The Very Best Apple Crisp Ever!

Around here, I’ll admit, apple pie takes first place when it comes to apple desserts.  Running a close second, though, is the Very Best Apple Crisp Ever.

I’ve made apple crisp since I was a small girl, helping my mother in the kitchen.  We lived on a farm with an old “Snow Apple” tree in the back yard, and I can vividly remember cutting out brown spots and peeling those crisp yellow apples with the white, white flesh. That tree is long gone, and those apples are very hard to find these days.  I use Cortlands for apple crisp, now—they have bright white flesh, too, and are almost as good as the Snow Apples I remember from childhood.

I don’t use my mother’s recipe for apple crisp, though.  I’ve taken two or three recipes, added a few things, switched around a few more, and the result … well, really is the Very Best Apple Crisp Ever.  At least…my family thinks so…and my mother uses MY recipe!

This weekend is supposed to be cool and crisp here in Western New York—very “fallish”.  Why not pick up some apples, assemble your ingredients, and see if your family won’t agree with mine?  And oh! does it make the kitchen smell good!

Here’s the recipe:

 

THE VERY BEST APPLE CRISP EVER

 

5 cups sliced apples                                                             1 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbs. lemon juice                                                            1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup water                                                                        ½ tsp. nutmeg

½ cup flour                                                                        ¼ tsp. salt

½ cup oatmeal                                                                        ½ cup butter, softened

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice apples into a 9”x 9” pan or a deep pie plate.  Toss with lemon juice and water.

 In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, sugar, spices and salt.  Mix to blend.  Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mix in the walnuts.  Spread over apples, covering right to the edge.  Do not pack down.

 Bake about 45 minutes, or until topping is browned and apples test soft.

Try to wait until this has cooled a little before eating!  Add vanilla ice cream if you must.

 

This post shared with: Fresh Eggs Daily and Our Little Coop

Buy Locally–A Few Thoughts About Apples

I love apples!

Courtesy of New York Apple Association
© New York Apple Association

September is traditionally the month that we drive to the orchards with our bags, boxes and baskets and fill them to the top with the early apples that are ripening.  A second trip to pick late apples on crisp October days when the geese are flying south usually gives us enough varieties for cooking, freezing, saucing and eating.

This year’s crop of New York State apples is very small—most of the U-Pick places near here are not opening.  The unseasonably warm weather in early spring, followed by cold weather at the time the apple trees were blossoming and setting fruit resulted in a very poor crop.

New York State ranks number two in the production of apples in the United States—an average of 25 million bushels of apples annually.  According to the New York Apple Association, apples are the second most valuable fruit in the country (oranges are first).

Gala apples

At the Farmers’ Markets here this year, the first local apples I’ve found are Galas and McIntosh.  Galas are very crisp and sweet; they have a somewhat yellow flesh with a thin skin, so they are perfect for snacking.

 

McIntosh apples tend to be a bit tart and extremely juicy.  These are the apples you can polish on your sleeve, bite into and have juice running right down your arm! A McIntosh apple has very white flesh, so they

McIntosh apples

are great for salads.

 

 

My favorite all-round apple is the Cortland. These apples are wonderful for making pies, apple crisp, salads—partly because they don’t turn brown as quickly as other apples.  Cortlands

Cortland apple Courtesy of New York Apple Association
© New York Apple Association

are juicy and sweet with just a hint of tartness.  They were developed right in New York State in 1898 at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, on Seneca Lake.

 

 

One of the best pie apples is the Northern Spy, also developed in New York State, near another Finger Lake: Canandaigua.  These very tart apples are best right at the end of the season—pies made with fresh Northern Spies are perfect for Thanksgiving.  Other New York State apples are Macoun, Acey Mac and JonaMac, Jonagold and of course, Empire, named for the Empire State!

 

 

 

Read more about apples from New York State here—you may even find a place that will let you pick your own!

What’s your favorite apple?

Shop locally, buy from the farmer or vendor you know!

 

This post is shared here: Frugally Sustainable

Harvest Apple-Cranberry Pie!

This is the time of year when fresh cranberries and apples are in the market.  It’s also the time of year when PIE is featured on our dessert table fairly often.

I like to hide an extra bag or two of whole cranberries in the freezer, so when it’s time to make this family favorite, I’m prepared.  I’ve been to the local Farmers’ Market and purchased locally grown “Gala” apples.  Gala apples are a bit sweeter than some varieties, so I use a little less sugar than I might if I were using a more tart apple.

First I mix sugar, cornstarch, apple juice and cranberries in a saucepan.  Fresh or frozen cranberries work equally well.  This mixture is cooked and stirred over medium heat until it thickens and most of the liquid is absorbed.  This can take up to 20 minutes, and then I set it aside to cool while I make the pie crusts.

 

 

 

 

In a medium-sized bowl, I combine the dry ingredients with the shortening. 

 

 

 

When the mixture resembles small crumbs,

 

I mix in ice water, one tablespoon at a time.

 

 

When the dough just begins to stick together, I form it into two balls and roll them out, one at a time, on waxed paper that’s lightly covered with flour. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I drape the first crust over the bottom of my pie pan, preheat the oven to 425, and roll out the top crust.

Now, I peel and chunk the apples. Gala apples brown quickly after they are peeled, so I toss them with lemon juice.

 

Brown sugar and spices are mixed through the apples and the cooled cranberry mixture is gently mixed in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This whole beautiful combination is poured into the prepared pan, covered with the waiting top crust and sealed.  I like to “flute” the edges.  I make some slits in the top for the steam to escape, brush milk all over the top crust, sprinkle some sugar on it and bake it for 10 minutes. 

 When the 10 minute buzzer goes off, I lower the heat to 350 and bake the pie for another 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.

It’s hard to wait until this pie cools to slice into it, but if you can wait a couple of hours, it cuts nicely.  It’s supposed to keep on the kitchen counter—no need to refrigerate—but I’ve never been able to test this, somehow it disappears within a few hours!

The combination of sweet and tart is just right in this pie – if you must, add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top—but I like it right from the pan to my plate!

 

 

 

 

The recipe:

APPLE CRANBERRY PIE

 

1 cup white sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup apple juice

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon lemon juice

4 cups peeled apples, cut into chunks

1 teaspoon milk

1 teaspoon white sugar

pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)

Preheat oven to 425. Mix white sugar, cornstarch and apple juice and cranberries in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and most of liquid is absorbed and it begins to thicken, stirring often.  Cool.

Toss apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice in large bowl to blend.

Gently combine cranberry mixture with apple mixture.

Pour into prepared pastry lined pan. Cover with top crust which has vents cut in it.  Seal and flute edges. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake 50 minutes longer or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.  Cool.

 

                                    MY FAVORITE PIE CRUST

For 9 inch two-crust pie:

2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup shortening

½ teaspoon salt

ICE water –2 or 3 tablespoons

Measure flour and salt into large bowl. Add shortening and cut into flour mixture with pastry blender (or fork) until mixture resembles small crumbs.  Add ice water one tablespoon at a time just until dough can be handled.  Too much water and the dough will be sticky, too little and it will break into pieces when you try to roll it out. Form into 2 balls, place on lightly floured waxed paper, flatten and roll into circle that will fit in pie pan.  Drape pie crust over bottom of pie pan, add filling, cover with top crust.  Flute and seal.

 

 

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