A is for Apple

Fall is upon us here in the great northern state of Minnesota.  Most of the trees are bare and even on sunny days, there is a crispness and a coolness that signals to us unlucky inhabitants of this state that winter is coming.  Winter in Minnesota.  Sigh.  It is truly a time that tries men’s (and women’s) souls.

So in preparation for the sad days to come, we try to maximize the autumn days we have left.  Trips to pumpkin patches, fall festivals, corn mazes.  And of course, the apple orchard.  Everyone has their favorite.  The Reicherts are particularly fond of Minnetonka Orchards.  It was the first orchard I visited when I was a childless and carefree (childless and carefree…now that’s redundant!) grad student back in 1997 and it always gives me one of those “circle of life” feelings to take our girls there.  Since my first trip, I’ve seen the orchard add more and more attractions to lure in visitors, but of course, the real draw is the apples.  Sarah and Katie love to pick their own, scouring the trees for just the perfect ones.  Taste testing is of utmost importance and it seems the girls eat as many as they pick.

Once we bring our bounty home, the girls always beg me to bake a pie.  Baking a pie is one of those skills I have yet to master.  That and parallel parking.  So instead, we settle for this delicious Cinnamon Apple Crisp.  It is a simple, almost full proof recipe and I feel like Betty Crocker (if she had been a real person and Korean) when the aroma of the cinnamon, baked apples, and sugary crust fill our home.

REICHERT RATING:  Three thumbs up from Chris, me, and Sarah.  Katie is of a less refined palate and declared, “I don’t like this thing.”  That’s ok…more for me!

THE “BUT I WANT TO HELP” QUOTIENT:  The girls loved making the crumbly crust of the crisp…maybe a little too much.  As Sarah and Katie were literally elbow deep mashing up the ingredients, I tried not to think of all the places their little fingers had been that day.  Up their nose was probably the cleanest of the possibilities.  Surely the heat from the oven kills any germs, right?

And the best part for the girls, licking off sugar, flour, and butter from their grubby little fingers, hands, and elbows.

I wanted to take a picture of the final product but we dug into too fast.  Here’s a picture of it half scooped out of the pan.

 And of course, you gotta eat it with ice cream:

The recipe is one that I modified from epicurious.  The beauty of this one is that you can make the recipe as is or use it as a starting point to change it however you wish.  Rolled oats in the topping or maybe throw in some cranberries?  Drizzle some caramel on top?  Add some nutmeg, cloves, or all spice?  Hard to go wrong with this one!

CINNAMON APPLE CRISP

1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like your desserts and the sweetness of your apples)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

3-4 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I cut mine into 8ths, any thinner and it gets too mushy for me)

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in large bowl. Add apples and toss to coat. Transfer apple mixture to prepared dish.

Combine flour, sugar and butter in medium bowl. Using pastry blender or fingertips, blend ingredients until coarse meal forms. Spread flour mixture evenly over apples.

Bake crisp 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake crisp until apples are tender and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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