foodCooking

Classic comfort recipe: Recreating Grandma’s Apple Crisp

We took a modern recipe and adapted it to reflect the flavors we remember.

Turning my attention to something sweet as I seek just the right recipes that provide comfort from the kitchen, I got lost in the treasure trove of dessert options in my grandmother’s recipe box, telling us what kind of treats that soothed them during difficult war years.

The moment I asked one of my sisters which family favorite she misses most, which one I should try to makeover as I update these oldies-but-goodies, she urged me to find our grandmother’s recipe for Apple Crisp. No question, it was one of the happiest dishes from our childhood, and one we haven’t come across in a long time.

“The only ones I can find online call for oatmeal in the topping, and that is not how it’s supposed to be made!” my sister insisted.

She’s right, I don’t remember oatmeal ever being in the Apple Crisp topper we enjoyed as kids. While the recipe wasn’t in my grandmother’s personal stash of handwritten notes and newspaper clippings, I found recipes that seemed similar in some of her very old cookbooks.

The closest I could find was a Brown Betty recipe in a 1920s book. It called for breadcrumbs, chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon and butter, all layered in a deep dish. I played with the recipe to resemble the one in our collective family memory, keeping apples on the bottom, crowned with the topping. My updates included tossing the chopped apples (I used Gala, but Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Jonagold, or Honeycrisp would be just fine) in lemon juice, which adds a vibrant pop to the bite.

For some depth, I also added a little ground nutmeg and vanilla extract to the topping mixture, and I finished the crisp with chopped pecans — but you could use chopped pistachios or even pepitas to wonderful effect. Nuts weren’t on our childhood Apple Crisp (with apologies to my sister, a purist), but I love the added texture and flavor, especially if you serve ice cream over the hot dessert. Indulgent? Sure. But if we don’t treat ourselves to something special now, then when?

June Naylor's Apple Crisp
June Naylor's Apple Crisp(June Naylor)

Apple Crisp

6 cups chopped apples (about 6 medium apples)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecan pieces, optional

Heat oven to 350 F. Place chopped apples in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg over apples, mixing well to evenly distribute. Transfer mixture to a buttered 9-inch by 12-inch casserole dish.

In a bowl, mix butter, sugar, flour and vanilla extract with a fork till combined. Spoon atop apple mixture in casserole dish. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until top is browned and edges are bubbling. (If adding pecans, sprinkle pecan pieces on top after 35 minutes of baking, then bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.)

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes 6-8 servings.

SOURCE: June Naylor

Food writer and cookbook author June Naylor lives in Fort Worth.

June Naylor's Apple Crisp
June Naylor's Apple Crisp(June Naylor)
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