The One Thing Your Summer Fruit Crisp Is Missing (It Makes the Topping So Much Better!)

published Jul 13, 2021
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corn flakes in baking dish next to box of corn flakes
Credit: Rochelle Bilow

Welcome to crisp and crumble season! Although you can definitely make a fruit crisp any time of year, they really peak in the height of summer when fruits like ripe berries and stone fruits (apricots, peaches, plums, etc.) are naturally juicy, which means they get saucy and just the right amount of messy when baked.

A crisp, which is slightly different than a crumble, is a great way to use up summer’s fruity abundance. Making a crisp isn’t difficult; if you can’t yet do it by heart, check out this article and you’ll quickly learn the ropes. When the fruit is in season, you really don’t need to do much beyond toss it with some sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch, then bake it underneath a crunchy, buttery topping. It’s near-perfection in a casserole dish — but there’s one easy way to make it even better.

A crisp’s streusel is made with a mixture of melted butter, rolled oats, flour, and brown sugar. (A crumble gets the same treatment, minus the oats.) Easy — and delicious — enough. But whenever I make a crisp in the summer months, I add Corn Flakes cereal to the topping. This may sound a little odd, but it totally works. Here’s why.

Why You Should Add Corn Flakes to Your Summer Fruit Crisps

The key to a successful crisp lies in its name; it’s gotta be crispy. And mixing Corn Flakes into the topping maximizes the crispy factor. While the bottom layer of the streusel remains soft and juicy, the top has extra crunch power, thanks to the cereal. 

You don’t even have to take my word for it. Ovenly, a bakery in New York City, is known for its Blueberry Cornflake Muffin, which has cereal in the topping. These muffins are dangerously delicious, and they are definitely what inspired me to level up my fruit crisps.

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

How to Add Corn Flakes to Any Streusel Topping

Whenever I make a crisp, I use this recipe as a guide. The ratios of fruit to sugar are spot-on in the filling, and the streusel topping is the best I’ve ever tried. 

After many Corn Flake-topped crisps in my own kitchen, I have found that the perfect oats-to-cereal ratio is 50-50 (easy enough to remember, right?). So if your recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats, dial that down to 3/4 cup, and supplement with 3/4 cup Corn Flakes.

Before adding the Corn Flakes, you’ll want to lightly crush them. This helps them absorb the butter and sugar, and transforms them into crackly goodness in the oven. I add the Corn Flakes to the mixing bowl before adding any other ingredients, then squeeze them with my hands once or twice — you don’t want them to be so finely crushed that they turn into a powder. 

Finally, melted butter definitely works better with Corn Flakes than cold or room-temperature butter. It really increases the craggy pockets and corners, which we all know are the best bits in a summer crisp. While any brand of flaked corn cereal will do, I’m a fan of Kellogg’s original Corn Flakes. They’re inexpensive, simple, and not too thick. If you find yourself wondering what to do with the rest of the box, might I suggest these cheesy potatoes or fried chicken sandwiches? Of course, you could always just make more crisps — cherry season is almost upon us!