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Fear Conquered: Crispy Crumbles
“You could make an apple pie...” Boyfriend Javelin says with more than a little hope in his voice. “You haven’t made that yet this year.”
In other words, he’s not sick of it yet. Like pumpkin pie. Which I have been making for months, over and over and over and over. To the point that we both know all the spices and textures.
I shrug. “I could,” I say noncommittally. Because I don’t really feel like making a pie with all the rolling out of the crust and crimping. “But I’ve already posted a recipe for my apple pie so I really don’t need to test it again.”
Boyfriend Javelin looks sad. Fake sad. The kind of sad face he knows I’ll fall for and ultimately give in to. The kind of sad face he does so well. “What about a crisp then?” he asks. “You know we have to do something with all these apples...”
Yes. All these apple I insisted on buying. Two bushels of Honey Crisp apples from Patterson’s Farm during our trip to Ohio. And the half-bushel of Macintosh. And the bag of Granny Smith apples. All these apples, sitting about the apartment getting more fragrant by the day because there’s not enough room in the tiny refrigerator to store them all.
All these apples.
“I’ll make some applesauce,” I say. “That’ll use up a lot more of them.” I’ve already made a ridiculous amount of applesauce. The chest freezer is now about 1/3 filled with just applesauce.
“Applesauce AND an apple crisp...?” Boyfriend Javelin asks hopefully. And give me his best hopeful face.
I sigh. Apple crisp is going to be happening apparently. “But a crisp is just a crustless pie,” I protest. “And then you’re missing out on the crust. It’s just basically applesauce with soggy streusel on top.”
“No it’s not!” Boyfriend Javelin says fiercely. And I grin and he grins. Because we both know I didn’t really mean that anyway. “There’s all the spices and it’s all syrupy and the streusel gets all crispy,” he persists. He’s working that sad face again. He’s not resting until there’s a crisp in progress.
“I guess,” I say, still attempting some token resistance. But I’m already thinking about a recipe. An adaptation, really. Basically just an alteration. “I could just make my apple pie filling and streusel...” I say slowly, arranging the components of the crisp in my head. “I’ll just use one of the Corning Ware dishes instead of the pie plate and leave out the crust.”
“You probably won’t need to bake it as long either,” Boyfriend Javelin suggests helpfully.
“Maybe,” I say, still thinking. “But probably about the same amount of time because otherwise the apples won’t break down enough and the syrup won’t thicken.”
“Well, it should be easier at least,” he persists. “There’s no crust.”
“You know...” I say, feeling the first twinge of excitement for baking my first crust-less pie. “I bet I could use coconut oil instead of regular oil or butter for the streusel top.” Wheels turning, pictures forming. “I bet it would get extra crispy.”
Boyfriend Javelin seems less excited - but relieved to see his sad face has done its job. “Good,” he says happily. “So you’re going to make it?”
“I bet I could add some cranberries too,” I go on, not really paying attention to the question. I’m already searching the room for my laptop so I can pull up the my apple pie recipe and start altering the ingredients. “And I’d probably still want to use corn starch and flour as thickeners...”
A day later. Boyfriend Javelin is at work and it’s mid-afternoon. My first crisp is hot from the oven, cooling in a molten pool of it’s own bubbly excess. Complete with a coconut oil streusel, cranberries and corn starch and flour for thickeners. I’m staring dubiously at the crispy streusel top, spoon poised for scooping. I’m hoping for edible. Because I don’t have any ice cream to help this crisp along.
“Oh. My. God.” Yes. That’s exactly what I said. First bite, totally edible, just about right. Maybe a touch too sweet. And maybe not quite enough crisp-to-apple ratio. You know, things to work on in the next three testings. But OMG, no soggy crumbles and I need a second bite.
My first helping turns into a second helping which turns into recalling my friend MJ (from MJ’s Kitchen) saying that when she makes a cobbler she can never stop eating it. And how deadly right she is (although I'm eating a crumble and not a cobbler). And how I might never make pie again because who needs crust when you’ve got something this delicious?
For some reason, Boyfriend Javelin doesn’t try the crisp when he gets home from work. Something about there being leftover pumpkin pie in the fridge that needs to be eaten before it goes to waste. So the crisp is chilled for 24 hours before he finally scoops out a serving.
“Wow,” he says, tapping the crumble topping with his spoon. “That’s really something. It’s like a crusty layer.”
I grin triumphantly. “I know,” I say. “I think it’s the coconut oil.”
He takes a bite and nods his head slowly. “It’s good,” he says. He takes another bite. “The topping is the best part. But maybe just a little TOO sweet?”
