Apple crisp with its sweet & tart, honey-flavored apples, warming spices, and chewy crunch of the oatmeal crumble on top, remind me that fall is my favorite season!
These are a Few of My Favorite Things…
I know I said that hot fudge sundaes are my favorite dessert, but now that the summer is coming to a close, and fall is closing in on its heels, my tastes shift toward the flavors of autumn, and that quintessential sweet-tart flavor of fall captured in the end-of-summer flavor of…the apple. Not just any apple, but my favorite apple, the Gravenstein. Gravensteins are a wonderful baking apple. In fact, I like them in nearly everything from applesauce to Clafoutis (French Pancake); from pies, cider, fritters, dried Sweet & Sour Apple Rings, dipped in Caramel Sauce, and of course, Apple Crisp.
Apple Crisp is more than a dessert. Ultimately, the aromas of fall spices–cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves– awaken that desire for cozy comfort. Grabbing my dish of apple crisp, the taste reminds me of Saturday mornings in the orchard at our local pick-your-own farm, picking apples and waiting in line for apple cider donuts or apple turnovers warm out of the oven. Apple crisp with its sweet & tart, honey-flavored apples, warming spices, and chewy crunch of the oatmeal crumble on top, remind me that fall is my favorite season!
Growing Up with the Gravensteins
Apples, particularly Gravensteins, were a backdrop to my childhood. I grew up in Sonoma County, California amongst the tall redwood trees. In the fall, the sea salt air commingled with the smell of fermented apples from the orchards. The fog rolled in over the mountains from the coast tucking in the orchards with a cooling blanket before the sun would burn it away by mid-afternoon. This fog and the sandy, loamy soil is the secret to the Gravs perfect flavor.
Each spring, my family and I attended or participated in the apple blossom parade. In late summer, always surrounding my birthday in mid-August, we ventured to the Sonoma County Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol (one of my favorite California towns just 45 minutes north of San Francisco). I have literally planned my visits back home around this festival with its live music under the oaks, warm apple fritters dusted in powdered sugar, and informative classes and demonstrations in all things homesteading. Sonoma County knows how to bring the community together.
Care Packages from Home
My mom has a green thumb…and pinky, index finger, etc. Her garden is a fantastic edible landscape with every square inch carefully laid out. Winter, spring, summer, and fall, I look forward to receiving care packages laden with produce. Each is carefully wrapped in yesterday’s news, and bubble wrap. Whatever is in season–green beans, squash, lemons, cucumbers, dill, cherries, artichokes, asparagus, peppers, and of course, apples arrive monthly in boxes stamped “perishable” to ensure swift delivery. My mailman, Ed, hands me the white box, “Another package from mom.” Priceless. Thanks, mom. I appreciate you. P.S. So does Watson. He lives for package days.
Apple Crisp Recipe
- 10 medium sized (Gravensteins, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Braeburn or Jonagold ) apples- peeled, cored, sliced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced and stirred into apples to prevent browning
- 1 cup fresh cranberries or blueberries (optional)
- 1/4 cup cider syrup (I prefer Carr's Cider Syrup)
- 1 cup Sucanant, Rapadura, Coconut sugar, or Date Crystals
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 2 tsp. pumpkin pie or apple pie spice (or 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. cloves and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg)
- 1 cup butter (softened and cut into pieces)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Butter a 9x13 baking dish
- Peel, core, and slice apples (I use an apple corer to get consistent sized slices)
- Toss the apples in lemon juice to prevent browning
- Add in blueberries or cranberries (optional depending on the season)
- Drizzle the 1/4 cup of cider syrup over the fruit and stir
- In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients, using your fingers to massage the butter into other ingredients to form that perfect crumble
- Sprinkle over the apple mixture and drizzle with one last drizzle of cider syrup
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes until apples are soft with a bubbling syrup- check for doneness after 30 minutes because each apple has a different texture
The Secret Sauce
Now, truth be told, you can make apple crisp without the secret sauce, but why would you want to? Sweet and tangy, and made from 100% organic apple cider in a similar process to that of maple syrup. Seriously, when I discovered cider syrup, which is made with only one ingredient…boiled down organic apples, my recipes exploded. I literally use this on everything from grilled pork loin, drizzled over pumpkin pie ice cream, mixed into zero-proof cocktails and salad dressings, in my Celebration Steak Sauce, and anything apple to intensify and condense the flavor. Carr’s Ciderhouse is a family-owned business in Hadley, Massachusetts and their cider syrup is out-of-this-world AMAZING!
Tis’ the Season to Add Berries…
Gravensteins are ready in late July and into September when the blueberries are in season. Usually, the neighbor’s blueberry bushes are bursting with juicy berries and I am throwing them into everything from smoothies to Galettes. When added to the apple crisp, I love how the blueberries explode into a jammy sauce that mingles with the softened apples. Add a dollop of homemade ice cream, and you have an easy and delicious end-of-summer treat.
In the late fall, when the apple harvest is in full bloom, apples can be stored and used throughout the autumn and winter months. At this time, I prefer to add fresh, tart cranberries to my apple crisp. Not only does it add a festive zing of Christmas cheer, but the flavor explosion of the tart cranberries gives this sweet dessert just the right amount of cranberry pucker.
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*Note: if you are looking to sweeten your crisp using fruit, which will lower the glycemic index, then date crystals are the way to go. Date crystals are a wonderful way of weaning yourself off of sugar and yet still give you the freedom to enJOY a sweet treat. However, I would drizzle an additional measure of cider syrup to the crumb part as the dates tend to make the crumb topping not as moist. I purchase the date crystals because I love the crunch on my oatmeal, in yogurt, or mixed in my Adaptagen Bliss Bombs, but you can purchase date sugar instead if you prefer the finer grind.