Something you’ll come to recognize about me is that the recipes I use and remember the most are the ones that don’t have exact measurement. You start to learn the feel of what to expect for different kinds of recipes, and intuitively know if it’s right or wrong. Apple crisp is one of those recipes like that for me.
“Apple” crisp is truly the recipe that everyone should learn and have in their arsenal. It is simpler than pie, yet as delicious. Excellent for dessert, breakfast or random “I want yumminess” moments. Signed up to bring something to a potluck? No problem this dish is ready to toss together. It’s the epitome of inexpensive yet delicious.
What you need:
- Baking dish: pick your size, I recommend an 8X8 or a 9X13. A basic casserole dish will work, this recipe is flexible to your needs.
- Apples: choose whatever kind you like. Many people prefer to only cook with tart apples, but I generally go by what is on sale. Apple crisp is forgiving if you didn’t pick the perfect apple variety. You can also substitute apples for just about any bake-able fruit. And if you don’t have fresh fruit, canned apples, pears, peaches, or even fruit cocktail can be used. Another option is zucchini–I would just recommend removing he seeds and tossing the chopped pieces in a cinnamon sugar mixture, lightly coating it.
For the topping:
- Oatmeal: I used old fashioned, but instant or a mix of the two can work.
- Butter: or margarine or ever an oil like canola oil. Basically some kind of fat. Butter and margarine add to the taste of the crisp.
- Flour: I usually have whole wheat flour and unbleached all purpose on hand, but I’ve also used bleached all-purpose. Allergic to gluten? Supposing of course that you are using guaranteed gluten free oats, I imagine you can substitute any kind of flour. Or even toss some of the oatmeal into a food processor and make some oat flour. It mostly just serves to better hole together the topping.
- Brown sugar: Ladies and gentlemen I beg you not to use white sugar. Okay, a bit dramatic I know but brown sugar just adds that extra depth of flavor. I’m a fan of dark brown sugar, but light, medium or golden works just as well.
- Cinnamon and nutmeg: You can be courageous and try other spices 9such as ones to make apple pie or pumpkin pie)
What to do:
1. Preheat oven: I usually forget this step, but aim for about 350 degree.
2. You can grease the dish if you so desire, but I usually don’t have issues with it coming off mostly clean.
3. Prep your fruit. This means slice or dice your apples into relatively uniform sizes. If you like having a combination of slightly crisp/undercooked apple and soft apple go ahead and mix up the sizes. It’s all a matter of preference here. Then just fill your baking dish with the fruit. Make sure it’s evenly dispersed. How much fruit really depends on how much you want. I usually fill it almost to the top (just be sure to leave room for the topping). Remember as it cooks the fruit will compact as some of its delicious juices turn into a syrupy coating.
If you are using canned fruit, drain the liquid almost entirely and dump it in.
4. Make the topping. I usually use a stick of soften butter (or melted if I’m in a rush), a cup of oats, 2/3 cup of brown sugar and 2/3 cup of flour, cinnamon to taste, and usually a dash or two of nutmeg will suffice. Honestly though, I have no idea how much I use of anything except the butter. You want to mix the ingredients to get a crumbly texture. You can “cut in the butter,” with a fork. Usually about halfway through the process I give up on the fork and use my hands to mix it. If you find you added too much dry ingredient, and the mixture is more powdery, add a bit of oil or more butter. You want to be able to form large crumbles. If you were to grab a fistful and squeeze it would mostly hold it’s shape but then crumble if you touch it.
5. Once the topping forms large crumbles (or can form them when you take a fistful and sqeeze), spread the topping over the fruit. I usually grab a handful, crush with my fist and then gently scatter it.
6. Bake for… an indeterminate amount of time. One of the first signs to consider checking is when people start commenting on how good it smells. The crumbs should be slightly golden. Now the tricky part is the fruit. Stab a fork in. You’ll feel how it goes through the fruit. If you prefer crisper apples then take it out when there is still some slight resistance. If you like the softer apples the fork should slide right in.
Here’s the best part. You can dig in now, let it cool then dig in, or stick it in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow, or a cold dessert later.