Apple Pecan Crisp
My 4-year-old daughter brought home her field trip permission slip for Homestead Farm today, which means it’s officially fall and, more importantly, I’m on the hook for chaperone. Truth be told, these autumn school field trips really aren’t my thing. The hayrides are itchy, the pumpkin patches are muddy and prickly; and the farm animals…ehh. Thank heavens at least they have apples!
So what am I planning to do with all my hard earned apples, once I’ve cleaned my boots and picked the hay off my jeans? One thing’s for sure: I won’t be rolling dough or fussing over fancy lattice patterns for apple pie. I’ll be taking the easy route with this old-fashioned Apple Pecan Crisp — a simple dessert of warm baked apples bubbling away in their own syrupy juices, topped with a streusel-like mix of toasted pecans, old-fashioned rolled oats, sweet butter and brown sugar. The recipe is adapted from Food & Wine, and it’s the best I’ve tried by far.
Note: Whenever you’re baking with apples, be sure to use firm baking apples that will hold their shape when cooked. For this recipe, I used a blend of Empire and Sun Crisp because that’s what was available at the farm. Your farmer’s market may have different options; just be sure to buy varieties that are suitable for baking, otherwise you’ll end up with applesauce. You can also use a mix of different varietals for a more nuanced flavor. If you’re not sure, most farmers markets sell apple pies – just ask what they use and go with that.
1 cup pecans (about 4 ounces)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” dice
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 ½ pounds tart baking apples (about 5 large), peeled, quartered, cored and sliced crosswise ¼” thick
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 6 – 8 minutes, or until very lightly toasted. Let the nuts cool completely, then coarsely chop them. Leave the oven on.
2. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the brown sugar, ¼ cup of the granulated sugar and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (see photo below). Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and stir in the toasted pecans and oats (be sure pecans are cool). Set aside.
3. Generously butter a shallow 2 quart baking dish (I used a 12”L x 8”W x 1” deep ceramic oval). In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the remaining 6 tablespoons granulated sugar. Transfer the apple mixture to the prepared baking dish and cover with topping. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until the apples are tender when pierced and topping is toasted. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.
How to Incorporate Butter – Photos
After pulsing – course meal texture