a gift, a chance to dive back into writing, blogging, and counseling with purpose and pleasure. It’s hard to leave it behind. But I realize that the education I’m getting— more thorough understanding of nutrition science and how it works—is precious.
This fall, I’ll have courses in nutritional ecology, nutritional biochemistry, and human development. I’ll report back to you on what I’m learning from time to time. I also plan to share with you some of my strategies for meal prep and planning as a part-time student. This was something I really wanted to do more constructively during my post-bacc, but those years were so chaotic that I never really shared in a way that was helpful. I think I can do better now!
On that note, everyone, have a great night. And enjoy the beautifully messy crisp.
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This blackberry crisp is so Instagrammable and adorable! As you know I made it a short while ago and it was lovely! Thx, Gena for sharing!
Dessert very tasty and very nutritious and will be doing and putting in my company by salgadinhos para festa.
I am so proud of you. This makes me so happy. I am SO proud of you. xo
Sending you so much love going forward, it’s been an honour to follow your journey, to learn alongside you, to watch (read) you grow and find your calling. And I just *know* your super-keen to dig out your student lunch boxes really! (you know the tiffin i mean 😉 ) xxxxxxx
I’m looking forward to making this. Personally, I love when food appears a little messy around the edges – it just calls to be eaten!
Best of luck this semester. Sounds like you have a great balance worked out. Xo
You make going back to school sounds like an adventure! Good luck and hope you’ll have tons of fun learning! By the way, this plum and blackberry crisp looks absolutely delicious – mess and all 🙂
Hi Gena! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and wanted to tell you good luck with your new studies! I am starting my MS in nutrition this semester as well after a long time coming. I wasn’t sure whether or not to go the RDN route but now I am really considering it after reading some of your posts. I looked at the ACEND site but didn’t see my school on there so I’m hoping to contact the Counsil and see if I might be eligible as well. I look forward to seeing your meal posts to get some inspiration during this new back to school season!
It’s gonna be AWESOME Gena. Columbia is a GREAT school.
Wishing you well for this new chapter in your life.
Your writing is so honest and beautiful in this post, Gena. It sounds like you’re heading into this new chapter from a great mental place–wise, calm, and ready!
Not posting a recipe because of the messiness is something I would consider too, but I think the messiness of this summer crisp definitely adds to its charm. XO
The mess makes it all the more beautiful. I always say “cook and bake with abandon,” and if that means I make a mess, so be it! This is a beautiful crisp and I love that you used plums and blackberries together. Best of luck to you with your classes!!
“Cook and bake with abandon” is a beautiful philosophy, Lauren. Thank you for sharing.
“Life is too short. I will work hard, I will apply myself with rigor, and I will enjoy the material. But there will be things I don’t grasp easily, and mistakes will be made. Life will go on, and I’ll cherish the learning process anyway.” — I’m going to write this on a post-it note and carry it with me everywhere. Perfect words. And the recipe looks amazing.
Keep that post-it close, lady. We back-to-schoolers need it!
I am applying for the didactic program this spring at the University of North Dakota so I am still working through my pre-reqs. Nutrition Throughout the Lifecycle has been my favorite class so far, especially the sections on breastfeeding. I had a fantastic professor who made all of the info easy for us to soak up. Good luck with your semester!
So glad that you’re enjoying your coursework, Erin, and I love the tip about Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. I actually just switched up fall classes so that it’ll be Human Development instead, but Life Cycle is in a future semester. Can’t wait to explore the class.
I constantly read about healthy lifestyles, and try to keep an alkaline ph.(as a result of repeated UTI’s, reflux, etc…to keep from taking any kind of meds, which can destroy my bone density) I have used strictly almond milk for 2 years, but just read that the ingredient, carrageenan, is cancer causing…therefore, we should make our own almond milk. Are you aware of carrageenan and it’s consequences? I also eat lots of raw foods as I know cooking destroys some of the nutrition, so I watch your site for those recipes without sugar and other acidic foods. I had a great desire of becoming a dietitian many years ago, but didn’t know where to start, as I felt most dietitions were not taught true nutririon. Congrats to you and good luck with your adventure of learning more…and for passing it on to us.
Get ’em, tiger.
I’m glad you posted this! I agree that the messy edges are part of a crisp’s charm and I especially love using plums in crisps for that pretty purple/pink colour they impart. Wishing you the most restful unofficial “last weekend of summer” before your studies begin xo
Many thanks for the kind words, Christine! Crisps are so lovely (I say this still basking in the glow of yesterday’s leftovers!).
