Oct 11, 2010

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

We chose Ina Garten’s Old Fashioned Apple Crisp, which can be found here hereIna is known for her simple and seasonal flavors; this dish is no exception.

This is the epitome of a fall dessert – the aroma of baked apples and cinnamon wafting through the house is amazing; just being able to smell it while it bakes is well worth the effort of peeling, coring, and chopping the apples. A key factor in this dessert is the use of orange zest – it provides a subtle aftertaste that sticks to the palate, using any more than the required amount would be too much, yet leaving it out would be a shame. You may want to cut the recipe in half, it serves 10; unless you have a large family or party to serve it for there will be lots leftover. It’s simple to prepare, the only tedious aspect is peeling, coring and chopping all the apples. Aside from the quantity of apples you’re using, most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry already. We chose to serve the crumble with various toppings; Monica made a delicious spiced whipped cream from scratch and Caitlin served hers a la mode. Whichever topping you’re using will compliment this fall dessert wonderfully.  

Caitlin: Making this dessert brought me back to my childhood– baked apples with cinnamon was something that my mom used to make for us in the fall. When I was a kid the minute I smelled the baked apples coming out of the kitchen, I would impatiently stalk the oven. Looking back it was such a simple dessert to make but it seemed like such a treat when we were young. This dessert is no different, I thought it was easy to prepare and I already had the ingredients in my kitchen. Cutting the recipe in half was a key factor in it’s simplicity - peeling, coring, and cutting 5 lbs of apples can be overwhelming, but 2 ½ really isn’t that bad. I had just taken my son to the apple orchard a few days prior, so I had plenty of freshly picked jonagold and gala apples – and not the huge shiny ones you find in the grocery store but regular sized apples of various colors that had a slightly dull finish – just as nature intended.
I decided to serve the apple crumble with vanilla ice cream simply for the fact that my 7 year old loves ice cream (specifically vanilla) and we had just walked a 5K in Susan G Komen’s Race for the Cure in pouring rain. He was a trooper the entire time and I wanted to reward him with something I know he loves.

Monica: According to the recipe, it states that it takes 20 minutes to prepare, however, it took more like 40 minutes to prep everything and get it into the oven.  The ingredients were fairly simple.  The one thing that stood out to me was the use of 1 pound of butter in the topping mixture.  There was no possible way I could get myself to do that. I decided to cut the butter in half and I crossed my fingers that everything would come out okay, since I didn’t cut the other ingredients of the topping mixture in half.  I know when baking, precision is key; thankfully omitting extra sticks of butter didn’t alter the delicious outcome.  The apples were sweet and a bit tangy and they baked so well with the cinnamon spice. I didn’t have ground nutmeg, so I decided to use Pumpkin Pie spice (which is basically a blend of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon peel).  It tasted delicious. I like a bit more cinnamon, so I added an extra teaspoon to my apple mix. 
The recipe was easy, just a bit time consuming. I would definitely make it again. You could easily cut the recipe in half and serve five or six.  If you like apple desserts and you like leftovers, then make the entire quantity. It tastes best warm.  I served mine with a homemade, spiced vanilla whipped cream.  Just a little dollop, that’s all you need.

Apple Layer
5 pounds of apples
Grated zest of one orange
Grated zest of one lemon
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
½ pound cold butter, diced

*Spiced Whipped Cream (if using)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp cinnamon (more if you like)
1 tsp good quality vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a baking dish. If cutting this recipe in half, use a 2 qt (8x11) dish; if making the whole recipe use a 3 qt (9x14) dish.

Peel, cut and core the apples. We sliced the wedges into medium sized portions. The size will depend on your preference. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar and spices then pour into the baking dish.

Prepare the topping. Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and cold butter. You can use a mixer fitted with a paddle, or use your hands and combine the ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Scatter over the apples, making sure to put the topping in between the apple pieces.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the topping is browned and the apples are bubbly.

*Spiced Whipped Cream
Beat heavy cream until thick.  Beat in sugar and add vanilla until stiff.  Add cinnamon and stir.

Caitlin's Version

Monica's VersionVariations
You can top the dessert with whipped cream or serve it a la mode.

You can cut the recipe in half; it served a family of three with plenty left over.

You can reduce the amount of butter and it doesn’t take away from the flavor.

A nice variation to serving this dish would be to use ramekins and make individualized portions. Any left over can be used in a regular pie dish.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a dessert that’s served at night – it would make a great brunch dish, or a weekend after-breakfast treat.

This might even be a good edition to a Thanksgiving menu – it serves a lot, and it tastes like Fall.

Drink of Choice
Caitlin: A strong bold flavored coffee goes great with the sweet apples and cinnamon.
Monica: I was hoping to bake this on a cool Fall day, however, I live in the Los Angeles area and it was sunny and 85 degrees.  I would suggest hot apple cider, however, I enjoyed mine with an iced Americano.

Caitlin: I chose something mellow simply because my family was taking a nap while I was preparing this. I chose a mix of Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura – both have a sweet and understated sound combined with the right amount of satirical lyrics. It’s great sing along music when you can’t be too loud.
Monica: Sam Cooke’s greatest hits… the warmth of his voice along with the warmth of the dessert definitely compliment each other.

A Recipe to Remember?
Definitely, this is a fall favorite.


  1. I just made this last night with the last of the apple harvest from our backyard tree. Damaris said "Let's make a pie!", but a crisp is much less work and equally tasty. Great idea!