Ground cherry pecan-oat crumble is a simple, healthy summer dessert you’ll love. The crumble topping is made with pulverized organic old-fashioned oats and pecans. So if you’re looking for a gluten-free ground cherry dessert, this is for you!
Ground cherries: good things in small packages
For over a decade now, we’ve been raving about ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) to anyone who will listen. The Tyrant and I have long considered ground cherries one of our favorite summer fruits, and now our toddler has developed an equally elevated opinion of them.
Every evening when we’re out in the gardens with our ducks, he’ll inevitably head to the ground cherry patch to gobble up any new fruits that have fallen from the plants.
You don’t have to figure out when ground cherries are ripe. Instead, they’ll tell you by dropping from the plant onto the ground.
Inside the light brown papery husks is a golden-colored physalis fruit that’s bursting with unique flavor. To us, perfectly ripe ground cherries taste like a cross between pineapples and sweet tomatoes with a hint of caramel.
In fact, if you let them sit inside their husks on your kitchen counter for a few days after they’ve fallen off the plant, the flavor becomes even sweeter and more caramel-like.
Now, if you’re reading this article, we assume you’ve got ground cherries, so we’re not going to wax on about them here. However, if you’re currently without ground cherries but want to make up for your shortcoming by growing them yourself, please read our helpful guide: How to organically grow and use ground cherries.
Making your ground cherry crumble: important notes
Ground cherry crumble is a simple recipe, but let’s discuss a few important points before you jump in. (Also be sure to quickly view the step-by-step process photos below.)
1. This recipe isn’t super sweet — on purpose.
We don’t eat many desserts and the desserts we do eat are usually homemade with whole ingredients and less sugar than what most people might like.
If you want a sweeter dessert, bump up the sugar to your liking or add a sweetened dairy topping when you serve it.
2. Quantity range of ground cherries you can use.
There’s a range of 1-2 cups of ground cherries you can use in this recipe. That’s partly because ground cherries are hard to come by in larger quantities, and partly because it’s nice to have a minimum and maximum range in mind when trying to figure out how to make a recipe just right for your own unique tastes.
If you use more ground cherries you’ll produce a dessert that is more ground cherry flavor-forward with a moister crumble topping approximating a cobbler. Less ground cherries means less of their unique flavor and more of a dry crumbly topping.
To clarify, the minimum quantity of ground cherries we’d recommend for this recipe is 1 cup (5.6 ounces) measured with husks removed. The maximum quantity of ground cherries we’d recommend using is 2 cups.
3. It’s a crumble. Yes, it’s crumbly.
When producing recipes, you have to also produce pretty pictures to showcase said recipes. Thus, the photos we took of our finished ground cherry crumble include a neatly sliced piece of crumble on a plate.
We hope these photos do not create false expectations. This is a very crumbly dessert, so don’t expect to get perfectly cut slices when serving. Crumble desserts aren’t meant to be beautiful, they’re meant to be delicious — and this one matches that description!
4. Pulverize the oats and pecans and chill the crumble dough.
You’re going to start by making your crumble dough, which will have a final consistency similar to oatmeal cookie dough. (See process photos below.)
First, you’ll pulverize your oats in a small food processor or multi-bladed Ninja. Then add the pecans and do the same. This gives the crumble a finer texture and helps the oats soak up more moisture.
The finished dough goes into your fridge for an hour to chill.
5. Pan type, size, dimensions and cook time
We love using an antique cast iron pan for these sorts of recipes. We used a Wagner #6, which features a 7″ diameter base that tapers out to 8″ at the lid top.
If you happen to have a similarly sized cast iron pan that’s well-seasoned, use it. Otherwise, we’d suggest using a glass or ceramic bread pan.
In our oven with our cast iron pan, a ground cherry crumble is finished in about 45 minutes. However, every oven cooks a bit differently. Plus, the type and size of your pan or the amount of ground cherries you use may also alter your bake time.
How do you know when your ground cherry crumble is done? The sides will be slightly browned and the dough should look finished in the middle, not gooey.
Process photos: step-by-step
Here’s a quick run-through of this recipe in photos:
Recipe: ground cherry oat-pecan crumble
Ground cherry pecan-oat crumble (gluten-free)
A simple delicious ground cherry crumble made with organic old fashioned oats and pecans.
- 3/4 cup organic old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup whole pecans
- 1/4 cup organic coconut sugar or brown (cane) sugar
- 1/4 cup cup unsalted organic grass-fed butter, softened at room temperature (plus more to butter pan) (This is 1/2 stick of butter)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
Ground cherry mixture
- 1 cup ground cherries or 5.6 ounces (measured whole with husks removed) (*As mentioned in the article notes, you can go up to 2 cups of ground cherries in this recipe. If you do, bump up sugar to 2 tbsp but keep vanilla at 1 tsp so you don't overpower the other flavors.)
- 1 tbsp organic coconut sugar or organic brown cane sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Put oats in food processor or Ninja and pulverize. Add pecans and pulverize. Add all other crumble ingredients and blend until all ingredients form a dense dough. Place dough into covered container then into fridge to chill for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a small (~7") cast iron pan or bread pan (see article notes about pan size).
Smash ground cherries in mixing bowl with large fork or potato masher, then mix in vanilla and sugar. Pour ground cherries into buttered pan and spread evenly over surface.
Break apart chilled dough by hand and evenly distribute over surface of ground cherries. Bake for 45 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and center is cooked through.
Serve warm as-is or with a dollop of dairy-based or alternative dairy topping. Don't worry: your crumble might not look pretty when served, but the taste is amazing!
Want more ground cherry recipes?
If you have more ground cherries to spare, here are other recipes you’ll love:
Want more crumble recipes?