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Apple Crisp

Hi! I'm looking for a great apple crisp recipe. I recently tried one from an America's Test Kitchen cookbook that was OK, but not quite what I was looking for. The recipe used 1/2 Granny Smith and 1/2 McIntosh apples as well as lemon juice and lemon zest in the filling. It turned out too tart for my liking. I don't mind a sweet-tart dessert, but this was too much for me. I have done a search for other recipes. The amount of sugar varies widely, as do the ingredients in the topping. The America's Test Kitchen recipe used nuts in the topping, which I really liked. I did wish the topping was more substantial, perhaps with oatmeal or some flour to make it more crunchy. The last element in the recipe that I thought might be improved is the thickness of the "sauce" in the filling that resutls from baking the apples. There was no flour in the recipe, which surprised me. In summary, I'm looking for a more sweet, less tart recipe with a substantial topping and a thicker saucey element. I do quite like to bake, but I'm not experienced with fruit desserts, so I'm not sure how to adjust the recipe to suit my needs. Thanks for your advice!

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  1. try:

    using cornstarch or flour tossed with the fruit. Also, toss the fruit with dark brown sugar and cinnamon/spices.

    Go ahead and cut in oatmeal into the "crisp" part - I use just oatmeal, nuts, brown sugar, my spices, and butter (cut in until it all forms a "crumble" ).. so mine is more of a crumble.. but it browns up nicely and has great flavor.

    Also -- try making it with a mixture of fresh chunked pears (not slices -- I use mouth sized chunks of fruit) and berries.

    3 Replies
    1. re: karmalaw

      So you don't use any flour in your crumble? And tossing the fruit in cornstarch is a good idea. I tried making a gluten-free apple crisp last month using Bob's Red Mill baking flour mix. It didn't come out as well as I'd have liked. I need to get some GF oats and try your flourless method.

      1. re: Agent Orange

        I cook gluten-free -- but can tolerate GF oats -- so that's why I use no flour. Comes out very tasty. If I use flour rather than cornstarch to thicken things, I use a GF flour.

        My GF crisp (I worked out the recipe on my own from my prior years of baking), comes out VERY well. I use a variety of different fruits and berries for it -- whatever is fresh and ripe. Although I will sometimes "cheat" with frozen blackberries tossed in.

        Oh -- don't forget to add a dash of salt when you are preparing the fruit -- it "brings out" the flavor.

      2. re: karmalaw

        If you use flour, use a Wondra-type flour.

        And tapioca starch is also a good bet in acid-fruit desserts.

      3. The type of apple you use will affect tartness. I don't know where you live, but if Jonagolds or golden delicious are available, they are sweeter apples and make a good pie, so I assume they would make a good crisp as well. I used to use walnuts in the topping, but tried pecans and like those better. Walnuts are more bitter than pecans.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PAO

          I don't use any thickener in my apple or pear crisps because I love the juice!

          I throw everything but the kitchen sink into my crisp toppings, including butter, oatmeal, pecans, walnuts, almonds (and any other nuts, sometimes including pistachios and hazelnuts) I have on hand that strike my fancy), brown sugar and sometimes those wide coconut strips which I break up.

        2. Here's one of my favorite apple crumble recipes....


          if you use sweeter apples (other than the granny smiths recommended) you'll get a sweeter apple crisp.

          1. I agree that cornstarch works. My crumble topping is typical lots of butter, brown sugar, oatmeal, chopped almonds and a bit of vanilla extract almond extract,as well as freshly ground gingerroot. It's amazing the flavours these last two ingredients bring out in the fruit without being overpowering at all.
            I love crisps because you don't need a recipe... it's practically like cooking. Honey with the apples might help, too.

            1. Leave out the lemon. ATK/CI and Martha Stewart fruit recipes always seem to want to add it and to my palate, even a tiny amount overwhelms the main fruit ingredients. So now I don't put lemon in a dessert unless that's the main ingredient.

              I agree with the Granny/McIntosh combo. Because of their tartness, they pack a lot more flavor than the oft-used Golden Delicious and other readily-available supermarket apples. If you add more white, or brown, sugar, or better yet, maple syrup, you'll get a nice complex sweet/tart dessert. Most crisp toppings do include oatmeal and recipes abound. If you have stale cookies or cereal in complementary flavors, you can crush them and toss 'em in too. If you have caramel or butterscotch baking chips on hand, those can go into the topping or filling.

