Today has been a beautiful day in Bellingham – it has been a couple of months since we’ve had a “mostly sunny” day, and people around here are ready for blue skies, myself included. Most of us are used to rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon in the Spring, but we have had a serious lack of that this year (especially the sun part). It is so nice to see all the signs of Spring – cherry trees are flowering, daffodils, crocus and tulips are blooming, and you can almost watch the grass grow when the sun does come out.
I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful place to cook at the Cordata Co-op – the kitchen is really nice, and there is a fantastic view of Mt Baker and the foothills when the majestic Koma Kulshan shows its face. Whenever the sun comes out around here, everyone remembers why they love living here, and people come out of the woodwork to go hiking, window shopping Downtown, or head up to the mountain for a little late season skiing or snowboarding (I hear they got over three feet of snow in the last week!).
With yesterday afternoon’s sunshine and the beautiful morning I woke up to today, I started craving a little taste of summer. We currently have Washington grown Pink Lady apples on special (98¢/lb for members of our co-op), I decided a little apple crisp was in order!
I love cooking with Pink Lady apples – they are tart while still being sweet, and are crisp without being mealy so late in the season. They are my apple of choice if Honeycrisps from Bellewood Acres aren’t in season because they work well in every recipe I have tried with them. I inherited my grandma’s apple parer/corer/slicer, so prepping a mound of apples is a piece of cake! If you don’t have one and are an apple lover, I highly recommend going out and getting one – either at a yard sale/second-hand store or at the Co-op (we carry them seasonally).
After your apples are prepped, you want to start the cooking process. This recipe doesn’t have a very long cooking time in the oven, so it is important to cook your apples down enough so they will be able to finish in the oven without cooking them down so much that they disintegrate when you bake them. It’s not as hard as it sounds – and the best part is that the most reliable way to make sure they are oven-ready is to taste them! Once they are soft enough to cut with a spoon but still hold their shape, they are good to go.
I used a technique from Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for Quick Dutch Apple Crisp (the recipe is available to subscribers of their website) – they recommend baking your streusel for a few minutes first and using melted butter rather than cutting cold butter into your flour/oat/sugar mixture, and I thought I’d give that a try.
Once it was all prepped, it went in the oven for about 12 minutes, and presto – delicious apple crisp in April! I served it room temperature with some slightly sweetened “cream on the top” whipped cream from our local Twin Brooks Creamery (the one in the glass bottles). I thought that since I had a 9×13 baking dish full that the sampling might last for a couple of hours, but boy, was I wrong! 64 samples and 55 minutes later, my dish was empty but I was full with the knowledge that I had a hit on my hands!
Melissa’s Apple Crisp
- 1 c all-purpose or GF flour blend
- 1 c GF or regular rolled oats
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- 2/3 c packed brown sugar
- 8 T salted butter, melted and slightly cooled (use margarine for vegan option)
- 5 # peeled, cored, and sliced apples (1/4” thick)
- 1 T butter (or use margarine for vegan option)
- 1 T honey or agave syrup (use for vegan option)
- 1 t vanilla
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- Large pinch ground nutmeg
- Whipping cream or ice cream for topping
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Apple Filling: Heat butter over high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan large enough to hold all the apples (and still have room to stir them) until foaming subsides; Add the apples, honey/agave, vanilla, and spices, and stir to coat.
- Reduce heat to medium-high and cook covered, stirring periodically, until apples become tender and the spices have bloomed, about 10 minutes. Taste the apples mid-way through to make sure that they are sweetened and spiced enough for your tastes.
- Pour (mostly) cooked apples into a 9×13 baking dish and distribute evenly.
- Streusel Topping: In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
- Slowly pour the melted butter over the flour/oats mixture and toss with a fork until evenly moistened and it has formed pea-sized chunks throughout the mixture.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and pour streusel evenly over it. Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Cool baking sheet on wire rack until the streusel is cool enough to handle.
- Cover apple mixture with streusel mixture.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, until apples are all the way tender and they are bubbling, and the top is golden brown and crisp.
- Serve warm in a bowl with ice cream, or cold on a plate with some whipped cream.
Apples: Ideally you want a mix of sweet and tart apples. Sometimes one apple will give that to you (like Pink Lady) and sometimes you may want to use a mix of apples (like Macintosh and Granny Smith).
* This can easily be made vegan if you substitute margarine for the butter and use agave syrup instead of honey.
Apple Crisp PDF