Don't ever compare your cooking to Mom's - you won't win.
Today I'm doing a comparison test of my apple crisp vs Mom's apple crisp. She always liked hers made with fairly tart apples and used less sugar than my recipe. I like the flavor of my crisp to be more mellow and a little sweeter. Mom used very tart apples and I like to use less tart fruit. I even like to mix two or three types of apples to give the crisp more complex flavors.
The apples vary from name to name, and even from year to year and can even create different flavors each year. For instance, I like Paula Reds for my apple crisp due to their sweet tart flavor and firm texture. But, this year the orchards have produced a different Paula Red in our area, due to hotter weather. The extreme heat in our area has altered the apple somewhat, giving it a softer, very mealy texture and a much tougher skin. Since I do not peel the apples before I put them in the crisp, I had to dice the apples a little smaller to make sure the pieces of peeling you eat are not tough. There are a lot of vitamins in the peels, so I like to include them. Dicing the apples smaller helped in that aspect, but it created a much softer texture for the meat of the apple by the time the crisp was done baking. So, my apple crisp this year turned out quite a bit different from previous years all due to the change in the climate the apples matured in.
Okay, so you're probably wondering about the missing letter in the headline for Mom's Apple recipe. Well, the story begins with a cousin who brought her husband to Mom's home for the first time after they had recently been married. He was very nervous about meeting his wife's aunt, and was very careful about what he said and was extremely polite, almost to an extreme. They got along very well. We had a great meal at Mom's that early Fall day, and when she brought out the dessert, he exclaimed, "Oh, I love this, it's just like my Mom's apple cr#p! (You fill in the missing letter.) Well, we all laughed so hard while he turned redder and redder, realizing right away his faux pax. They hugged each other and were laughing so hard they both were in tears. So, from that day forward, Mom has called her apple dessert Apple Cr#p.
The advantages of making apple crisp vs apple pie is that you don't need to be an expert at making pie crusts. When I watched Gram make pie crusts, she measured EVERYthing out with her hands - absolutely no measuring cups, or she used a tea cup with a broken off handle. And, her crusts were the same - perfect - every single time. I'm not so inclined to make a very good pie crust so I rely on apple crisp. I still get the wonderful apple pie baking smell in the kitchen and the apple pie flavor to enjoy at the table, with an added crispy, crusty, nutty texture on top. The combination of butter and old fashioned oatmeal flakes give that crispy texture during the baking process.
Apple crisp, or cr#p, is probably the easiest recipe for a pie like apple concoction. It's basically using your favorite apples and controlling the amount of sugar you use. It's delicious warm or room temperature or cool from the frig. No matter what temperature you like your apple crisp, it's best topped with home made whipped cream or a good vanilla ice cream. Or, even drizzle caramel sauce on the apple crisp while it's still warm out of the oven. Some people are even been known to drizzle it with home grown Wisconsin honey or maple syrup. Yum! Gramps like his with cheddar cheese melted on top.
Mom's Apple Cr*p feeds a crowd.
Mom's apple cr#p was created for a crowd. And, she never disappointed with this special treat made with tart apples. This is probably one of the easiest apple desserts to make, and it's quick! It takes an hour to bake, so you have an hour to sit and relax, play with the kids, wash a couple of loads of clothes or have a cup of coffee or text your friends.
NOTE: The pic above is actually her recipe that I recently made with 1/2 cup of oatmeal in the topping. Also, due to no crowd being around to feed it to, I cut the recipe in half and made it in a 10" round glass pie pan. Her version would have been made in a 9"x13" baking pan, like a cake pan.
Per Mom's handwriting, "Wealthy (apples) are the best" as for this recipe. She also noted that "if apples are kept in ref, will be firmer and juicier," and that if you leave them out "2 days on the counter will make them mealy and lose juices!" She added, "Great!" at the top of this green recipe card. She liked to "grade" a few recipes with that word. I usually write excellent, so-so or poor at the top.
Prepare the baking pan:
Butter a 9"x13" baking pan.
