Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Apple Crisp

As recently as two years ago, I would not have eaten this. I have only just begun to eat fruit pies. I never liked the idea of cooked fruit. My idea of a pie was something custardy (like pumpkin) or chocolatey (like french silk). No fruit necessary.

I changed my tune, though. It started with making a pear tart. When I was younger, my parents had a pear tree in the backyard. My grandparents had two. Those trees had us swimming in pears from August to October. Many pear pies were baked. And I hated them. I wasn't a fan of pie crust (particularly if it burned) and mushy cooked pears didn't do it for me either. So I was more than happy to leave those to the grownups.

Fast forward to a few years ago. My parents' tree is gone but my grandmother still has hers. My parents unloaded a few bushels of pears on me one weekend. Now, there was no way Jeff and I could eat them before they went bad. You know pears - they ripen in about three seconds, and then they're mush. So I decided to make a pear tart. The recipe I found had a caramel glaze on the crust and an almond creme to go on top. There was enough to distract me from the cooked fruit that I was willing to eat it. Suddenly, I was eating cooked fruit and liking it.

Now I am a believer. I still prefer my old favorite pies, but cooked fruit isn't a turnoff for me. Good thing, too. I've learned that apple crisp is great. It's like a pie without the bother of a crust (although making crusts can be fun, too). It was the perfect solution to the giant bushel of apples I brought home from the farmer's market. Twice.

Apple Crisp
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens some time this fall.

1 1/2 c + 1 tbsp flour
1 c + 1/4 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
2/3 c butter, cut in pieces
8 c peeled and cored apples, sliced 1/2" thick (this is the most time-consuming step)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine 1 1/2 c flour, 1 c sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Work butter into mixture with fingers until it just clings together in large crumbs. (I had wanted a picture of this stage, too, but my hands were all gunky and I forgot to whip out the camera.) In another large bowl, toss the apples and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 c sugar, 1 tbsp flour, 12 tsp salt and nutmeg. Sprinkle onto the apples and toss to combine. (It works better if you toss them with your hands.) Pile apples into a buttered 2 qt baking dish.

Cover the piled apples with the crumb mixture.

Cover the crisp with parchment paper, then foil. (The paper is so the crumbs don't end up tasting like foil.) Place on a foil-lined baking sheet (to prevent spills - and there will be spills!) and bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and paper and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes more, until the top is golden and the apples are tender. You will see the thickened juices bubble up as well. Let cool 15-30 minutes before serving. It's good with whipped cream or ice cream!

Note on apples: This recipe is better with a tart apple. I used Jersey Macs, which taste fairly tart when eaten raw, but may be a bit too sweet for this recipe. When the crisp was still warm from the oven, it had an overpowering sort of sugariness. This is less noticeable once it has cooled off, but still there. I've done this recipe twice, and this time I dialed down the sugar that goes into the filling (the recipe recommended 1/4-1/3 c - the first time I used 1/3 c, this time 1/4 c). I think it could be dialed down even more. (In fact, I wonder if it's even necessary to have sugar in the filling . . .) At any rate, variety of apple will make a difference in the flavor, so definitely adjust that to match the apples you're using.  

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