I’m still having an issue with autumn. Granted, it’s nice to retire the tank tops and bring out the cozy sweaters. But this is Wisconsin; once we reach mid-October, it’s only a matter of time until the snow arrives. And never, ever leaves. At least, that’s what it feels like here in the Frozen Tundra.
But then I stop by my farmer’s market, and there, tucked in around the last of the peppers and zucchini, are gorgeous apples. They must have a dozen varieties, from tiny, two-bite fruit to the baking behemoths I bought, a locally grown variety called Wolf River.
This time of year is just begging for apple crisp. I love the combination of tangy apples and sweet, floral pears. (I also make it with peaches, but that’s for a different season.) There’s something so comforting about a crisp. This is not a dish you dress up for; this is a treat best eaten in your jammies, curled up in front of the fire.
My mom has made a version of this crisp for as long as I can remember. Mom sticks with the classic combination of apples and cinnamon. I like to experiment with spices. Vindaloo, which I use here, is an Indian blend of sweet and hot spices. The version I use, from Penzey’s*, is more sweet than hot. Chinese five-spice powder or pumpkin pie spice blends are also tasty. There’s nothing wrong with sticking with the classics: cinnamon, cloves (go easy with that one), nutmeg, and powdered ginger.
This recipe makes an indecent amount of buttery, crunchy topping. If you want this dish to be healthy, cut down on the butter, flour and sugar. If you want the purist version of the crisp — meaning you want the butter and sugar unadulterated with healthy stuff; let’s be honest — skip the oats and the nuts. I prefer the nuts and oats (really!) for the chew and crunch they bring to the party.
*I do not receive endorsements, free products, or incentives from Penzey’s or any other company; I simply like their products well enough to recommend them.
makes about 6 servings
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 large apples
3 large pears
2 tbs. flour
2-3 tbs. brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
1/2 tsp. vindaloo (or Chinese five-spice, or cinnamon, or powdered ginger, or coriander)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, make the topping: mash together the butter, brown sugar, and flour. Stir in the oats and pecans. Set aside.
Make the filling: Peel and core the apples and pears. Cut them into bite-sized chunks and add to a large bowl. Toss with the 2 tbs. flour and then brown sugar to taste. Add vindaloo (or your choice of spices).
Pour apples into a 10-inch pie pan. Sprinkle the topping over the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the fruit is tender. Serve at any temperature, but it’s best warm.