The filling is the centerpiece of this dessert:
6 C Apples, sliced, peeled, diced
1 C Sugar
2 t Cinnamon
3/4 C Flour
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 C Butter, cold
- Cut the cold butter into little squares.
- According to Mom, "Mix the flour, cinnamon and butter as for pie crust." In other words, use your fingers or a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the dry ingredients until they are about pea sized. Don't mix too long if you are using your fingers or the butter will melt and not create the crispy flaky crust on the top. (I love to read her recipes. She had beautiful cursive writing. A nice slant to it, good curves, full letters and easy to read. And, if she added an exclamation point at anytime, she meant it!)
- Mix the diced apples with the sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon and place in the baking pan.
- Sprinkle the topping onto the apples.
- Bake at 375F degrees for 45-50 minutes.
- Let stand on the counter on a rack for 15 minutes before digging in. The smell from her apple crisp baking in the oven filled the kitchen and the rest of the home - such a warm and cozy aroma in the fall.
- Top with creams - As a younger kid, I remember Mom usually had farm fresh heavy cream in the fridge because Gramps would bring it over from his farm. As I grew older she tended to have the store bought prepared whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on hand to complete the dessert. The store bought versions saved her a a bit of work, especially since there were five of us kids on hand now to to tend to.
Mom's apple crisp was especially tasty warm, allowing the whipped cream or ice cream to get melty on top. I remember Gramps (her Dad) would pour real cream fresh out of the farm milk house on his.
Keep Mom's apple crisp in the refrigerator for about 4 days if it doesn't disappear before that. It seems somebody was always raiding the frig at home it didn't last even 3 days. Reminiscing about this recipe really takes me back to my childhood and the wonderful smells Mom created in the kitchen.
My Apple Crisp
4-5 C Fresh (Paula Reds) apples, diced, do not peel
1/3 C Sugar
1/2 t Cinnamon
1 t Vanilla extract
Prepare a metal, ceramic or glass pan or small casserole dish. I use a 9"x 5" ceramic casserole dish which is just right for 4 servings for my hubby and me. Be sure to butter the pan. I NEVER not use spray cooking oil. Butter is a much better flavor that enhances your baked item.
Make the Filling:
- Dice your apples. If the apples are softer, dice them larger. If the apples are harder, it's fine to dice them a little smaller.
- Toss you apples with the sugar and cinnamon. At this point go ahead and add any other spices you like, like allspice, nutmeg or ginger.
- Place your apple mixture in the prepared baking pan.
- If I think I have too much apple mixture for the baking pan, I'll put the extra into a small buttered ceramic bowl for an individual serving.
1/3 C Flour
1/2 C Old fashioned oats
1/3 C Brown sugar (always packed)
1/4 t Salt
1/2 t Cinnamon
1/4 C Butter, cold, diced
1/2 C Pecans, chopped roughly
Prepare the crispy topping:
- Mix all of the topping items together, except the old fashioned oats and nuts, with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.
- Stir in the old fashioned oats and nuts, then mix them in a little with the pastry cutter. The pecans will give a nutty texture on top. If you don't like pecans, try walnuts. The pecans will give a sweeter flavor than the walnuts which will give a more earthy flavor. Or, if you don't like nuts, leave them out entirely.
- Spoon the topping onto the top of the apple mixture. Keep it loose, do not pat it down.
- If you have too much, as with the apple mixture, just add it to the other baking dish.
- Bake at 350F degrees for 45-60 minutes. I normally time it for the lowest amount of time (45 minutes) and then pull it out of the oven and check it to see how the apples are cooking and how the top is browning. You can slide a fork or spoon down the side of the dish to pull out a piece of apple to see if it's cooked through or not. Then, adjust your timer. If the apples are fairly firm, I'll bake it another 10 minutes and then test it again. If you feel the topping is browning too fast, just place a loose piece of aluminum foil over it for the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
Cool about 15 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or ice cream. What an easy apple treat for the entire family.
Do your own comparison test.
Try both of these recipes and see which one you and your family enjoy most. There's no right answer. Deep down inside, I like my Mother's best, but with oatmeal in the topping, and with caramel drizzled on top as shown in mine.