Cinnamony apple crisp

One of my staple easy desserts: soft apples, spiced with cinnamon, topped with sweet buttery crumble. Adapted from Craig Claiborne’s classic New York Times Cookbook.

Filling ingredients

  • 6 cups apples, peeled and sliced (about 6 large)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Topping ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; omit salt if using salted butter)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place apple slices in 8″x8″ square baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice (if using). Stir briefly to mix in.
  3. Add flour, sugar and salt (if using unsalted butter) to a mixing bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and add to bowl. Blend the cold butter into the dry ingredients until mixture looks like coarse crumbs (use a fork, pastry cutter or two knives, a few pulses in a food processor, or your fingers to rub bits of butter in repeatedly, releasing quickly to keep the butter cold). Some lumps are fine, but you should not have any chunks of butter left. Mix in nuts, if using.
  4. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the filling in the baking dish. Bake for about 45 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
  5. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.

Notes

  • I usually use Golden Delicious apples for baking, but I like my baked apples soft and sweet. Granny Smith are traditional baking apples, firmer and more tart. A mix of apples is nice, to bring in different flavors and textures.
  • Don’t fuss too much about the slicing of the apples – aside from having pieces thin enough to cook through, the size and uniformity is not important. Some variation in size will give a welcome variation in texture of the cooked apples, with smaller pieces breaking down and larger pieces maintaining their shape.
  • To make ahead, prepare filling and topping separately. Refrigerate topping until ready to cook. Use spoon or fingers to loosen topping (it may have clumped a bit in fridge) and sprinkle on top of filling just before baking.
  • For 9″x13″ baking dish – Filling ingredients: 9 cups apples, 3/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Topping ingredients: 12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cups sugar, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
  • Try apple-pear, or apple-cranberry (apple-cranberry will need extra sugar in the filling).
  • If your fruit is particularly juicy, mix in a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch with the filling. This will thicken the juices during cooking.
  • The crisp will work in a smaller or larger baking dish – a larger dish will result in a thinner crisp; smaller dish will make a thicker one. If your baking pan is very full, you may want put a rimmed baking sheet underneath to catch any sticky juice that bubbles over during cooking.
  • You can bake at 375 degrees F if you are in a hurry, shortening cooking time to about 35 minutes.

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