With the bonanza of apples resting in the basement right now, Junior and I have been busy perfecting apple crisp. I have often thought of apple crisp as the lazy baker’s apple pie, and while that may be partly true, apple crisp is a delicious, soul-warming comfort food all on its own. Rather than the incomparable buttery flake of pâte brisée, the topping of a crisp has several different pleasing elements. The crisp topping I enjoy has the nuttiness of Emmer, a depth of sweet brought by coconut palm sugar, paired with a smidge of dark brown sugar, only a bit of rolled oats, and very cold butter, chopped in, luxuriously coated by the flour and sugars.
Another factor contributing to apple crisp’s lazy reputation is that the apples don’t have to be peeled. Since this dessert is already homey and rustic, left-on peel adds fiber and increased nutrition to the dish. Baked apple peel may take getting used to, so I generally go partial peel, using my apple peeling device to remove most of the skin, but not obsessing with any bits not captured.
Apple crisp can also be made in individual baking dishes, assembled then frozen to be baked later. I love the look of, and indulgence felt by, my own, just-for-me dessert dish. If you keep the added sugars low, this can make a lovely winter morning warming breakfast.
Here’s our latest version, but experiment with other flours such as Emmer or spelt or Einkorn. Toss the apples with honey instead of granulated sugar. Increase the oats or eliminate entirely. Try adding nutmeg or cardamom or use a mix of different apple varieties. Have fun!
15 minutes to assemble/45-55 minutes to bake
1/2 cup all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
(or use about 1 1/4 pounds frozen, cut-up apples)
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or a little more if your apples are tart)
1 tablespoon butter for greasing baking dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Rub 1 tablespoon of butter all over the inside of a 8-x 8-inch baking dish or 4-5 4 1/2-inch ramekins. Set aside.
Prepare the apples: peel then cut into quarters and remove the core. Cut each quarter into 3 or 4 pieces so they are about ½-inch chunks.
Place the apples into a large bowl and toss with the fresh lemon juice, cinnamon, and the 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Pour the apple mixture into the baking dish. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.
Cut butter into flour, using a pastry blender until the butter looks like small peas.Add oats, mixing with the pastry blender until combined.
Sprinkle the flour mixture on top of the apples.
Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden and bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes, or until bubbling. If using individual ramekins, check for doneness at 40 minutes.
Let cool 10 minutes before serving.