If you're living in France, you've probably been hearing about les crumbles quite a bit for the past few years. It started out as a "girly" dessert, with summer berries and a light crunch. Then, they discovered that the crumble could be adapted to any type of fruit, and even any type of chocolate. It became a staple in all the little trendy restaurants, and has now established itself as a classic. It reminds everyone of simpler times, when nobody was fussing over raspberry tiramisus or the ever-too-present pannacotta. Not to mention the crazy verrine fad, where pretty much everything was served in miniature glasses for a year.
(Side note: I was stuck at the train station yesterday and spent a good half hour at the bookstore, looking at cookbooks. Pannacotta here, pannacotta there...Seriously?)
Anyway, this doesn't mean that an apple crumble doesn't hit the spot on a cool fall day. It's sweet, tastes like cinnamon, and with melt-in-your-mouth apples that are hard to resist. I really like apple crumbles, but what I love even more are apple crisps.
It's easy to get lost between crumbles, crisps, buckles, brown bettys, and the like. From what I've seen, a lot of people consider an apple crisp to have rolled oats, whereas a crumble does not. Hmm. I think everyone probably has a different definiton, and my American Grandma's apple crisp sure is different.
First of all, there are no rolled oats. Next, when you eat a crumble, you usually (well, I speak for myself here) don't feel really full unless you eat a lot of it, or unless you have way too much vanilla ice cream to go along with it. Yes, I am speaking from experience.
With my Grandma's apple crisp, you definitely feel full afterwards. Granted, this might be because it's hard to stick to only a few bites, but still. The topping is similar to the topping you would find on an American-style apple pie but with a lot more going on--a lot of cinnamon, some sugar, and a delightfully crisp top.
Just one bite sent me back to when I was ten and we would spend Thanksgiving in Maryland. If anyone is looking for a crazy moment, I'd say have some apple crisp, don't take drugs. Just one bite with some brown sugar whipped cream, and I was sent swirling into a mix of yellows, oranges and reds. Visions of jumping into leaves and having a cup of hot chocolate à la maison. The fact that I'm writing this bundled up in a huge sweater and sitting by the fireplace in Saint-Dié is clearly contributing. And maybe the fact that my Aunt just whipped up a batch of fresh applesauce.
In any case, if you're looking for a true experience that leaves you completely amazed by the powers of apples, sugar, and cinnamon, trust me: apple crisp is the way to go.
Tastier than it looks.
The picture speaks for itself: taking a picture of my crisp wasn't even on my mind until the last few bites. And, the apple crisp looks and tastes infinitely better than it seems to on the phone-camera picture--I swear.
Grandma Rose's Apple Crisp
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Fill a 9x13 in. pan with peeled and cut baking apples. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 TS cinnamon, 1/4 TS nutmeg and mix.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3/4 TS salt, 1/2 TS baking powder, 1 egg, and a pinch of cinnamon. Spread on top of apples.
Melt 1/4 cup butter and pour over the entire pan. Bake for 20 minutes, and place under broiler for around 2 minutes, until slightly caramelized.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Note: I made brown sugar whipped cream (beat 1/4 cup heavy cream with 1 TB brown sugar until soft peaks form), and I use Vietnamese Cinnamon which, if you can find it--mine is from TJ Maxx--has a strong, amazing flavor.