As a kid, I was not a huge fan of cooked fruit and I definitely did not like apple sauce. It may seem a bit strange that one of my favorite desserts as a kid was my dad’s apple pie. This was not a double crust pie, oh no, this was a crumb topped apple pie. What made it so, so good to me and most everyone else who had the pleasure of eating it, was the crumbs.
I can remember sneaking pieces of the crumb top off the pie before it was served and my cousin and I always fighting over the piece with the biggest crumb on top. To me, the crumbs were simply perfection and made the apple pie what it was. When I met my husband in college – a true cooked apple in every way, loving guy – he thought I was ridiculous when I told him I would only eat my dad’s apple pie. He still thinks I’m a little crazy now about only eating my dad’s apple pie, but after eating his fair share over the years, I think even he’ll admit my dad’s is the best.
Once I had a family of my own and started trading holidays and attended my first Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law’s, I knew I had to bring some of my own tradition to the table. Knowing I would miss out on my dad’s apple pie I really wanted to replicate that for myself and share it with my new extended family.
As a less experienced baker, the idea of making a pie crust was a little bit scary to me. I thought about buying a frozen crust, as so many people do, but I knew my dad would be disappointed. I mean he’s a straight up make it from scratch kind of guy and I grew up with that. Although I don’t disparage anyone who would rather buy than make it themselves, cooking and baking from scratch is just part of my bones. I knew I needed to figure out another way.
Then I thought, why make a pie at all when I know everyone’s favorite part (and especially mine!) is the crumbs. And that is when I began making my own family tradition with apple crisp, and no one has complained since.
I started with my dad’s recipe for apple pie and pretty much prepare the apples as he does. I get them sliced and tossed with a little lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. And even though his crumbs are perfect, I decided to change them up a bit and add my own spin by mixing in a little rolled oats. I love all things oats – along with the flour, sugars, cinnamon and butter. Although nothing beats my dad’s apple pie, I have to say my apple crisp is pretty good. And saving a few calories by skipping the crust, means no one needs to feel guilty about topping their warm apple crisp with a big scoop of ice cream.
- 8-10 apples – at least two different varieties of sweet and tart apples
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch – gmo free preferably
- Lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups oat flour – I use old fashioned rolled oats and blend them in a blender into flour
- ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats – use certified gluten free oats if needed
- ¾ cup cane sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter OR vegan butter - I use Earth Balance buttery sticks – cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Get an 8 x 10 inch casserole ready.
- Start by preparing the filling - Peel and remove the cores of each apple.
- Cut apples into slices approximately ¼ inch thick.
- Place sliced apples into your casserole and toss gently with sugar, cinnamon and corn starch.
- Squeeze a little lemon juice all over.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes in 375°F oven.
- While the apples bake, prepare the topping.
- In a medium bowl, mix together oat flour, oats, sugars, cinnamon and salt.
- Add the butter cubes and press through the flour-sugar mixture with the back of a fork or pastry blender.
- Sprinkle the melted and slightly cooled butter over the mixture.
- After the apples have baked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven.
- Now, using your hands, squeeze the topping mixture a little at a time and gently drop clumps of it over the baked apples until you have covered the whole top of the casserole.
- The idea is to have varying sizes of crumbs.
- Return the casserole back to the oven and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until the topping is lightly browned and the apples are juicy and bubbling.
- Let the crisp rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve on it’s own in small bowls or top with freshly whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.
- My family enjoys leftovers for breakfast, warmed up and topped with plain Greek yogurt. Enjoy!
- Apples – Mix it up! Use at least 2 varieties of apples in your crisp – a sweet and juicy variety (red) plus a tart and crisp (green), to get a nice mix of textures and a more complex flavor. I like to go to my local farmer’s market (Westchester has tons of amazing farm stands and weekly farmer’s markets to choose from) where I can get the best selection of ten or more varieties of apples. My local market even labels each bin so you know which apples are sweet vs. tart and the best options for baking.
- Save the peels – while it’s necessary to peel the apples for this recipe, there’s no reason to waste those precious fiber and vitamin rich peels. I store the apple peels in an airtight container with a little lemon juice and then use them throughout the week to add to smoothies and my daughter also loves just snacking on the lemony peels.
- Flours – I like using oat flour – which I grind myself from rolled oats in my blender – to keep it gluten free and also get the heart healthy benefits of oats, but you can always use a mix of all purpose and whole wheat pastry flour if you prefer. Be sure to use certified gluten free oats if needed.
- Get the kids involved – older kids can help peel the apples. All ages can help out with making the topping. Even teens I know love squeezing the topping ingredients into clumps and “decorating” the top of the crisp with them. Messy, but loads of fun!
- It’s also a really fun observational lesson for kids (and grown-ups alike) to see the beautiful color variations of the different apples once peeled – colors can range from light green to yellow, white and even pink!
- For more recipes by Jen visit https://sweetgreenkitchen.com/