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Apple crisp/crumble recipe?

  • k

First of all I'd like to say Mark Bittman's pie recipe from How to Cook Everything (a great cookbook) produces an aromatic, buttery, flavorful pie, which is also beeeeyoootiful. Seriously, my pie looks better than a lot of magazine pictures, and makes many photographs in food/cooking catalogs look pitiful by comparison.

OK, enough bragging. What I really wanted to talk about was...

I love desserts made with apples, but am often too lazy to make a pie from scratch, and I've made apple clafouti three times in three weeks (see link). Crisps and crumbles seem like an attractive alternative, but the few recipes I've tried so far have been disappointing - the crust was too hard or too sweet, or the flavor of apples was overpowered by the brown sugar, or the apples cooked to mush... do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share?

Thanks!

Link: http://www.saveur.com/SAV_Main/1,3136...

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  1. n
    Nina Wugmeister

    Thanks! I'm planning to make Bittman's Coq au vin with prunes tomorrow evening, and was deciding on dessert - I'll do the clafouti.

    1. this one is simple, no-fail & always gets raves:

      english apple crisp

      apples -- peeled, cored and thinly sliced (i would recommend a couple mm thick, or as thin as possible & granny smiths seem to work well), enough to fill 9x9" pan or pie tin & form a mound in center (or 7-10 apples)
      1/4 c sugar
      1/2 c butter
      1 T cinnamon
      3/4 c brown sugar, packed
      1 c flour

      place apples in pan. sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. mix flour with butter and brown sugar until crumbly. sprinkle over apples evenly & pat down firmly. bake at 350 degrees for 45 min or until apples are soft. serve (let sit for at least 1/2 hr after removing from oven) with ice cream or whipped cream.

      serves 6-9.

      1. Just returned from the market after buying ingredients for my favorite apple crisp recipe. Its simple and quite delicious. Got the recipe from a good friend of mine who's the best cook I know. Here it is;
        5 c peeled and sliced apples (granny's are good)
        3/4 c flour
        1 c sugar
        1/2 tsp cinammon
        1/4 tsp salt
        1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter cut in small pieces

        Preheat oven to 350. Butter 1 1/2 quart dish. Spread apples, sprinkle 1/2 c water on top. Combine flour, sugar, cinammon, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter until it resembles course meal. ( I ususally just use my fingers to do this) Spread evenly over top of apples. Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until top is browned. Serve w a good premium vanilla icecream!
        Bon apetit'

        1. n
          Nina Wugmeister

          Katerina, what kind of apples have you found to be the best for the clafouti?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Nina Wugmeister

            Granny Smith. That's what the recipe called for, and it really worked. For pie I use Golden Delicious, but I think you need the tartness for the clafouti (the custard is mild and sweet).

            1. re: Katerina

              Hmmmm, this is weird. It says nowhere in the recipe they should be Granny Smith apples. Someone else must have planted the notion in my brain. But anyway, they did work really well.

          2. Making a clafouti or crisp, etc, only saves making the crust. And then you have to make the rest of it anyway. If what you really WANT is a pie, then I'll share my hard won secret to flaky crust with minimum fuss.

            I used to tremble at the thought of making a crust. Actually making a crust is dead easy, once you get the rhythm of it. First of all, you can make a double. triple, etc. batch and freeze up the crusts for future pies. Second, made in the processor it's a matter of seconds to mix. For a single crust tart: Dump in a slightly heaping cup of flour (no dip & sweep or spooning in) & a pinch of salt: 1 stick of frozen butter that has been cut into irregular chunks (cut in 4 lengthwise, then crosswise in 1/4 - 1/2" cubes). Run the motor til most of the butter is crumbled like cornmeal but there are still some visible bits of bitter as well (that's why you cut irregular sized cubes).

            At this point get out a funnel to put into the feed tube so that when you pour in the water you can cant the funnel so that the water doesn't simply fall into the center of the processor where it will do no good, but into the mass of batter which is out at the edge of the bowl. I usually dump in 1/4 cup cold water, check the batter to see if it needs any more, which it sometimes does. All those instructions of using the least amount of water possible is baloney, not apple pie. When the crust begins to clump, stop and pour out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to push into a cohesive mass. I ususally fiddle with it a bit here, shaping it into either a disk or rectangle (depending on its future use, dividing if making a multiple batch) that is 1/3 - 3/4 inch thick. Put on a tray and refrigerate til ready to use.

            Roll it out, you'll find it best to use a good bit of flour as the dough will likely be sticky. And as it's a wet dough it can accomodate the extra flour easily. Form according to your use.

            At this point, if prebaking refrigerate 10-20 minutes before baking. If baking filled, dock and seal the bottom with a little jam (it'll add flavor as well as keep the crust from getting soggy), fill, and refrigerate 10-20 minutes.

            Peheat the oven to 425. This allows for the heat drop when you open the oven to put in the pie. Then turn it to whateve temperature you wish. Bake on the lowest shelf. Actually I keep a pizza stone on the floor of my oven and bake on that. (If you're using a glass pie plate, put it on a sheet pan before putting on the stone to reduce the heat shock)

            Sometimes towards the end of the baking process I will raise the pie to a higher shelf if the top does not seem to be browning as much as I want.

            This technique produces a flaky crust that rivals a puff paste pastry.

            If you are planning ahead, I suggest rolling out the dough to the thickness you want for a future pie and freezing on sheet pans til solid, then use a piece of cardboard to protect it. When you want to make a second or third pie, you won't even have to roll the pastry and it will defrost for handling quickly.

            2 Replies
            1. re: saucyknave

              Gee, thanks! You DO love your crust technique... but, sadly, I don't have a food processor. But I think I'll try your crust next time I want to make a pie, just to see if it's any better than mine/Bittman's.

              1. re: Katerina

                I'm not claiming it's the best, just the easiest :)

                Without a processor you'd lose much of the "easy" part. With one, it's practically no time to "cut in" the butter, add the liquid. Though my observation about the slightly higher amount of water would probably still hold.

                My tips for the refrigeration both before and after forming the pie until baking, the pizza stone, higher preheating and for a longer time, etc. might still help, though. I find it makes for a crisper undercrust. The drawback to my way of baking tarts is that you need to keep an careful eye on them.

                If you don't have a pizza stone, you could get the same effect with less espense by buying unglazed quarry tiles. I find leaving the stone on the bottom smooths out the heat in my gas oven. I cover it with foil to protect it against dripping, etc. At first I removed it when using it, but now I don't bother and it seems to work as well.