Dec 25, 2012

Apple Crisp

During the winter I love to prepare an Apple Crisp for dessert on Shabbos. Serve it with vanilla ice cream--yum yum! It also makes a perfect Shabbat side dish to go with the heavier kugels.
 What makes it a crisp you ask? Why can’t it be a cobbler, crumble, slump or buckle? Maybe it should be called a pandowdy, (my favorite word) grunt or just plain old pie?

 “What is the difference?” our customers at The Peppermill ask.  Let us explain…

All of these terms refer to desserts containing fresh or cooked fruit, baked or steamed with sweet dough either under or on top of the fruit.  There are subtle differences between them all but the fruit you use for any of these dishes is limited only by your taste and imagination. 

Buckle is a type of cake that is made in a single layer, with fruit added to the batter--usually blueberries. The batter is quite thick, and as it bakes, it forms a thin bottom layer. It is usually topped with a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.

Betty was a popular baked pudding made in America during Colonial times. It's made by layering spiced fruit with buttered bread crumbs. All sorts of fruit can be used, but apples are the most common. You might find it in recipe books listed as "Apple Brown Betty."   This technique of layering apples and buttered crumbs is also referred to as a charlotte.

Cobbler is a deep-dish fruit dessert that is topped with a cookie-like crust.  The batter is often spooned or dropped on the fruit.  Depending on the region, it might also be called a bramble, grunt or slump. It can be made with almost any type of fruit, including peaches, nectarines, plums and berries.  Most food historians agree that the name is derived from the fact that the lumps of batter are reminiscent of cobblestone streets. 

Crisp is a baked dessert where the fruit filling is covered with a crunchy topping that is crumbled over the top. The crumb topping often contains rolled oats or chopped nuts.

Crumble is the British version of a crisp.

Grunts or Slumps are basically the same as cobbler.  In New England these names are more commonly used.  In researching these terms I have come across the interesting, if unappetizing, tidbit that the name “grunt” refers to the noises one makes to indicate satisfaction when eating a dessert of this type. 

Pandowdy is a deep-dish dessert most commonly made with apples.  The fruit is often sweetened with brown sugar. The topping is a crumbly type of cookie dough which is broken or cut up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to come through.  Some recipes call for the desert to be inverted before serving so that the crust is on the bottom. The exact origin of the name Pandowdy is unknown, but it may just refer to the desert’s plain or “dowdy” appearance.

The best part of these recipes is how easy they are to prepare.  Most take just minutes, using whatever fresh fruit you have on hand.  Batters and crumb toppings are mixed by hand, fruit is peeled and sliced.  No special skills required. 

The easiest of all is the crisp.  You can keep the crumb topping ready in your freezer and whip up a last minute dessert for unexpected guests.  Just bake it while serving your meal.  Serve it topped with vanilla ice cream and, voila! You’ve got an impressive end to your repast.

Here is my favorite winter version—in the summer I will use whatever fruit is getting soft in the ripening bowl.

Apple Crisp

for the filling:
9-10 apples (I use a mix of sweet and tart apples)
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice to add tartness if the fruit is overly sweet
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 12 ounce can cherry pie filling

for the topping:
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats
I'm using Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Macintosh apples and
there's my favorite peeler in the corner--Oxo!
1 stick margarine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Peel and slice apples thinly. Obviously I've got a great peeler from The Peppermill and my handy mandoline!
using a mandoline to slice the apples get the work done in no time!
here's my favorite 9"x13" oven-to-table dish from Casafina
  Toss apple slices with lemon juice,  cinnamon and nutmeg. Layer and pack tightly in a 9” x13” deep casserole dish.  Avoid disposable pans when making crisps because they cannot be turned out for serving.  The crisp will fall apart, resulting in a sodden mess.

 Add cranberries and stir in cherry pie filling.

In a bowl stir together flour and brown sugar until no lumps remain. 
Add the oats and combine. 
margarine cut into pieces and added to the bowl and
my neat and tidy Oxo storange containers

Cut up the margarine and work it into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or your fingertips. 
There should be no visible margarine remaining. 

Crumble the mixture evenly over the fruit, completely enclosing it. 
Bake 50-60 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the crumb topping has darkened.

You can also prepare this dish in individual ramekins for ease of serving.  It will yield 12 portions.
Serve hot or at room temperature—with or without ice cream.
yum! I could eat it right off the screen!

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