Apple Crisp is the shit because its all the warm spicy apple goodness of a pie without needing to be good at making pastry. I am not great at making pastry. Yet. There are hundreds of ways to make this, so get creative with this recipe if you’d like.
There is nothing worse than scrolling through a bunch of crap to get to a recipe. Please, use the jump link if you know what you’re doing – my rambling is only helpful for the bored and the new to cooking. If you do read through, you will be treated to a quick recipe for home made whipped cream should you decide canned is too pedestrian, or better left for taking quick shots when you open the fridge at 1AM with some snacky feels.
Part of the magic of cooking (and to a lesser extent baking – baking is more science than anything) is creating something amazing out of what you have on hand. Throwing out food sucks, use whats in the pantry! Print out the recipe and take notes of what you do differently. Take tasting notes when its done. Hell, leave me some comments about it, I love hearing other peoples versions of things.
As a student of Alton Brown (total daddy, am I right?), step one is always getting my hardware and software together before I start. Highly recommended for anyone else with absolutely no attention span who loses things simply by putting them down. ADHD is a cruel mistress.
The pan you use to bake this in can be glass or non stick or whatever cake/casserole pan you have on hand. Hell, throw it in a deep pie dish. I’m a fan of my pyrex dish with a nice lid for leftovers. Use what you got, worst case scenario is you have some extra apples to munch on. You can bake extra crisp on some parchment and sprinkle it over yogurt or ice cream. Your kitchen is your laboratory, and you, your own Dexter.
So lets start with the crisp (also called a streusel or a crumble. Go figure, butter flour and sugar are a popular combo). I don’t remember the exact size of my food processor, but it just fits everything in this recipe. You may not have one, and thats ok! They’re expensive. Mine was a gift. A mixing bowl and a pastry cutter, or even some strong forks will allow you to blend the crisp ingredients.
The only downside is that if you’re using nuts, its much, much easier to grind them in a food processor. But hey, if someone bought you a slap chop at some point, now just might be the time to bust that bad boy out. Slap the shit out of it for some catharsis. Baking time is you time.
Your crisp, however you combine it, should have a roughly sandy texture with visible streaks or globs of butter (if you over mix it and its more of a paste, it’ll still work. Once chilled, it’ll break up into nice solid pieces easily). I personally prefer to fold the oats in at the end to keep them whole. You may notice that this is a LOT of crisp compared to the amount of apples. I like a good 50/50 ratio. Honestly the crisp is the best part, the apples are just there for flavor and some moisture.
Its important to chill the crisp while you prepare your apple mix so the butter doesn’t melt – make sure theres enough space for the mixing bowl in either your fridge or freezer! This will also help if you wanna make some whipped cream while it bakes (more on that below).
Lets talk apples. There are hundreds of varieties, and theres not really a wrong variety to use, but the type will affect the flavor and texture. Personally, I like to use a good honey crisp or gala apple, they hold up to baking and are on the sweeter side. Some people swear by the tartness of granny smiths, but I find them to be a bit much with the lemon and lemon zest.
Prepping apples for an apple crisp is also a matter of taste. Once cored (a process I am embarrassingly bad at so just do what you gotta do to get the core/seeds out, you will find no judgment here), I just use my mandolin on the largest size slice setting for uniform slices with the skin on. Not a fan of apple skin? Peel those suckers. I just like to get my vitamins in where I can, and the color is kinda neat.
A quick spell to find any small cuts you may have on your hands – squeeze a lemon out with your bare hand to catch the seeds.she who never learns
The sauce for the apples is pretty straight forward. No real secrets here, just whisk the ingredients up in a bowl. Once combined, I just tip the apples in and use my hand to combine. If you’re not into that sort of tactile sensation, a spoon will do you just fine. Once the apples are coated, go on and try one to get a feel for your spice combo, you can still adjust at this point!
Once assembled, all thats left to do is bake in the oven you totally remembered to pre heat. Its step one, who would even forget that? (Me. This is me calling me out. If you are like me, make sure to chill your assembled crisp until the oven is ready.)
All ovens are beautiful in their own way. For my electric oven with top and bottom heating elements, I make sure to bake this on a center rack, and I rotate it halfway through because I keep it towards the door so I can peek at it through the window. That being said, if it takes more than 45 minutes to get bubbly and brown, consider seeing other ovens.
While thats baking away, it is a prime time to be extra and make your own whipped cream. All it takes is a chilled bowl, an electric mixer (or a whisk if you’ve got godlike arms), and three ingredients:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp confectioners sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
While you could arguably just whip air into heavy cream, the sugar and vanilla are important. If you’re not about that sugar life, try another sweetener and consider it a low stakes chemistry experiment. Just throw it all in a chilled bowl (it helps keep it non-melty. After all, the oven is on.) and whip it up until you get some peaks. Over whip it? Well, enjoy your sweet butter, its not a total loss. Let yourself learn something. Most of my knowledge comes from hilariously messing up incredibly simple things, I stand by the method.
By now, your kitchen should smell amazing. When your crisp is ready, take it out and let it cool a bit before digging in, lest we learn nothing from pizza rolls.
Top that shit with your homemade whipped cream, cool whip, canned whipped cream, ice cream, or eat it plain. Your gastronomic fate is in your hands, wield your power wisely.
- 3/4 cup almonds Any kind or cut (or any other nut you have on hand, really)
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 16 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed two standard US sticks, or a cup
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 4-5 apples cored and sliced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (honestly just squeeze out the lemon you're using for zest)
- 1 lemon lemon zest adjust to taste, but I do the whole lemon
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C)
- In a food processor, pulse the almonds until they're crumbly in texture.
- Add flour, brown sugar, and salt and pulse to combine.
- Add butter cubes, a couple at a time, and pulse to integrate. Mix should look like dirt with butter streaks. Globs of butter are ok!
- Transfer mix to a bowl, and fold in the rolled oats (you can add them to the food processor, but I try to keep them whole). Let the bowl chill in the fridge or freezer to keep the butter from melting.
- Combine everything but the apples from the apple ingredient list in a mixing bowl and whisk together.
- Add the cored and sliced apples to the bowl, and mix to coat.
- Pour the apples (and any residual lemon sugar spice mix) into your baking vessel of choice, but make sure it does not fill more than half way, you will need room for the crisp!
- Take the chilled streusel and crumble it over the top of the apples, breaking it up so the pieces are no bigger than an olive. Be sure to cover the apple mix entirely, but there should still be a little room at the top of the pan.
- Bake for roughly 30-35 minutes (you know your oven) on a center rack, turning halfway through to brown evenly. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.