A few weekends ago, I took part in the wonderful New England tradition of apple picking. My friend Elizabeth and I drove out to Honey-Pot Hill Orchards in Stowe, where there are rows upon rows of Cortlands, Macintoshes, Honey Crisps, and even pears. When you enter the orchard, you have to choose the size of the bag you’d like to pick. Faced with all the apple abundance, it seemed silly to take the small bag (4 lbs) or the medium bag (10 lbs). With Elizabeth egging me on, I took the big bag. Twenty pounds of apples.
Needless to say, twenty pounds of apples is quite a lot. After eating my fill, I made a huge pot of applesauce. Didn’t make a dent. Elizabeth swore she was making pie with all her apples, but given my propensity for messing up anything that has to do with baking, pie didn’t sound like a good idea.
So I tried making apple crisp—a dish I have loved for years, regardless of the fruit in it. The bag I picked the apples in had a recipe on it, so I tried that. It came out well, but didn’t necessarily have the proportion of crisp to fruit that I wanted. I like a good few inches of fruit under a thick layer (maybe three quarters of an inch?) of crisp.
So I experimented a little bit, to the delight of my friends and roommates. And I learned two things: 1. Crisp is ridiculously easy to make. 2. It’s nearly impossible to make a bad crisp.
Here’s the basic recipe:
Can’t-Mess-It-Up Apple Crisp (total prep time 10-12 minutes)
Ingredients: Flour, sugar, butter, apples (and/or other fruit), cinnamon and nutmeg
Take out the pan you want to make crisp in. Grease it. For a pan with a 10-inch diameter, I used about 6 apples (actually it was 5 apples and a pear, but that doesn’t really matter). Before you cut up the apples, make the crisp (otherwise the apples will brown and look unappealing).
Crisp: Cream about a cup of sugar with two-thirds of a stick of butter. Add a cup of oats and three-quarters of a cup of flour. Add dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Allspice would probably be good, too, but I don’t have that.
Chop up the apples roughly. Use a mix of apples that will get mushy (anything sweeter, like Honey Crisp and MacIntoshes), and ones that will hold their form (like Cortlands or, in fact, pears). I don’t peel them, but you can if you want. Scatter them in the pan. Put the crisp over them evenly. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. Mine takes about 45 minutes because my oven is old. Take out and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Note: Really, don’t take any of the measurements to heart. Every method I tried was tasty. Sometimes I added more flour than oats. Sometimes I used brown sugar instead of regular sugar. Sometimes I added more butter or extra sugar. (I tend to like more butter because it gets a little more crispy, but it’s really up to you.) It still was delicious.