Our piemaker Mom was not keen on apple crisp. A cook and baker extraordinaire, she was beloved for all of her cuisine. But people raved about her pies with the “best crust ever.”
Rebel that we were, we weren’t into pie crusts. We preferred the thicker, cookie-like tart crusts; and with no crusts, crisps (sprinkled with streusel topping—photo #1) and cobblers (with biscuit “cobblestones” on top—photo #5).
Although we crimped many a pie crust when cooking in Mom’s kitchen, we learned to make the latter two when we had an apartment of our own.
This weekend, our baking project is Grandmother Bassett’s Apple Crisp.
For an apples-and-honey Rosh Hashanah dessert, we’re serving it with Van Leeuwen honeycomb ice cream (photo #3—other brands make honey ice cream, too). We’ve also enjoyed apple crisp with salted caramel ice cream, although your favorite—chocolate, coffee, vanilla, whatever) works, too.
> The difference between pies and tarts.
1. PLACE an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish.
2. COMBINE the water and cinnamon in a large bowl. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/2 inch-thick wedges, place them in the cinnamon water bowl and toss well. Pour them into the baking dish.
3. COMBINE the flour, butter, and brown sugar in another bowl. Work the mixture into coarse crumbs that resemble dried oats and sprinkle over the apples.
4. PLACE the baking dish on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan to prevent spills. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.
The earliest print reference to apple crisp in print occurs in 1924, with a recipe in the Everybody’s Cook Book: A Comprehensive Manual of Home Cookery, by Isabel Ely Lord [Harcout Brace and Company: New York] 1924 (p. 239).
Over time, the names have become used interchangeably; although that’s not correct. If it’s streusel, it’s a crisp, if there are rolled oats, it’s a crumble.
However, the basic foodstuffs that were rationed were bacon, butter, and other fats, canned and processed foods, cheese, coffee, meat, and sugar.
Crisps, crumbles, and pies all contain sugar and fats. While the topping of crisps and crumbles requires much less fat than pie crusts, the toppings require sugar, and pie crusts do not. We’re guessing that the extra sugar was easier to manage during rationing than the extra fats.
Today, crisps and crumbles are made with all types of fruit. Like pies, they are equally beloved for their delicious selves.
> April 13th is National Peach Cobbler Day.
> May 17th is National Cherry Cobbler Day.
> October 5th is National Apple Betty Day.
> October is National Apple Month, October 21st is National Apple Day.
*One medium apple yields about 1-1/3 cups sliced or cubed. So four apples should do it, but it never hurts to have extras [source].