Basic Apple (or other fruit) Crisp

Apple, Pear & Cranberry Crisp

Apple, Pear & Cranberry Crisp

By Cat, Feb 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

There is nothing like a fruit crisp as dessert, any time of the year; simply use whatever fruit is in season (or what you have in your root cellar):  apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, berries, or even a combination of these. I don’t recommend using canned fruit. I don’t like my crisp too sweet, as the sweetness takes away from the pleasant tartness of the fruit.

Traditional Apple Crisp is made with a flour/sugar/butter crumble topping, and this recipe uses that same type. However, there are other crumble toppings you might use, many of which are included on my blog; see Fruity Treats Menu for other toppings. See also introduction to recipe, below.

In October 2020, I tested a version using part sprouted spelt flour (or sprouted wheat pastry four), and part almond meal. I love that combo! and adding ground pecans is even better. I updated the recipe offering those different flour options, and options for sweeteners. So far I’ve only made apple crisp, but I would like to try an apple/blueberry version, next. See Testing, below.

Basic Apple (or Other Fruit) Crisp

This recipe is adapted from the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown (see Beloved Cookbooks for more about this cookbook).  The original recipe called for ¾ cup brown sugar, which you certainly could use.  But I prefer my combination of stevia and Rapadura sugar or date sugar (finely ground dried dates); see Non-Sugar Sweeteners for more about date sugar and stevia.

Feel free to experiment with:

  • Apple varieties: see Apple Info (About) under “Pies” for recommended apple varieties. My favs are Macintosh and Honeycrisp are also good (I have both trees in my yard).
  • Sweetener:
  • Spices: Cinnamon and nutmeg are classic with apples; ginger is great with berries or peaches; cardamom is excellent with apples and pears.
  • Fruit combinations.  For example, different kinds of berries work wonderfully together; or berries and peaches/nectarines.  If using apples, try using several different varieties in combination (see Fruit Crisp Tips & Ideas for more; select apples form the ‘Bake’ column of the table).  I like to use a sweet and a tart apple together.  In the fall, my apple tree provides abundant MacIntosh apples which are wonderful just by themselves, with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. You can also do a mix of apples and berries.
  • Crumble toppings: This version uses the traditional flour/sugar/butter topping, but there are several other crumble toppings you might use (see Fruit Crisp Tips & Ideas under ‘Toppings’ or Cobblers, Crisps & Shortcakes Menu for more ideas). I also include a presoak spelt & yogurt version below.
  • 2019: I tested using sprouted wheat or spelt pastry flour with chopped pecans for the topping (see Testing, below). It is my preference because sprouted grains are far more healthful for most humans, and some with gluten intolerance may be able to consume sprouted grain flour because the gluten has been altered.
  • Oct-Dec 2020, I tested adding almond meal/flour to the grain flour and pecan mix; a great combo. My first test, I replaced 1 Tbsp of sprouted flour with 1 Tbsp almond meal, and also included ground pecans; I love having the almond meal in the mix. For my third test, I replaced 2 Tbsp sprouted flour with 2 Tbsp almond meal, and included ground pecans.
  • Another nut option is gluten-free; see my Apple Crisp with Almond Meal and Pecan Topping recipe.

Ingredients & Equipment (several pan sizes):

For Deep-dish, 10″ Pie Pan, or 9″ Square Baking Pan:

For these larger pans, I’ve not yet tested and updated an increase in the crumble topping. The smaller pan version has been tested/updated for that change.

NOTE: See 6 x 8 or 5 x 7 pyrex pan versions below, for smaller recipe.

  • Fruit:
  • 4 – 6 apples, or equivalent quantity of other fruit [NOTE: if apples are extra large – 3″ to 4″ in diameter – you will need less, maybe 3 – 4]
    • Apple-Blueberry Crisp:
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Sweetener options:
  • NOTE: You may need more or less sweetener with different fruits or desired sweetness.
  • Topping (Flour & Butter Crumble)
  • Flour options:
    • 1 cup sprouted wheat pastry/spelt flour (my preference); or
    • 1 cup whole wheat pastry/spelt flour; or
    • ¾ cup sprouted flour plus ¼ cup almond meal; or
    • ½ cup sprouted flour plus ½ cup almond meal (equal amounts of each per Christmas 2020 testing using 5×7 pan size)
  • Sweetener options:
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cardamom (optional)
  • ½ cup butter
  • ⅓ – ½ cup chopped pecans or other nuts (optional, not yet tested; see my Apple-Pear Crisp with Ginger & Pecans recipe for ideas)
  • Equipment
  • pastry fork or cutter
  • deep dish 10″ pie pan, or 9″ round cake pan

For Rectangular Baking Pans, with lid: 6″x8″ (5″x7″ in parenthesis)

This version has been updated for topping ingredient amounts per 12/2/20 test.

