You know the classic back-to-school decorations with apples on them? The old-fashioned teacher's desk with the perfect red apple sitting next to it? You might be thinking all of that is outdated and perhaps a 'thing of the past.' I'm here to tell you that it is not. I have an apple sitting on my desk at work right now.
Teachers love apples. The reason is simply practical. Teachers get about a 20 minutes lunch and an apple is something they can grab and eat real quick with one hand while they're busying doing something else with the other. Teachers are experts at multitasking.
I usually take an apple to work everyday. I suppose this explains why I have 17 apples on my kitchen counter at the moment. I don't do subtle.
I have been working from home and I found I've been eating a little differently, not as healthy. Nowhere near as many apples. So, what's a girl to do with all her apples?
Ina Garten's Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp, because if there's one thing Ina knows it's roast chicken and desserts that go with it, namely apple and plum desserts. I've got your number, Ina.
I've made plenty of apple desserts with varying success, so I researched the ratings on Ina's crisp and while it had 5 stars, I could see some potential issues. Some people said this was too sweet...no worries for me because I love sweet. Other people said they didn't like the lemon/orange zest and juice. I needn't worry about that because I love citrus. A few said it wasn't good at all. So, after analyzing the recipe, I came to the conclusion that I knew what the issue was.
Ina calls for 5 pounds of apples. Most people have no idea what 5 pounds of apples looks like and that is definitely going to cause issues. Five pounds of apples is soooooo many apples. For example, I had 18 apples of varying sizes and it really only equated to about 3 pounds of apples, so you have to adjust your sugar and zest and juices to match. My advice: try to weigh your apples, or do some research about five pounds of apples and try to get real close. If all else fails, add the sugar, zest, and juices incrementally, tasting as you go. If you like what you taste then odds are you'll like the final product.
Additionally, I'm not one for huge chunks or wedges of apple in my desserts. I don't want an unmanageable wedge of apple making me look like a neanderthal when I eat. I want a cube of apple that I can eat like a lady. I also want my apples to be completely soft, not hard, not semi-hard. Hard and semi-hard apples in desserts are just not my thing.
Things needed for a successful apple crisp:
1) Measure your apples and get as close to 5 pounds as possible.
2) Cut your apples in a size that works for you. You want them soft? Cut them into small chunks.
3) Don't just add spices, zest, and juices all willy nilly. Add them a little at a time, tasting as you go.
4) Taste your apple mixture. If you can't quit eating the apples, then you're probably good to go!
Now let's talk about the topping: MOST people love a 2:1 ratio, more topping to apples. Even if you DO NOT have five pounds of apples, why not go ahead and make the full batch of topping?
Ok, so apple desserts 101 is now behind us, and this is where I'm going to tell you that I KNEW THIS APPLE CRISP WAS GOING TO BE THE BOMB BEFORE I PUT IT IN THE OVEN! I mean you know how you can just tell?
First of all, I could not quit eating the cubed apples tossed in the sugar and lemon/orange juice/zest mixture.Then the apple mixture perfectly fit the pan and the crumble topping came together beautifully and perfectly covered the crisp. The whole thing was screaming apple goodness. Vanilla ice cream, who?
This is THE PERFECT Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp and I am going to be eating it for dessert and as I've mentioned before, I will even justify eating it for breakfast because it is in a way, apples with baked oatmeal, right?
What are you waiting for? Ina's Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp is calling your name!
Recipe found on Food Network
by Ina Garten
5 pounds apples*
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice*
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon*
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
For the Topping
1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar,packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 pound cold butter, diced
Notes: Apple desserts are also best with a mix of various apples. For this dessert I used Golden Delicious, Honeycrispy, Rose, and Queen apples. I used about 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon because I don't like the spices to be too strong. I also omitted the nutmeg entirely for the same reason. Ina calls for only 2 tablespoons of lemon and orange juice and I accidentally added all the juice of both, and they were very juicy fruits. At first I was worried, but it turned out perfectly as I loved the flavor.
For the apples: Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9x 14 by2"oval baking dish. Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices (*I used the juice of the entire lemon and orange), sugar, and spices (I only used about 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and chose to leave out the nutmeg because it's too strong for me). Pour the apples into the dish.
To make the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use your hands. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the sizeof peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.
To bake: Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm, on it's own or with vanilla ice cream.