Autumnal Apple Crisp

Last week, I had the privilege of accompanying the Mobile Market crew on their Tuesday afternoon rounds. I have been growing and harvesting food at Orchard Gardens for three seasons now, but it was the first time I saw our produce exchanged between the Youth Harvest teenagers and the senior citizens they serve.  The youth are professional  and friendly, definitely among the best purveyors of produce I have seen.  And I’ve worked a lot of farmer’s markets and grocery stores in my time.
Youth Harvest Director, Laurie Strand Bridgeman, picked us up in the highly-visible red box truck. Once we hopped insideand slung our backpacks on the ground, she presented us with an amazing apple crisp she had baked in her “twenty free minutes” before market. To me, apple crisp is one of the harbingers of autumn, and now that the equinox has passed, I fully recommend baking one.

In our last Orchard Gardens post, Sarah wrote about the peaches in the orchard. Before the peach harvest, Amy and I cleaned out a crab apple tree. The apples had been, er, aging, in my refrigerator since then (summer crops such as tomatoes and eggplant had taken precedent).  Luckily, the crisp extended their lives in a really tasty way!

I have fond memories of apple crisp from growing up, as it was one of three recipes my dad could manage to cook, and was often utilized to use up the bounty from his backyard apple and pear orchard. It is also rewarding to bake, as you probably have the ingredients sitting in your cupboard.

Last but not least, it will make your home smell amazing. Put on some folksy tunes (I recommend Sun Kil Moon), put a skillet of apple crisp in the oven, and make yourself a good cup of tea. Happy fall!

I adapted this recipe from Sunset magazine’s “Los Rios Apple Crisp,” which my dad uses. The original recipe uses all-purpose flour; I made mine with gluten-free oats and a gluten-free whole grain flour mix (although just brown rice or teff flour should work fine).

Ingredients:

2 ¼ lbs. apples, cored and thinly sliced

½ cup cane sugar

4 ounces flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup oats

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup butter, cut into ½-inch chunks

¾ cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. In a cast iron skillet (or 9-inch square baking dish, or 1 ½-2 quart casserole) mix apples, cane sugar, 1 ounce of flour, and cinnamon.

3. In a bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, butter, and remaining flour. Mix with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed (this is the fun part!). Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle evenly over apples.

4. Bake until apples are tender and topping is brown and apples are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.

5. Serve warm or cool; bonus points for homemade ice cream!