  • Fruit:
  • 2-3 apples (1-2), or equivalent quantity of other fruit [NOTE: if apples are extra large — 3″ to 4″ in diameter — you will need less]
    • Apple-Blueberry Crisp Option: 2 (1½) large or 1½ (1¼) medium apples, and ½ (¼) cup blueberries
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • sweetener: chose from the options below  (you may need more or less sweetener with different fruits or desired sweetness):
    • scant 1 – 1½ Tbsp (2 – 3 tsp) Rapadura sugar; OR
    • 1 – 2 (1 – 1½) Tbsp date sugar; OR
    • ~ ⅛ tsp (pinch) powdered stevia extract/inulin or lactose combo (the kind you would add to a cup of coffee or tea) instead of sugar (if you want more sweetness, use regular powdered stevia extract powder, or sprinkle with a bit of sugar in addition to the stevia)
    • scant 1 – 1½ Tbsp (2 – 3 tsp) Molasses or raw local honey (not yet tested)
  • Topping (Flour & Butter Crumble)
  • Flour options, to total 8 (5-6) Tbsp flour (per 12/2/20 test);
    • 8 (5) Tbsp sprouted whole or sprouted wheat/pastry flour; or
    • 5 (3) Tbsp whole or sprouted wheat/pastry flour plus 3 (2-3) Tbsp almond meal (I use 3 Tbsp of sprouted flour and 3 Tbsp almond meal for my 5×7 pan size, per my Christmas 2020 test version).
    • Or if you prefer less crumble, see ‘Note’ just before the Method, below.
  • Sweetener options:
  • ½ (rounded ¼) tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ (⅛) tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ (pinch) tsp cardamom (optional)
  • ¼ cup (2 – 3 Tbsp) butter
  • ⅓ (¼) cup chopped pecans or other nuts (optional, not yet tested; see my Apple-Pear Crisp with Ginger & Pecans recipe for ideas)
  • Equipment
  • pastry fork or cutter
  • 6″ x 8″ (5″ x7″ ) pyrex pan with storage lid

‘* NOTE: While I prefer the amounts in my 3rd test (12/2/20), as updated above, here are the flour amounts for previous tests that used a total of 5⅓ (4) Tbsp flour for each test [note: ⅓ cup is 5⅓ Tbsp  (i.e. 5 Tbsp +1 tsp)]:

      • Original recipe: ⅓ (¼) cup sprouted or whole wheat pastry/spelt flour (sprouted is my preference); or
      • Test #1: 3⅓ Tbsp (3 Tbsp) sprouted flour plus 2 (1) Tbsp almond meal; or
      • Test #2: 2⅓ Tbsp (2 Tbsp) sprouted flour plus 3 (2) Tbsp almond meal.

Method (all sizes):

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (see my alternate option, below).  Butter pie or cake pan.
  2. Prep Fruit: Wash and core fruit; peel if desired.  Slice however you prefer, thick or thin. Keep peeled and/or sliced apple in a bath of lemon water until ready to assemble with the topping. If using berries, leave whole (you can slice strawberries); if pit/seeds are big, remove them.
  3. Toss fruit with lemon juice and sweetener until well coated, then arrange in prepared pan.
  4. Topping: Grind pecans (if using).
  5. Combine flour(s), sweetener(s) and spices; mix with fork. If using ground pecans, add 2/3 of them to the flour mix, and mix again.
  6. Cut-in butter to pea-size.  Crumble topping over fruit.
    • NOTE: if fruit mostly fills the pan, crumble as much of the topping over as you can without it spilling over, and add the remainder after fruit shrinks a bit (about 20 min in oven). It helps to place baking pan on top of a cookie sheet to catch any topping that falls off the overly-full baking pan when in oven.
  7. Bake in preheated oven about 25 minutes; press down with fork, then sprinkle remaining pecans over the crisp. Bake another 20-25 minutes until fruit is done. Remove from oven to cool.
  8. Serve with heavy or whipped cream (optional)

An alternate baking option  is to preheat oven to 375°F; use all of the pecans in the topping mix. Then bake 45-55 minutes, or until fruit is done. However, I prefer the version above.