“Yup,” I say. “I think I’ll use a Granny Smith apple or two instead of just all Honey Crisp. And maybe add more cranberries.”
“But it’s really close,” Boyfriend Javelin says. “Good job.” Which totally makes up for all those manipulative sad faces.
I don’t think I can smile any bigger. Fear of soggy crumbles and crisps is over. Hello, you crustless wonder. We’re gonna be fast friends.
STORY | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
|The crumble starts with juice from half an orange. You can also include the pulp.|
|Next you will need the juice from half a lemon (and pulp if desired)|
|Next, dice an core 6 medium apples. If desired, you can first peel the apples.|
|Dice the apples into small 1/2-inch pieces|
|In a large bowl, toss the apples in juices to evenly coat.|
|Add flour, corn starch, sugar and spices|
|Toss to coat apples evenly.|
|Add frozen or fresh cranberries to the coated apples.|
|Toss to coat everything, then set aside while you make the crumble topping.|
|The crumble topping starts with old fashioned rolled oats for a better crunch.|
|To the oats, add unbleached all-purpose flour.|
|Then add brown and granulated sugar.|
|Next add spices and mix everything together until well-combined.|
|Next add coconut oil|
|Mix in coconut oil until you achieve and even crumb texture.|
|To bake the crumble, I recommend using a 2.5 liter/quart capacity baking dish. An oval dish works well.|
|Pack the apple/cranberry filling into the baking dish.|
|Next sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples|
|Place the baking dish on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet to catch any drips from the crumble.|
|Cover the baking dish with foil and poke at least 20 holes in the foil with a toothpick. Bake the crumble at 400F for 45 minutes, then uncover the crumble and bake for another 35 minutes at 375F.|
|Once crumble is crisp and the edges begin to bubble, the crumble is finished baking. Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then serve.|
|Vanilla ice cream goes exceptionally well with this crumble.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Crisp Apple Cranberry Crumble
Prep Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 20 min
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Ingredients (serves 10)
- 6 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced (Honey Crisp and Granny Smith)
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 orange, juice of
- 1/2 lemon, juice of
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon corn starch
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup refined coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 400℉ and line a baking sheet with foil
- In a large bowl, toss the diced apples with lemon and orange juice, then add the remaining filling ingredients and stir well to evenly coat the apple pieces; stir in the cranberries and set aside
- In a separate medium bowl, combine all the crumble topping ingredients (except for coconut oil) and evenly mix. Add the coconut oil and cut through the dry ingredients with a fork until a uniform crumble in achieved
- Pour the apple filling (from step 2) into an ungreased shallow baking dish (2.5 liter/quart capacity or larger), then sprinkle the crumble topping (from step 3) over the apple filling
- Cover the baking dish with foil and poke at least 20 holes in the top of the foil with a toothpick
- Place the baking dish on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 400℉; remove the foil and bake for another 35 minutes at 375℉
- Let the crumble cool for 10 minutes, then serve (with optional vanilla ice cream if desired)
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2012 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
- Before I even started testing my crumble, I had a chat with my sister about making crumbles as she's tried a few different recipes - and she has been disappointed with the crumble toppings in the past as they turn out...well...like crumbles. Not crispy, but more lumpy. So I wanted to achieve a truly crispy topping for my crumble and there are a couple key ingredients and techniques to achieve this - oats, coconut oil, and baking temperature.
- I know oats are not traditionally part of a streusel, but when used in a crumble topping, they really crisp up nicely and help give this crumble it's distinctive crispiness. And I think they taste great in combination with the spices and sugar. So I strongly recommend adding oats to any crumble topping.
- Coconut oil doesn't taste anything like coconut - it really doesn't have any flavor. And contrary to it's name, it's really not a liquid like most other oils. It remains thick and almost solid at room temperature, almost the consistency of a loose shortening. Like butter, you can work it into the flour, oats and sugar to make a really nice crumble topping. Unlike butter, coconut oil has better nutrition properties and it creates a delightfully crispy topping when baked. Better than butter, if you ask me.
- You need to bake crumbles at higher temperatures if you want a thickened syrupy center and a crispy topping. Just like my dutch apple pie, I bake my crumble at two different temperatures and I keep the crumble covered with foil for the first part of the bake time. During the first part of the bake time, the apples begin to soften and the inner syrup starts to form from all the juices. Then during the second half of the bake time, the foil comes off and the top of the crumble get a chance to finish baking through and really get crisp.
- Every time I bake a pie or a crumble, I invariably choose a baking dish that's too small (or I over-stuff the dish) - and then the juices leak over the side of the dish and make a burned mess all over the bottom of my oven. So learn from my mistakes and always bake your crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (with a raised edges). And try not to over-stuff your baking dish.
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