I adore autumn weather for many reasons—the comfort foods, the colors of the trees, the days of nothing but drizzling rain—but ripe, fresh apples are what truly bring this season home for me. Apples are one of the few foods I keep continually stocked in my refrigerator. I eat apples like other people enjoy bread or drink milk, daily and sometimes more than once. A few years ago, I found myself with an unquenchable apple craving. One thousand apples later, it hasn't dissipated.
When fall rolls around, and the apples become crisp and sweet, this simple fruit becomes irresistible.
When the cold sets in for the year, I surround myself with apple recipes. My grandmother's applesauce recipe is on constant rotation, popping up several times a season. Slightly bruised apples, fallen from the tree, are often the stars of this dish. Once the soft parts are cut off, the apples are salvaged in such a simple, but beautiful manner. Likewise, this Apple Cinnamon Cake has never failed to grace my autumn table. More apple than cake, the ingredients vary to accommodate the ones already in the cupboard.
A few years ago, I branched out and made my own homemade apple cider. The final result was so fresh and delicious, my roommate and I were so afraid to drink it (lest it should disappear) that the cider nearly spent too long in the refrigerator.
On a phone call with my mother, she told me about an apple crisp my sister had made for her when she last visited. As I eyed the freshly picked apples boxed on my counter top, the idea seemed like the perfect plan to enact with my own apples. When the weekend rolled around, I peeled and sliced nearly a dozen of the small apples, coating them with sugar, and baking them in the oven until tender. I had plans to share the apple crisp with my coworkers, but after two greedy forks kept stealing bitefuls while it was cooling, half of the apple crisp disappeared in a day.
It is safe to say that my coworkers never saw this dish. Sometimes, I've found, some foods are just too good to be shared.
This Apple Crisp is an autumn favorite, with enough variance in texture and flavor to call itself a classic. The apples are baked in a mixture of butter and brown sugar, with a hint of rum to round out the flavor. The crisp bakes on top, sweet and spiced, providing a crunchy contrast to the tender apples. Served cold with whipped cream or hot with ice cream, this apple crisp never fails to please. You may even find yourself scraping the sticky remains from the bottom of the pan, wishing for more.
One Year Ago: Caramel Apple Granola, Chewy Vanilla Bean Cinnamon Bars, and Chai Spiced Rice Pudding
Two Years Ago: Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread, Pumpkin Granola, and Chocolate Cherry Bread
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream, Butternut Squash Custard, and Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Raisin Sauce
Yields 6 servings
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum, optional
About 3 pounds (1.4 kg) baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is uniform. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract) and rum. Pour mixture over diced apples and stir until the apples are evenly coated. Spread evenly into a cast iron pan or 9-inch pie pan. Sprinkle on the granulated sugar.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) butter, softened
1/3 cup (66 grams) brown sugar
1/3 cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (45 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar. Mix in the flour, oats, spices, and salt. Break off the dough into small pieces and sprinkle crumble topping over the top of the apples.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the apples are fork tender and the crumble topping is browned. If the topping browns before the apples are finished cooking, cover the pan in aluminum foil to prevent further browning and continue cooking.
Serve warm or cold, with a side of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.