Growing up, my mom loved fruit and always kept a variety in the house which she encouraged my brothers and I to eat. However, one fruit that was conspicuously absent was the apple. It was not the taste she didn’t like. Rather it was the sound of someone biting into one that bothered her. It was like fingernails on chalkboard and the sound literally gave her goosebumps and sent chills up her spine.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t inherit this aversion as I do like to eat crunchy fresh apples, especially with peanut butter or caramel. I do, however, prefer them cooked, in pies, tarts, or in this delicious apple crisp. The sweet-tart flavor of the apples pair very well with the warm spices and the crunchy, buttery oatmeal and walnut topping. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, slowly melting and mixing with the topping and apples, I can’t think of anything better.
Perhaps I should bake this for my mom. Even she might change her mind about apples.
Apple Crisp with Oatmeal Walnut Streusel Topping
Yields 6 servings
4 apples (I used two Granny Smiths and two Honeycrisp apples)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or vanilla sugar*
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Note: To make vanilla sugar, split a vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into 2 cups of sugar and stir to combine thoroughly. Cut the pod in half and add to the sugar as well. Vanilla sugar may be stored indefinitely in an airtight container. Replenish with more sugar or additional vanilla beans as necessary. If using vanilla sugar, omit vanilla extract. (Thanks to friend and reader Olypaw for the suggestion/idea!)
For the Topping
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of cloves
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/2-inch wedges and place in a bowl. Pour in lemon juice and toss to prevent browning. Add granulated sugar, cinnamon, flour, and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Transfer to a buttered 8-inch by 8-inch square or oval baking pan. Scatter the walnuts and pieces of butter on top of the apples.
To make the topping, combine the oats, brown sugar, nuts, flour, salt, and spices. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender, a fork, or two knives. Spread the topping evenly over the apples. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the apples are bubbling, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
Spoon warm apple crisp into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream.
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