Have you always wondered what the difference is between a crisp and a crumble?
Wonder no more! The difference is in – get this – the oats. Traditionally, crisps would contain oats, but crumbles would not. Although the names are now used interchangeably, in the interest of historical accuracy we are sticking with crisp.
Plus, it just sounds better. “Crumble” is rarely a word used to describe a good situation.
Semantics aside, there is no debate over the deliciousness of this quintessentially fall dessert. Tender, juicy apples relaxing under a sweet, crunchy, nutty, oat-y, cinnamon-scented topping. It’s comfort food at the highest level. And, you know that saying “Easy as Pie”? Well, this is easier.
It’s also, quite possibly, the best apple crisp you will have this season.
The crowning glory of this dessert is, undoubtedly, the topping. Not only is it ridiculously good, you won’t believe how easy it is to make. Instead of messing around with cutting in cold butter, we stir in melted butter and then chill the mixture. In the time it takes you to get your filling prepared, your topping will be firmed up and ready to scatter over the top.
There’s something ethereal that happens to oats when bathed in butter and sugar and baked to a golden brown. We take things a step further by adding nuts, which add another level of flavor and crunch. If you’re not feeling especially nutty, replace them with an extra half-cup of – you guessed it – rolled oats. Funny how the answer is always oats…
Right now, there should be no shortage of apples to use in your crisp. Since this dessert is all about the contrasting textures, we recommend mixing up your apples, too. Try combining sweeter baking apples, like Gala, with a tarter, firmer variety, such as Granny Smith. As you peel and slice your apples, toss them with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning prematurely.
We toss our peeled and sliced apples with just enough brown sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and a spoonful of cornstarch. Be sure to taste your apples. If they are especially tart, add an extra spoonful of sugar.
And, a final note, we think apple crisp should always be served warm with vanilla ice cream. Unless, of course, you’re eating it cold for breakfast.
For the topping:
For the filling:
- 6 cups apples chopped, peeled (1500 ml)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice fresh (15 ml)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar packed (80 ml)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch (15 ml)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (5 ml)
- pinch nutmeg freshly grated
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly butter a 3-quart baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together rolled oats, oat flour, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add melted butter, stirring until mixture is crumbly. Refrigerate until firm (about 15 minutes.)
- In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the apples.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until filling is bubbly, apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Let crisp rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.