Apple crisp is an eat-local dish anyone can make, even on a budget.
It is what I did in a serious time crunch for Week 9 for the Dark Days eat-local challenge, which is now more than halfway done.
Using an easily adaptable recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, I put together this most delicious dessert and seriously could have eaten the entire lot of it myself. (And I’m not usually an eat -an-entire-pan kind of girl.)
Upside: Washington apples are easy to find at most grocery stores.
Downside: Once you find the apples, you have to peel them and slice them. (In a time crunch, frozen local berries, also easy to find, would work, too.)
Doing the rest, however, is easy.
I used Fuji and Cameo apples from Washington, Golden Glen Creamery butter from Bow and local flour — half all-purpose from Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill of Bellingham and half soft white wheat from Nash’s Organic Produce of Sequim.
Baking, it’s easy to see, can easily take you off the purely local path.
All of the following were non-local yet essential in the crisp — brown sugar, lemon juice and zest, oats, cinnamon, salt. I left out the suggested shortening completely, whoops, but it didn’t seem to hurt.
I tried to make fresh whipped cream from Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy of Lynden, but accidentally whipped it for too long and made butter, so I ended up serving non-local vanilla ice cream.
I doubled the recipe and now have an extra bag of crisp topping in the freezer.
See urbanhennery.com for a host of inspiring Dark Days ideas.
Master recipe for fruit crisp
If you make the crisp topping in large quantities and freeze it, this dessert can be as simple as slicing up some fruit. Just store the topping in a large container or zipper-lock bag. When you need a quick dessert, scoop out the required amount, about two cups for the quantity of fruit in this recipe, sprinkle it over the prepared fruit and bake it.
7 cups fruit , prepared (see below for suggestions)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits (chilled, if using food processor)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into small bits (chilled, if using food processor)
2 1/2 pounds apples (about 6 apples), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 pounds apricots (15 to 20), pitted and quartered
2 pounds berries, rinsed and patted dry; if tart, add 1 tablespoon or more of sugar to taste
2 1/2 to 3 pounds nectarines or peaches (8 to 10 pieces of fruit), peeled, pitted and cut into sixths
2 1/2 to 3 pounds pears (6 to 7 pears), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 pounds plums (15 to 20), pitted and quartered
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss fruit with lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Spread evenly in 8-inch square baking pan, pressing down lightly.
Mix next five ingredients in a medium bowl or food processor add butter and shortening. If mixing by hand, use fingertips, a pastry blender, or two forks to blend fat into dry ingredients until mixture looks like coarse irregular crumbs, with no visible lumps of fat. If mixing in a food processor, pulse about 10 times, then process 5 to 10 seconds, until there are no visible lumps of fat.
Spread topping over prepared fruit; bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake until topping browns and fruit is tender when pierced, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.