As soon as I told my sister I was embarking on this food makeover quest I call Kitchen Comfort, 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 tried 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 recipe stash, I found recipes that seemed similar in some of her very old cookbooks. The closest I could find was a Brown Betty recipe, calling for bread crumbs, chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon and butter, compiled in layers in a deep dish. I played with the recipe but kept apples on the bottom, crowned with the topping — and it’s as close as possible to the goodness of our childhood. My tweaks 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 some pop to the bite. I also added vanilla to the topping mixture and I finished the crisp with chopped pecans. The nuts weren’t on our childhood Apple Crisp — apologies to my sister, who is a purist — but I love the added texture and flavor, especially if you serve ice cream over the hot dessert.
Serves 6 to 8
- 6 cups chopped apples (about 6 medium apples)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup pecan pieces, optional
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chopped apples in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over apples, mixing well to evenly distribute. Transfer mixture to a buttered 9-inch by 12-inch casserole dish.
In a bowl, mix butter, vanilla, brown sugar and flour 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.