Aw so happy for you Gena, it sounds like things are really falling into place and you’re at a great place life, school, and careerwise. I’ve been following your blog since the beginning and find it inspiring. Thanks for sharing your personal journey with school and work. I’m trying to get into an RD program, came from an arts background and am facing set backs and your stories encourage me to preservere. Best of luck with this semester. It sounds like it will be a great balance and all very fulfilling.
I’ve been enjoying your thoughtful comments for as long as you’ve been enjoying the blog! Thanks so much for the kind words. I can’t encourage you strongly enough to persevere with the RD track, if that is what you want. I know it’s humbling and often exasperating to switch gears from a lifetime in the humanities to the hard sciences. But what I can tell you now that I’ve been at it for a long time is that the material really *is* starting to cohere, to resonate, to take shape, and the methodology is truly starting to feel like second nature. It’s a new way of thinking for sure (just like they say law school is), but with patience, it can open up a lot of fascinating material. Be tough, but be gentle on yourself, and I wish you much luck.
Good luck going back to school Gena! You’ll do wonderfully and are definitely on the right track. I’d be a student (nearly) all my life if I could too. The field of nutrition is always changing, interesting and inspiring. That’s one—of the many— things I love. Good luck and enjoy! Lovely recipe too:) Looking forward to reading your new book out with Food 52!
Thanks so much for the kind words, Heather! I hope you enjoy the crisp, and that you’ll enjoy the book 🙂
Gena, I loved this post soooo much! So happy you’re doing the right thing for you. Looking forward to updates about school and any tips/techniques for planning, etc. That’s one of my biggest downfalls, for sure. And of course, I love this recipe. Planning a trip to the market this Saturday to look for plums. Thanks for all you do!
Thanks, Sheri! I have vowed to address planning *many* times over, and this time I’m really determined to put my money where my mouth is. So, stay tuned–and enjoy the crisp!
ps Intrigued by what nutritional ecology might be. . .will look forward to learning about that with you. .
Ah, nutritional ecology is nutrition studies from a global, or ecological perspective. So, according to the syllabus, the topics covered will be food/population problems and food aid, food product development and promotion here and abroad, energy and food relationships, food safety and the changing American diet, organic agriculture and natural food, and biotechnology. A *lot* of rich and provocative material. The teacher of this course, Joan Gussow, is a bit of a legend, and as it turns out, Ginny Messina (whose work I admire very much) was quite influenced by her as she was starting her own nutrition studies.
Anyway, I’ll certainly be sharing along the way!
Oh Gena, I’m SO glad you didn’t banish this lovely crisp on “messiness” grounds! I was admiring the heck out of it, and remembering with fondness all the berry and plum crisps I’ve made over the years and how that baked beautiful purple is my favorite cooked-fruit color–so when I read you almost banished it I gasped!! Glad for that sense of humor and seeing the charm in the mess (thanks Steven, excellent observation). 🙂 Also really enjoyed your back to school thoughts. It’s so very wonderful when we get on a path that feels “right” down in our bones. I’m very happy for you, and also think it’s wise to take the pace you are taking. Bravo! And here’s to life’s delicious messes. 🙂 xoxo
Thank you, Maria! I can’t tell you how often I didn’t post something on this blog because it didn’t seem photogenic enough (or some other kind of “not enough”–not creative enough, not complex enough, etc.). It’s something I’m letting go of, another layer I’m shedding as I grow into my love of food and my love of food blogging. And I totally agree with you about the beauty of cooked purple fruits! Such a lovely sight (and all of those healthful anthocyanins….) 🙂
Sounds like an exciting time ahead, good luck! Looking forward to hearing about what you learn…
Thanks, Sophie 🙂
You rock, Gena. I’m consistently so impressed with how brave you are.. It takes so much courage to share your story, and I think your story is incredible. Congratulations on finding your place (I think that’s a huge accomplishment in and of itself). And I hope you’re enjoying being a student, even though it’s bittersweet… I feel like part of being in the healthcare field is being a lifelong learner. I’m so looking forward to your meal planning post, as my life as the busiest student I’ve ever been is leading me to eat store-bought hummus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (eek!)
I know that you of all people understand the humility that comes with being a health science student! I hope that your own path is taking you to interesting places, places in which you’re learning about yourself and about how to take care of others. When you boil pre-health and health studies down to those two primary pursuits, the whole thing feels profoundly worth it, doesn’t it?
YUM! I love desserts:)