COOKING ADVENTURE # 39: Apple Crisp
In autumn, most baking/cooking adventures invariably are drawn toward two distinct fruits: pumpkin and apple. Both are in season and both taste amazing with a little cinnamon and some brown sugar tossed into the mix to create something special. It just so happens that last week, I went apple-picking and scored a bag of about 15 or so Macoun apples. I was still being a bit cautious with raw fruit at this time because of the ulcer but I was happy to discover that after eating one right off the tree, no painful side-effects occurred. Bringing these red beauties home, I recognized that I was going to have to put them to good use. I mean, sure I can eat them but… that’s a LOT of apples just to eat. My friend who visited last week, Sean, made an apple pie with a few of the apples which was delicious. I wanted to be able to make something to without taking the same route. After the Lobster adventure, I decided to go a simple traditional route, toward a dish that is universally loved by all. I also expected that it would turn out all right because it’s a practically idiot proof recipe. However, the recipe let me down a little. This, my friends, is the story of my apple freakin’ crisp.
I’ve always wanted to make an apple crisp. I think the big reason for why I haven’t until now has to do with my tendency to over-think its recipe. I knew though that if I was going to have so many left over apples that a crisp would finally be in order. So, I assembled the ingredients, much to the curiosity of the check out lady, and set myself to work early Wednesday morning.
First order of business: peel, core, and cut the apples. I don’t have an apple corer, nor do I think I should have one. It is quite rare for me to core apples. Instead, I pulled out my santoku knife and just cut the apple side by side so that the core resembled a rectangle block and chucked it. Then, with the peeler, I carefully took the skin off the big slices of apple. Then, after slicing those up into thin pieces, I laid them down on the bottom of my 9 x 13 inch stoneware baking pan.
Now, my first error. In the directions, it tells me to use a 9″ baking pan, which would have essentially limited me to my glass pie plate. The only other dish I have is like a casserole dish and it only runs to 7 inches. I should have used that one. Big isn’t always better. Instead, I forged ahead, cutting and peeling the rest of the apples until the bottom of the baking dish had a nice layer of apple pieces coating it.Then, I moved onto the best part of the apple crisp: the brown sugar crumbly crust! In my glass bowl, I added 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup flour. I’m pretty sure I paled a little when I saw the next ingredient: rolled oats. Of course, this would be the one item I conveniently didn’t pick up at the store. In its place, I picked up gram cracker crumbs. Why you ask? Because I honestly thought those were somehow involved in making apple crisp. Dur.
Then, a revelation. I glanced at my collection of instant oatmeal. I had several maple brown sugar packets and one little lonely apple cinnamon one. And, you guessed it, I used the latter package for a substitution in my brown sugar/flour mixture. Then, I added in the remaining 3/4 teaspoons of cinnamon and nutmeg, and 1/3 cup melted butter, then stirred everything together. It was with a mixture of contentment and then shock that I then stared upon my concoction. It smelled heavenly. Problem was that I wasn’t sure I had nearly enough to coat the apples in my baking pan. However, instead of going to the trouble of correcting this by making more, I decided to just sprinkle what I had over the apple slices.
Thick chunks of brown sugar oat goodness littered the pan in places and didn’t distribute evenly at all. I realized that these pieces were likely going to melt though and create more liquid in the bottom of the pan. So against better judgement, I decided not to make extra crust and slid the apple crisp into the oven at 375 for 35 minutes. Within what seemed a very short time, the timer went off and I pulled the sizzling stoneware from the oven and placed it on the stove top. The kitchen was soon overwhelmed with the slightly soury tang of apple and the warm saccharine taste of brown sugar and butter. What I first saw, scared me slightly. The pieces of apple that had been left uncovered looked dry and hard while the rest of it sizzled pleasantly. Unable to try it right then, I packed a helping for lunch. It didn’t disappoint. Now a few days later, I’m looking at my last piece that will be a mid-afternoon snack at work and think, “Oh, if only I had more.” Well, thank goodness I still have more apples…
Next week on Cooking Adventures, I’ll be starting this months Halloween Cooking Adventures with Cooking Co-op #3 as a few friends and I attempt to master the art of Halloweeny cupcakes. Everything from glow in the dark ghosts, to dark-feathered owls will be attempted as well as some fall crafts. Stay tuned!