Serving suggestions

  • Serve with fresh thick, heavy cream, Crème Fraichewhipped cream or ice cream;
  • Garnish with chopped or sliced fresh fruit of a different variety than in the crisp; my fav is to garnish the apple crisp with fresh blueberries.

Testing

  • 2/3/20, Sprouted flour option, using 6 x 8 pyrex pan with lid. Used 1 extra-large and 1 large Honeycrisp apples (the equivalent of 3-4 regular size apples) from my own tree (they are beginning to soften, so need to be used); peeled, cored and cut each into 6 sections, then sliced about ¼″ thick. Placed in lemon water until ready to use, then drained. Buttered pan; grated zest, and juiced half a lemon; tossed with apples and arranged in pan, filling it ⅔ of way to the top. Mixed topping, using ½ cup sprouted spelt flour and all other ingredients per recipe, including cardamom and pecans. Crumbled topping over apples, then into 375°F preheated oven at 6:35. Tested at 7:20; not quite done, will give it another 5 min; out at 7:25 PM, total 50 min. Result: Tasted while still warm; delicious but too sweet for me. However, after chilling in fridge overnight, it’s just right – not too sweet. The sprouted spelt flour worked well in this recipe. Comment: While this is delicious and healthful, especially when made with sprouted-grain flour, I prefer my Apple Crisp with Almond Meal and Pecan Topping because it uses almond meal instead of flour – much better for keto.
  • 7/3/20, Sprouted flour option, using 5 x 7 pyrex pan with lid. For fruit: Used 1¼ regular size Gala apples; cored with peel on, and cut into 4 sections which I sliced horizontally about ¼″ thick. Arranged in buttered pan, then sprinkled lemon juice, zest and stevia combo over apples. For topping, used ¼ cup sprouted spelt flour, 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Rapadura, and a pinch stevia extract powder, and spice mix: ¼ tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp each nutmeg and cardamom. Cut in 3 Tbsp butter, then mixed with ¼ cup chopped pecans. scattered evenly over apples, then into preheated 375ºF oven at 10:55 AM; out of oven at 11:43 AM, total 48 min. Result: Delicious – just right in sweetness for me, but others may like it sweeter. The Macintosh apples shrunk quite a bit, so next time I’ll use more
  • 10/31/20, Sprouted flour option, using 5 x 7 pyrex pan with lid. Made as before (7/3), but substituted 1 Tbsp of the flour with almond meal in the topping. I used 1 medium Macintosh and 1 medium honeycrisp. They filled the pan to the top, but I sprinkled about 2/3 of the topping over and baked 15 min, then tested to see if apples had shrunk enough to add rest of the topping. Not enuf so baked another 5 min and then sprinkled remaining topping over and baked another 25 min. Not quite done so baked another 5 min and it was done. Total baking time: 50 minutes. Result: Delicious as before, and apples only shrank less than 1/4 inch. I liked the addition of the almond meal, as it improved both texture and flavor of the topping. This is a keeper and I’ll update recipe accordingly.
  • 11/8/20, 5 x 7 Apple, Pear & Blueberry Crisp. For fruit, I used 1½ medium fresh Honeycrisp apples, ¼ Bartlett pear, and a small handful of thawed, frozen blueberries, with lemon juice/zest, Rapadura and stevia. This filled the pan within ½ inch of the top.  For topping, as for previous test, I used 3 Tbsp sprouted flour, 1 Tbsp almond meal along with ¼ cup chopped pecans, and spices as in 5×7 recipe. This time, I put all the topping on top, but it didn’t fill the pan. Bake: Placed in preheated 350°F oven at 5:45 PM, and mixed up more topping (about 1/3 of original amount): 1 Tbsp sprouted flour, 1 tsp almond meal, pinch of each spice, and cut in ½ Tbsp butter; I didn’t add more chopped pecans. Sprinkled this evenly over partially-baked crisp after it baked 20 min (at 6:05 PM), and returned to oven. Tested at 6:25; fruit is done; liquids are dark red from the berries, but the additional topping needs more time. Checked again at 5:30 PM; topping needs more time. Removed at 6:45 PM Total oven time> 1 hour; could have been less if I’d made more topping initially and sprinkled all of it over the fruit (since there was room at top for more topping). Result: Delicious combo but next time use more apple and blueberries; skip the pears. And  increase amount of topping.
  • 12/2/20, 5 x 7 Apple Crisp:  For fruit, used 2½ small Honeycrisp apples from my tree, about 2 – 2.3″ in diameter, sliced about ¼″ thick, then cut each slice into 4 quarters. Forgot to add blueberries, but there wasn’t room for them anyway. For topping: Increased amount  by 50% (from 4 to 6 total Tbsp) as: 3 Tbsp each sprouted wheat pastry flour and almond meal; and used ⅓ cup pecans, pinch stevia, 1½ Tbsp sugar, ¼ tsp cinnamon, pinch each nutmeg and cardamom; cut in 3½ Tbsp butter. Bake: Sprinkled most of the topping over (and added ground pecans to remainder, to be added later), then into oven. After 25 minutes, apples had shrunk enough to make room for the rest of the topping. Baked another 20 minutes; apples around edge are tender but ones in the middle need more time. Tested again after another 5 min: done. Total bake time: 50 min. Result: This is the best one yet; I added fresh blueberries with cream, to serve, and I think I like that better than cooking the blueberries in the crisp. Just the right amount of crumble; apples are done perfectly.
  • 12/18/20, 5 x 7 Apple Crisp: Made same as 12/2/20, but my honey crisps were a bit bigger so only needed 2. Did not add blueberries. Used a bit more ground pecans for the topping, using 2/3 of the topping – filled to top of pan; into oven at 6:20 PM. Added remainder of topping at 6:45. Checked for doneness at 7:05; apples are cooked but topping could brown a bit more. Removed from oven at 7:10 for total 50 min baking time. Result: A little sweet for my taste, but most would think it just right. Next time I’ll use only 1 Tbsp instead of 1½ Tbsp Rapadura sugar in the topping. Otherwise, excellent; apples done but not mush; nutty, crumbly topping to perfection.
  • Christmas 2020: Made as before except: (1) used a pinch of powdered stevia extract/lactose combo powder instead of all stevia sprinkled over the apples, and (2) only 1 Tbsp sugar (instead of 1½ Tbsp) in the topping. Result: Excellent! The sweetness is just right for me and allows me to taste the apples and nuts, rather than overwhelming them. But many people would prefer the more sweet version (see 12/18/20 test, above), so I include both sweetener options in the updated recipes.

