Have I mentioned that October is my favorite month of the year? Here in Maine it means apple-picking, cider, trees with leaves the color of lit matches, crisp nights of the open-the-window-a-crack-and-pile-on-the-blankets variety, and chilly days of the pack-up-the-picnic-basket-and-dress-warmly-to-share-lunch-by-the-sea (or the pond, or the stream, or on top of the little mountain just up the road) variety.
To be honest, we're having a bit of an Indian Summer this weekend, but that is lovely, too. And it doesn't keep me from baking. So, here's my Apple Crisp recipe. It's one I sort of made up as I went along several years ago. I've tried many varieties of apples for making crisp, but I usually come back to a blend of Granny Smiths for tartness (always, always, always) with Cortlands and/or Macouns for sweetness. I love McIntosh apples for eating, but I never use them for baking, because I like the apples to hold a little of their shape in a crisp, tart, or pie, and McIntoshes simply don't. They turn to applesauce instead. Cortlands and Macouns were bred from the McIntosh crossed with other varieties to make the best of their traits and eliminate some of the mealiness that McIntoshes can have.
Now, I know many folks are very choosy about accompaniments for their apple crisp. Some insist on whipped cream, others like ice cream, and others like caramel sauce and ice cream. I say, to each her own. I don't care for caramel sauce on mine because I like the apple flavor to be the highlight, but I do love a scoop of either vanilla bean or coffee ice cream served alongside the warm crisp. Another fantastic accompaniment, especially if you love combining savory with sweet, is some very sharp cheddar cheese. When I was a girl, my dad would often slide a slice of cheddar under the "lid" of a slice of apple pie. I thought it was a strange thing to do until the first time I tried it, and then I understood. Oh, boy, did I. The same principle applies with apple crisp.
The Magpie's Apple Crisp
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Butter a 2-quart baking dish
- Peel, core and slice about 8 apples (I use 4 Granny Smiths and 4 Cortlands or Macouns to achieve a blend of sweet and tart)
- Fill the baking dish with the apples and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them. Toss to coat the apples with the juice. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together:
1/4 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
a handful or two (to taste) of chopped pecans
- Blend into the topping ingredients with a pastry blender or fingertips:
- Sprinkle the topping over the apples.
- Bake at 375 for 50-55 minutes.
P.S. A special thanks to Maureen Nichols for including my Cinderella pumpkin photo in her post at The Inspiration Studio today!