Apple crisp is definitely one of the dishes that I always wanted to learn to make well, but that was a bit intimidating, since my mother uses no measurements; she just adds the ingredients by eye and feel and taste. It’s a beloved recipe inherited from my grandmother, who passed it on to my mother.
The first time I tried to bake apple crisp by myself (no mom around) was in 2016, when I had a guest coming for dinner.
I’m convinced a recipe can tell when you are afraid to bungle it up: I was too stingy with spices (out of fear), and I left out the “cardamom,” the ingredient my mother claims adds a very special element to the dish; it was her own addition to the recipe.
I didn’t leave out the cardamom because I forgot, but because I was afraid that my guest wouldn’t like it.
The crisp I made didn’t turn out badly, just not as my mother makes it.
I’m convinced that part of what makes my mom’s cooking so amazing is that she is fearless in the kitchen. She adds whatever strikes her fancy in whatever quantities she feels like (within reason). If she forgets something in the oven “oh well, extra crispy.” It still somehow tastes good!
The lesson that I learned from this? Don’t be afraid when you are baking. Just have fun. Because in the end, who cares! You learn from what works and what doesn’t…just as with everything in life. But also, practice makes perfect…So, maybe try it out for the first time before a guest comes over???
Without further ado… the much beloved recipe of my grandmother’s. This is for the topping. I guess she just figured everyone knew what to do with the apple part?
To make the topping: Place the ingredients above in a bowl and crumble them together with your hands (make sure your butter is cold). Once the mixture has formed into a crumble, you are going to spread it on top of your apples to form a crust.
For the apple portion of the dish: peel a dozen or so granny smith apples and cut them into slices. The apple will bake down and you can choose to add more or less fruit. My family likes the crisp piled high with fruit: my mother has to put a pan under the ceramic deep dish she cooks it in, so that the juice (bubbling over the dish from the apples) will have a place to go!
Put the apple slices in a bowl and add a good squeeze of lemon juice; this will stop the apples from browning, and give them a nice zing! Add some granulated sugar, a good few pinches, depending on how sweet your fruit is.
Now it’s time to spice to your taste. I like to add cinnamon and nutmeg. My mother likes to skip cinnamon (since my dad doesn’t like it) and she just adds a bit of cardamom.
This dish is perfect for creating your own interpretation!