Posted on October 2 2011

Recipe #2: Apple Crisp

The most perfect fall days in my memory revolve around trips to cider mills.  Doughnuts, apple picking, cider, doughnuts, hay rides, doughnuts…  A friend recently mentioned hanging doughnuts from a tree so I could pick them and my heart skipped a beat.  

Next on the Tartine cookbook docket:  apple crisp.  I absolutely love how much Elisabeth Prueitt and her husband focus on seasonal baking and eating locally as you read through the narrative-style recipes and the brief snippets of background stories you find stylishly tucked away between each section.  There are a handful of apple-based pastries and confections in this cookbook, and I couldn’t be more exited to start this project during the fall season.  After kicking this whole project off with the foreign-marathon-kitchen-experience of croissants, perusing the apple crisp recipe yesterday was like coming home. 

Our trip to the cider mill today:

This is our little guy and he loves apples.  Clearly.

This lovely cookbook encouraged the at-home baker to mix up the apple variety, so I was on the hunt for McIntosh, Gala, and Golden Delicious on this outing.  While the orchard had a train, pony rides and tasty doughnuts (!!!), they had none of the apples I was looking for.  I tend to be a strict follower of recipes, so my obedient self was spinning a bit when I found this out.  After some not-exactly-helpful help, I ended up with two varieties:  Yellow Delicious and Empire.  I’ve made apple crisps a few times before, but it’s never crossed my mind to use more than one kind of apple.  The not-so-helpful fellow also insisted I ditch whatever recipe I was using to use his fool-proof recipe.  No thank you, kind sir.

I was so excited to use my apple corer again.  I bought it a few years ago at Apple Hill, which is a cluster of orchards near Sacramento, CA.  Amazing place!

The joy came to a halt when it stopped working smoothly, turning this yellow delicious into…

At this point, I’d successfully speed-raced through a little over half of the three pounds of the apples when that corer bailed on me.  Cutting and peeling a handful of apples wasn’t bad.  I actually like how they turned out better by using a knife and some elbow grease – they were sturdier and were like snowflakes; they each had their own shape.  Mixing the size up a bit really helped the final product have good balance of texture.  Who wants a mushy apple crisp?  Not I!

The apples made their way into the baking dish (my new Emile Henry ceramic baking dish!  It’s yellow!), and they were ready for the topping.  If you look closely, you’ll see about one quarter of the apples still have skin.  Like I’ve mentioned, I’ve made apple crisps before, but I’ve never left the skin on.  (This doesn’t work with apples with tough skin that have been stored for some time.)  It seemed weird leaving the skin on, but I went with it. 

The topping was the easiest part!  Ready for the oven!

And, the finished product!  I wish I could convey the seriously amazing aroma of apples and cinnamon that was floating through the house for just about an hour and a half while it was baking away.  Our little Jack came into the kitchen on more than one occasion, inhaling deeply, and saying, “MMMMMMmmmm!!!”  My thoughts exactly.

The moral to this apple crisp story (that I will repeat every single fall for the rest of my life): leave some skin on those slices, slightly vary the size of the slices, and be sure to have different types of apples in order to incorporate soft and crisp textures as well as the sweet and tart flavors that different apples bring to the table.  We tasted this apple crisp and stared at each other in amazement.  Complete magic and a flavor-filled crisp experience like we’ve never had before.  So good!  And, I’m 2/2 so far! 

Next up: Caramel apples!!!

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