According to the calendar, fall began last week with the equinox. According to major coffee chains and supermarkets, fall began at the start of September, when tons of pumpkin spice flavored items began appearing. (It’s actually gotten a little out of hand. I like pumpkin spice just fine, but pumpkin spice cereal? I’m expecting pumpkin spice scented toilet paper any day now).
However, according to mother nature, fall has not yet arrived, at least in the DC area. The weather has been hot and humid and not at all accommodating of my desire to wear cosy sweaters and sip hot apple cider. This is not unusual; September is basically still summer in the mid-Atlantic.
Although the weather is not cool, the delicious apple trees in the VA countryside still start offering their fruit in September. Warm weather has not stopped me from going apple picking nearly every year for the last 25 years to the same place, Stribling Orchard. I absolutely love it there: beautiful views, helpful staff, and lots of delicious apples to pick. It’s so much fun to bring a picnic and enjoy the countryside. We usually get a little sweatier than I’d like, but it’s always a great day.
Apple picking also means lots of apple baking. (Yes, this will not be the last apple recipe you see here). I may still have to run the A/C, but the smell of baking apples makes it feel like fall! This delicious and simple apple crisp is a great thing to make with your apple picking haul. The most time consuming part is prepping the apples, the rest of the recipe comes together in a snap.
The wonderful Joy the Baker describes her apple crisp recipe as “man bait” for a reason – there is something about the smell of a great crisp that makes people fall in love. You’ve been warned!
As far as I’m concerned, its impossible to consider having apple crisp anyway but warm, with a scoop of ice cream. Vanilla is the classic choice, and easy if you just want to grab a quart at the store. If you are ambitious and want to make your own ice cream, I suggest trying cinnamon or caramel swirl.
For help deciding which apples to use for this recipe, please read my “Teaspoon of Tips” post.
Best-Ever Apple Crisp
Makes about 8 servings
- 3 lbs whole apples
- juice of a lemon
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Preheat the oven to 350. Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl. Prep the apples: peel, core, and cut each into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices. As you cut, transfer the apples to the bowl and toss with the lemon juice (this prevents the apples from browning). Add the spices and granulated sugar to the sliced apples and stir to coat. Transfer apples to an 8 by 8 inch (approximately 2 quart) baking dish.
Combine the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and oats in another large bowl. Stir in butter until mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples. The dish will be full to the top but should not spill over.
Bake until crisp is golden brown and bubbling, about 55 minutes. (You can place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any mess, if you wish). Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving, with the ice cream of your choice.
Leftover crisp can be transferred to an air tight container and stored in the fridge, simply reheat individual servings in the microwave.