Sweeten fall with crispy apple crumble

An apple a day may keep a doctor away, but I bet they would come running if you put that apple into this crumble!

I have been working my way through 80 pounds of apples. There was a full weekend of simmering that resulted in many quart and pint jars filled with apple-ginger, apple-cardamom and apple-cinnamon sauces. Later in the week, three pounds of large green tomatoes paired with three pounds apples to make five pints of Green Tomato and Apple Chutney using a recipe posted by Hannah at Blue Kale Road. A few days after that I filled my soup pot with eight quarts of chopped apple and a bit of rhubarb to make 17 half-pints of rhubarb and apple jam. To make the jam, I did a riff on the honey-lemon-apple jam I made last year from Food in Jars’ recipe.

In case you are thinking about attempting this combo it was approximately:

  • 8 quarts of chopped fruit (about a 7-to-1 ratio of apples to rhubarb and around 1/3 Granny Smith apples) and 1 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice simmered until saucy.
  • Add 2 cups of honey and 4 cups of sugar and boil until jammy.

One by one I ladled all those spicy, sweet and sour apple concoctions in to jars and sealing them in a vat of boiling water. Eventually I was out of jars and out of energy — but not out of apples. I also hadn’t eaten many apples. So I went back to the drawing board with one of my favorite fruit desserts.

I have made countless crumbles. It is a go-to dessert suitable for most varieties of fruit. As much as I like the simplicity of a crumble, I feel that each combination of fruit requires a slightly different approach. Finding the perfect recipe for all of my favorite crumble fruits is a labor of love I am happy to undertake.

When it comes to apple crumbles this recipe is my current favorite. It is the dessert equivalent to my most well-worn cable knit sweater. Aside from apples and cinnamon, I feel, the key ingredient in this recipe is tapioca starch. Where most recipes call for tossing the chopped fruit with all-purpose flour, I have begun using tapioca flour. This change came after a tip from Kate McDermott, who you’ll remember is The Pie Lady. She recommends using tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, in pie fillings and after I saw how well it worked in pie filling I have been trying it in other desserts. What I love about the starch is the way it absorbs fruit juice creating a thick, but not gelatinous, syrup that coats the fruit rather than separating into a puddle at the bottom of the dish. Tapioca flour has none of the grainy texture or pasty flavor that can result from using wheat flour and you can use less with a much more attractive result. I have found tapioca flour, packaged by Bob’s Red Mill, on the shelf at Whole Foods and, on-line, at Amazon.

Whether you are looking to attract or repel a physician, cook your way through 80 pounds of apples or make a timeless dessert to share with friends, I hope you’ll put this apple crumble on your fall menu.

Oat &Walnut Topped Apple Crumble

Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes. Cooling time: 1 or more hours. Yields 8 servings.

Ingredients

Base

  • 3 lbs of apples assorted variety (approximately 6 large) recommend using at least 2 Granny Smith
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar (dark brown preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick cook)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup of walnut halves, minced

*Brown rice flour will work in place of all purpose flour to make this crumble gluten-free, this may alter the nutrition information.

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and have a 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole or 13-by-9 baking dish standing by.

Peel, core, and chop the apples into medium size pieces (approximately 3/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 to 2 inches long). Then toss the apple pieces with the tapioca starch, brown sugar and cinnamon. Turn the coated apples into the waiting baking dish.

Measure the oats, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar into a medium mixing bowl and give them a couple stirs with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into small pieces and use your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture. Working as quickly as possible to keep it cold, crumble the butter and flour together until the butter is broken into tiny pieces not bigger than a small pea. Stir the minced walnuts into the flour and butter mixture then sprinkle the topping over the apples in an even layer.

Place the dish into the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the apple juices are caramel colored and bubbly.

Allow the crumble to cool for an hour or more before serving the juices will thicken as they cool wrapping the apples in a cinnamon infused caramel like syrup worth waiting for.

Approximate nutrition per serving: 209 calories, 7 g fat, 36 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g protein, PP = 6

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