Fall is in the air, and for some that only means one thing: homemade Apple Crisp. This glorious dessert, made from scratch with a buttery oatmeal streusel topping, is the easiest, most outstanding way to celebrate the season.
8mediumtart applessuch as Granny Smith, peeled, halved, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 8 cups or 2 pounds, see note 3)
Vanilla ice creamfor serving, optional
To make the oatmeal streusel topping:
In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Drizzle butter over mixture and toss to combine. Set aside.
To make the apple crisp:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart oval or 9-inch x 9-inch square baking dish lightly with nonstick spray or rub with butter.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add apple slices and toss to coat. Pour intro prepared baking dish and sprinkle with oatmeal topping.
Bake until the fruit juices are bubbling and the topping is crisp and golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.
Rolled oats: Flat and flaky, these are otherwise known as "old-fashioned" oats.
Cornstarch: A natural thickener to keep the apples from getting too juicy as they cook down.
Apples: Tart "pie" apples work best. Some prime candidates for baking: Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, McIntosh, and Cortland.
Keep fresh apple slices from browning: Fill a bowl with cold water and add the juice of half a lemon. As you slice up the apples, drop them into the lemon water. The acid keeps them from turning brown before they have a chance to bake.
A sturdy pan matters: A cast iron pan, a thick casserole, a baking dish, whatever you can find. The recipe can be scaled up or down to fit the pan you want to use, and takes improvisation well, as long as you have enough apples.
Crisp vs crumble: Technically, an apple crisp without oats is considered a crumble. But it really doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you try it. Both crisps and crumbles are easy, delicious desserts that go great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Extra crunch: For a crisp high on crunch, switch out the flour for almond meal and keep the rolled oats as-is.
Gluten-free: Make sure your rolled oats are made in a facility that doesn’t also process wheat. (FYI, Bob’s Red Mill makes strictly gluten-free oats.) Then switch out the small amount of flour for your preferred gluten-free flour blend.
Protect the crisp as it bakes: All ovens are a little different. If the crisp starts to brown too soon, cover it loosely with a layer of aluminum foil and continue baking.
Make ahead: I love apple crisp freshly warm from the oven, but I learned a great trick for making fruit crisps ahead of time, ensuring crispy toppings without any sogginess or crumbles that sink to the bottom of the fruit. (By the way, this method applies to any variety of fruit crisp. It’s a time-tested secret of professional kitchens and restaurants, and always used when making fruit desserts.)
Bake the apples in the pan without the topping. Arrange the topping on a separate parchment-lined baking sheet and pop it in the oven to bake separately.
When both the apples and the topping are finished, allow both to cool. Then wrap the apples to store in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, store the baked topping in an airtight container at room temperature.
When you’re almost ready to serve, sprinkle the baked topping over the cold baked fruit filling, and reheat the crisp in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. The apples warm up, the crisp gets crispier, and all of a sudden, you have one beautiful homemade dessert.
Storing: Loosely cover the crisp with foil or plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature overnight, so you can have it for breakfast. Refrigerate the rest if you aren’t able to eat it all; it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Freezing: You can make the oatmeal topping and refrigerate it for up t o2 weeks or freeze it for up to 3 months. When apple crisp calls, just apply it to the sugared, spiced apples (no need to thaw) and bake.