Every year it seems like I go a little crazy at the Hood River Fruit Sale in my neighborhood– and then in the weeks that follow I try to figure out what to do with all my fruit.
This year I bought eighty pounds (mostly various kinds of apples with some pears for good measure), and even happily eating all this fruit around the clock, I still have so much fruit.
This past weekend I thought it would be a good time to make up some apple crisps.
Lately I’ve tried to pull Charlotte into more and more cooking and baking adventures; heaven knows I’m always up to something in the kitchen and it seems like at least one of my kids should pick up some tips while I’m at it, right? (Oliver is only interested in eating my food, not learning how to DIY).
Charlotte has a friend, Lily, who also loves to cook and bake so we invited her over to join us.
First up, the girls put on some aprons I keep close at hand.
Twelve year olds and vintage half-aprons are a great mix– and I certainly appreciated delegating all that peeling to someone else for once.
Apples (a mixture of Granny Smith for tartness and Red Striped for sweetness) were tossed with ground ginger, cinnamon, a dash of flour, some brown sugar, butter, vanilla, fresh lemon juice and a little salt.
The girls then made the crumb topping with cold butter pieces, Dave’s Red Mill oats, flour, brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
Just a few minutes of kneading the butter in with the rest of the ingredients
and the crisp topping was done. We put it in the freezer for a few minutes to chill.
If I’d reversed the order of production (making the topping and chilling and then peeling the apples), we’d have been ready for baking, but I hadn’t thought the timing through so we had a few minutes on our hands.
What better way to kill some time than make a little (trashy but good) Halloween snack Mix?
In the mix was fresh buttered popcorn, plain flavored goldfish, candy corn and Reese’s Pieces. No, I’m not kidding, and yes, it really is so good together (pretzels and M & M’s would have been good, too).
Bonus points for you if you remember to serve it up in a festive bag.
Okay, time to stop digging out those Reese’s Pieces from the bottom of the bag and get those crisps in the oven.
We made a giant crisp in one of my favorite enamel pans and then a smaller one in a cast iron pan.
We have a neighbor who’d just had a baby and I thought it’d be nice to make her a mini crisp (not so big it would take up a whole fridge but sufficiently sized to share with her folks visiting from New York).
And after 45 minutes of baking in a 350 degree oven, the crisps were all done — and my house smelled like heaven on earth. Warm apples, ground ginger, cinnamon, a bubbly vanilla-laced sauce and toasty oats.
I made a quick caramel sauce (half-and-half, butter, brown sugar and vanilla with generous pinches of Fleur de sel) and we drizzled that atop our plated servings.
Crisps have to be one of the easiest, most fool-proof desserts around; you get all that same soft yielding fruit you get in a pie but you also have this buttery, crumbly and crunchy topping, too (without pie’s lower soggy crust which always bums me out).
Give me a crisp and caramel sauce any day and I’m so happy.
So were our neighbors.
And so a big thank you to my adorable helpers
and to the genius who thought up this wonderful homey dessert.
- ½ C. walnuts
- ⅞ C. flour
- ⅓ C. brown sugar
- 4 tsp. granulated sugar
- ⅛ tsp. cinnamon
- ⅓ C. salted butter
- 4 large apples (about 2 lbs.)
- a little brandy to taste (I use vanilla instead)
- Toast the walnuts in a 350 oven for 4-6 minutes. Cool and chop coarsely in a food processor or by hand into about ¼ inch chunks. If the pieces are larger, they will burn while the crisp bakes.
- Make the topping. Put the flour, sugars and cinnamon in a bowl. Work the slightly softened butter in with your hands by rubbing pieces of it lightly and quickly between your fingers, or cut in with a pastry blender. When the mixture is beginning to hold together and look crumbly, work in the cooled walnuts.
- Quarter, core and peel the apples and slices into a bowl. There be 5 to 6 cups. Sprinkle with a little brandy (or vanilla) or couple of teaspoons of sugar to taste, adding cinnamon if you like (I also add a little dried ginger and nutmeg).
- The topping is sweet, so don't oversweeten the apples, they need only enough sugar to bring out their flavor.
- Put the sliced apples in a shallow unbuttered baking dish -- a 9-inch or 10-inch pie pan, a 9-inch square cake pan or a nice terra-cotta gratin dish. Level them and cover evenly with a layer of the topping.
- Bake in a preheated 375 oven until the topping is golden brown all over and the apples are tender -- 30 to 45 minutes. If the topping has browned enough but the apples aren't cooked yet, turn the heat down to 350 degrees and lay a piece of foil loosely over the top.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a pitcher of heavy cream.