Topping Variation: Yogurt-Spelt Crumble Topping (Presoaked)

This is an alternative crumble topping that presoaks the mixture overnight in yogurt (an acidic medium), which begins the process of fermentation of the grain, to make it more nutritious. I’ve not tested this because I prefer using sprouted grain flour, as it makes a quicker recipe (no overnight soak in yogurt)

I based this recipe on Yogurt Spelt Crust recipe for Fruit Kuchens (German Custard & Fruit Tart), halving the original recipe and including spices and optional nuts. If you want to add rolled oats, add them to the soaking mixture. You could also add the chopped nuts to the soaking mix, or soak & dry them separately, adding them to the flour mix just before sprinkling the crumble over the filling.

I’ve done many tests using presoaked flour for rolled crusts, but have not tested it for a crumble topping, so am not sure about the amount of butter: A crumble topping is more buttery than a regular crust. Half the Kuchen crust recipe would include ¼ cup butter total, whereas the crisp topping above calls for ½ cup butter, so some experimentation would be needed. Start with 2 Tbsp melted and 4 Tbsp cold butter, which is ⅜  cup total.

Ingredients & Equipment

Method for Pre-soaked Crumble Topping:

  1. Presoak nuts and flour: Chop nuts and set them to soak overnight. After soaking overnight, put them in a 125 – 150°F oven to dry out for 24 hours, OR toast them at 300°F for 15 minutes.
  2. Sift flours, salt, stevia (or sugar) and spices.  Stir in melted butter then cut in cold butter until looks like a coarse meal
  3. Mix yogurt with 1 Tbsp cold water until combined. Stir into dough; if too dry, add more cold water 1 Tbsp at a time. (Spelt needs much less moisture than wheat and other flours).
  4. Wrap in waxed paper or oiled bakers’ parchment, and rest on counter overnight.
  5. Next Day: Combine prepared nuts (if using)with soaked flour mixture.
  6. Prepare filling then crumble the damp soaked mixture over fruit. Bake as above.

References:

  1. Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown (see Beloved Cookbooks for more about this cookbook)

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