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I've made this recipe so many times over the years that I no longer need to refer to it, but I include it here as it's as straightforward as it is fool-proof. Feel free to add oats to the topping (I add in place of walnuts) or mix it up by swapping out with whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand; I've made this same recipe with peaches, pears -- and even berries, and they all rocked the house.
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 6 servings
  • 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)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. The topping is sweet, so don't oversweeten the apples, they need only enough sugar to bring out their flavor.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a pitcher of heavy cream.
Recipe by Portland Sampler at