Friday, November 29, 2013

how to make apple crisp

if you've never done it before.

The first thing you need to know is what you're going to bake it in. Get it ready, and as you cut up your apples, put them in there. This is so you know how much cutting to do. 

Where I shop, they have a reduced produce section and I've been getting lots of apples every week. So I usually have an assortment for my apple crisp. I don't even always know what types I'm using - that shouldn't matter too much as long as you pay attention to the apples as you cut them. 

Unless you really want to, you don't need to peel them. This was a revelation to me when I realized it. I'd never leave the peels on for a pie, but a crisp is a more casual affair than a pie. So, wash your apples well, and cut them in good bite-sized pieces, removing the cores. 

I dislike pies and crisps with large chunks of fruit - it may look artsy but it's awkward to eat. And if you make them too small, the whole thing will be mushy, so pay attention. You'll get it.

When you think enough apples are in there, cut one or two more; apples cook down, but even if you don't use the extras, they will be a tasty snack for you.

 If your apples are from the reduced section, they may be less than perfect. If they're not really crisp, they may not be real juicy. Keep this in mind as you proceed. So now, if you think you have cut enough, dump them into a large bowl. You're going to add sugar and spices. Cinnamon is always important for cooked apple dishes. You could also put in some nutmeg. I added some allspice to this - there's something about allspice which I find hard to resist, at this time of year especially. How much spices depends on how big your crisp will be. A teaspoon of cinnamon won't hurt, no matter what size, but you can experiment because you'll probably be making this again.

Now, the sugar. Taste a piece or two of apple - the sweetness or tartness will determine how much you use. I like light brown sugar, although I ran out so I also used some dark. When you add sugar to fruit, the juices start to flow, and you'll see this happening. Two or three tablespoons will be enough, really. Fruit has natural sugars in it; you want it to taste natural, right? If you know you are using all tart apples, I will allow you to put in a quarter cup of sugar, but no more!  :) This is supposed to be good for you.

Now, if your apples are looking quite juicy, you may want to add a tablespoon of flour. This will prevent it from being too runny when it's done. But if the fruit is maybe a little older, it'll be less juicy and you'll be sorry about the flour - you don't want anything gummy like that stuff you get at the supermarket.

So, next dump those apples back into your pie plate or whatever you're using. This one is a heavy, red-outside and ivory-inside ceramic pie dish, and you've probably seen them at the supermarket for ten or fifteen dollars. It makes a nice big crisp. But now you have to make the topping mixture. Start melting a half stick of butter, meanwhile mixing into a smallish bowl two-thirds cup of quick-cooking oats, six tablespoons of flour, one quarter cup of brown sugar and some cinnamon if you like.

Stir it up to mix, then pour in the butter. Use your fingers to mix it thoroughly; it will "wet" your flour mixture and enable the topping to brown nicely without any floury parts. I want to say here that in most other recipes, you will see twice as much butter called for, but it isn't necessary! Half the amount is adequate, and I learned that from Cooking Light magazine, which is where I got this topping recipe that I've adapted here. If you're using a nine-inch pie plate for this, you may want to mix up half this amount.

Now, still with your fingers, sprinkle it all over the top of the fruit. When it's all there, bake it in a preheated oven set at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

You have just made yourself an apple crisp! The first of many.

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