              I'd recommend that on your next attempt, you use restraint in adding additional sweetness. Buy a jar of caramel or butterscotch topping, or make some, and have it on hand as a back-up, topping the crisp with a drizzle if it's not sweet enough for you.

              You can thicken with flour, cornstarch, or tapioca. I like the tapioca, which I grind in the food processor or spice grinder so less is needed and it doesn't gel as much.

              1. If you want a more syrupy thicker sauce when your apples cook use brown sugar. You can use all brown sugar if you like but I usually do about half and half white and brown.

                For the topping I use very cold butter cut into small cubes, half flour, half oats, white sugar, and a pinch of salt. Keep mashing with a fork and tasting for sweetness adding sugar if needed until small pearls form.

                As for the apple variety, I use organic fiji's from the local farmers market. I like using lemon in the filling which helps balance the sweetness of the apples. I use finely grated lemon zest and maybe tablespoon or so of lemon juice, just a little squeeze.

                1. Thanks for the great advice. It looks like next time I make the recipe I will leave out the lemon juice entirely. I will also try tossing some cornstartch with the fruit to improve the thickness. The idea of adding pears intrigues me. I enjoy pears more than apples. Maybe I should have made a pear crisp. I will also definitely add oatmeal to the topping recipe. I do have a question about that. How do I know if I have added enough additional butter to moisten the oatmeal? I'm afraid of adding too much and getting a greasy product. Thanks again. This is great advice!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: restless

                    Here's a typical recipe for fruit crisp topping. It's a good idea to double or triple the amounts and keep in the fridge or freezer. You can decide on the fruit-to-topping ratio; just keep an eye on things since baking time will vary a little depending on dimensions of the pan and depth of fruit. The recipes I have call for 7c or 1-1/2 lbs fruit. Since I like the syrupy juices that brown around the rim, I like to bake crisps in individual ramekins or custard cups.

                    1/2 cup flour and 1 stick cold butter, cut in 8 pieces: pulse in food processor or cut together with pastry blender. Mix in 1/2 cup brown or white sugar, or combination, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1c old-fashioned rolled oats. This particular one doesn't call for nuts but I'd feel free to add 1/2 cup. Nuts have their own oil and don't need more; maybe another tsp of sugar. Looking at several recipes I see one with less oatmeal, less butter, and more flour. Some have salt. Temps from 375-425, all around 35-40 minutes.

                  2. http://www.ediblejersey.com/content/p...

                    This is a simple and delicious apple crisp from Edible Jersey magazine.
                    You can "doctor" it up with many of the fabulous suggestions posted here
                    but if you just want plain & good, this is it.

                    1. Apple Crisp Recipe

                      * 7 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
                      * 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
                      * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
                      * 1 cup brown sugar
                      * 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                      * 1 cup rolled oats
                      * 1/2 cup butter, room temperature


                      1 Preheat oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, and vanilla. Toss to combine.

                      2 Layer sliced apples in a 9 x 12-inch (or approximately the same size) baking pan.

                      3 Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and oatmeal in a bowl. Cut in the butter. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples.

                      4 Bake 45 minutes or until topping looks crunchy and apples are tender.

                      1. If Jonagolds are available to you, I'd run with those with maybe one Granny Smith or medium Pippin for just a touch of tart. Winesap would also work well. This is the recipe I use, from my GF Dinnie Pringle, who calls it Apple Pudding. But trust me, it's a crisp and it's great.

                        1 quart apples of choice, peeled, cored, sliced; held in acidulated water as you go.
                        1 scant tsp. lemon juice
                        1 tsp. good cinnamon (she uses Saigon)
                        1/2 tsp. cardamom
                        1/4 tsp. 5-spice powder
                        1/3 c. flour
                        1/4 scant tsp. salt
                        1/4 c. sugar; raw, brown, demerara, white, whatever you've got.

                        Toss all ingredients together and pour into a buttered baking dish, either a 2-quart round casserole or an 8x12x2. Preheat oven to 400 while you:
                        Blend 1 c. sugar into 3/4 c. flour, and work in 6 Tb. cold diced butter until no large lumps remain; about the size of small peas is right. Blend in 1/2 c. rough-chopped nuts and a dash of salt, and sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake 30-40 minutes, until bubbling and well-browned. Delicious served with unsweetened whipped cream with a touch of almond or vanilla flavoring.