If we had to pick just one dessert to make and enjoy throughout the fall months, apple crumble would be it. The classic fruit dessert wins major points because it’s wildly easier to assemble than pie, but is just as cozy and satisfying (if not more so!). Gather the apples you’ve picked or carried home from the farmers market, and dessert will be on the table in less than an hour. Just don’t forget the vanilla ice cream — a big scoop over the warm crumble is nonnegotiable, in our opinion.
The Difference Between a Crumble and a Crisp
The terms “crumble” and “crisp” are often thrown around interchangeably when discussing a baked fruit dessert with a sweet, streusel-like topping. But technically speaking, there is a difference, and it all comes down to one ingredient: rolled oats. A crisp contains oats in the topping, while a crumble does not. Baking powder can also be added to a crumble topping (like it is here) to ensure it’s extra light and tender. Nuts are optional in both desserts.
That being said, it’s very likely you’ve come across a crisp recipe that doesn’t contain oats and a crumble recipe that does. Luckily, no matter what it’s called, it’s delicious.
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Prefer a crisp to a crumble? Here’s our favorite recipe for an easy apple crisp.
To Peel or Not to Peel
In order to make this the absolute easiest apple crumble, we’ve deemed peeling the apples optional. Since the apples are thinly sliced, the peel cooks and softens enough so that it’s barely noticeable. We also like the extra flavor, color, and texture that the peel contributes, but of course if you’ve got apple peel-averse folks among your crowd, feel free to take the extra step to remove it before slicing.
Freeze Extra Crumble Topping for Dessert Anytime
One last (very important) thing: We highly suggest you double the crumble topping. Transfer half to a large zip-top freezer bag and tuck it away in the freezer. It will keep well in there for up to a month, and can be sprinkled over the apple filling (or any fruit filling, for that matter) straight from the freezer before baking. Your future self is already thanking you.
5 More Apple Desserts We Love
- Catskills Apple Dumplings
- Mini Apple Rose Pies
- How To Make the Best, Easiest Apple Crisp
- Glazed Apple Fritters
- How To Make Caramel Apples
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup
- 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon
- 2 pounds
tart baking apples (about 6 medium or 4 large), such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled or unpeeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the topping:
- 1 cup
- 1/2 cup
packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup
chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
- 1 teaspoon
- 1/4 teaspoon
- 8 tablespoons
(1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the baking dish
8×8-inch, 9×9-inch or other 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish
Measuring cups and spoons
Gallon-size zip-top freezer bag (optional)
Heat the oven to 375°F and prepare the baking dish. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Coat an 8- or 9-inch square or other 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish with butter; set aside.
Prepare the fruit filling. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon together in a large bowl to break up any lumps. Add the apples and lemon juice and toss gently to coat. Transfer to the baking dish and spread into an even layer.
Prepare the crumble topping. Add the flour, sugar, nuts (if using), baking powder, and salt to the now-empty bowl and whisk to combine. Cut the butter into a few large pieces and toss these in the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients until large, heavy crumbs are formed.
Scatter the crumble topping over the fruit. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the fruit mixture, leaving large clumps intact.
Bake the crumble 30 to 35 minutes. Bake until the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges of the baking dish and the topping is golden and firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool the crumble. Let the crumble cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. If transporting to a picnic or party, let the crumble cool completely to give the fruit filling time to set.
Make ahead: The crumble topping can be made in advance. Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or freezer for up to a month.
Storage: The cooled crumble will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Serve cold, room temperature, or re-warmed in a low oven for 20 minutes.
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