This irresistibly easy homemade apple crisp is literally my favourite dessert and all-time guilty pleasure. It all begins with the intoxicating aroma of apples and cinnamon, and then comes the steaming bowlful of soft fruit topped with a golden crunchy oat and pecan crisp. Better make your own, because I’m not sharing.
More of an apple pie person? Grandma’s homemade apple pie is reminiscent of childhood autumns and just as comforting.
Homemade apple crisp
Apple crisp or apple crumble? It largely depends on which side of the Atlantic you are. 12 years ago, I was ordering apple crisp from North American menus, with a scoop of ice cream. Nowadays, it’s apple crumble and custard. Dreamy!
There are a couple of finer points to it though. The North American crisp tends to be more buttery and sugary, which is what gives it those much desired dark and crispy edges. And a crisp will always contain oats for its signature crunch factor. A British crumble, on the other hand, has a higher flour to sugar to butter ratio which better absorbs the fruit juices. Oats are optional.
So, what’s a streusel? Whereas a crumble or crisp is a topping for a cooked fruit dessert, streusel is usually a crumbly topping for cake. The ingredients are the same, although it’s more of a crumble than a crisp in that respect, but still crunchy, golden and moreish.
Best apples for apple crisp
It is argued that any apple can be used for apple crisp. However, with 7,500 varieties out there across the Earth, I’d argue not.
For me, an apple worthy of my apple crisp recipe must be two things: firm, or crunchy, in its raw texture; and tart. Sweet apples don’t do it for me anyway, but up against this sugary streusel topping, I want a killer contrast.
Here’s my sour to sweet ranking of commonly used, and readily available, apples for cooking:
- Bramley apple (supremely sour!)
- Granny Smith (pretty sour)
- Braeburn (sour)
- Red Delicious (borderline sweet)
- Golden Delicious (definitely too mild for me)
- Pink Lady (only on my list for you!)
- Fuji (you know who you are)
My apple crisp recipe calls for Granny Smith or Braeburn, which retain their texture and are suitably tart.
Not only are Fuji apples too sweet for my taste, they have a high water content which makes the fruit disintegrate when cooking and will result in a soggy crisp. AVOID!
And there’s no harm in mixing it up either. Feel free to experiment by using half and half.
Recipe tips and notes
- To make sure your crisp topping is, in fact, crisp, you must begin with cold butter.
- Cut the cold butter into cubes and then mix into the dry topping ingredients either with a pastry cutter or with cool fingers. Hot hands and hot butter equal crust not crisp.
- Neither do you want a powdery texture. The aim is a coarse to clumpy consistency.
- Slice your apples slender. They are a dense fruit and take time to cook. It’s important that the streusel topping and the apples are both cooked perfectly within the same time.
- I like to add a tablespoon of corn starch to the filling. It controls the juices! But that is entirely up to you.
- My definitive tip is: serve your apple crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of store-bought salted caramel sauce. Just delish!
As I’ve mentioned, I’m team ice cream! A good quality vanilla or clotted cream is the best. Not forgetting a good dousing of salted caramel sauce.
But my good friends, the Brits, won’t hear of ‘apple crumble’ without lashings of custard. Why would you have a hot pudding and a cold sauce, they puzzle.
Having said that, they are partial to single (light) cream poured generously over the steaming hot pud too.
Storage and leftovers
Get ahead of the cookout or holiday game by freezing your homemade dessert. You can freeze either a baked or unbaked apple crisp. Here’s how:
Baked- allow to cool completely before wrapping in cling film to make it airtight. Wrap the whole thing- dish and all. Freeze for up to 4 months. Your baked and frozen apple crisp can go straight into the oven. Cook again at 200C/400F and add 10 minutes to the original cooking time.
Unbaked- once the filling has cooled, wrap in clingfilm (dish and all) to make it airtight. Freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw the unbaked crisp overnight in the fridge and follow the original baking instructions (200C/400F for 50-55 minutes).
(Previously unfrozen) leftover crisp can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. If you ask me, it is even better a day or two later! It’s controversial, I know! Eat hot or cold.
More baking recipes
- Italian Plum Cobbler
- Almond Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
- Summer Peach Cake with Red Berries (VIDEO)
- Wild Blackberry Pie
Easy Homemade Apple Crisp
For the streusel topping
- 200g / 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 140g / 1 cup plain flour (all purpose)
- 80g / 1 cup old-fashioned oats or quick cooking oats
- 200g / 1 cup butter chilled
- ½ cup pecans whole or nuts of your choice like almonds and hazelnuts
For the apple filling
- 8 medium apples Braeburn or Granny Smith
- 100g / ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. In a mixing bowl combine the granulated sugar flour and oats, then cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. Alternatively you can use your hands. Simply rub the chilled butter into the flour and oat mix with your fingers to create little chunks. Make sure all dry ingredients have been moistened with the butter. Add the pecans or any other nuts you are using and mix.
- Meanwhile peel, core and sliced the apples, then toss with brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and vanilla. Transfer the apples to a buttered 9X13 inch baking dish or a large cast iron pan. Then scatter the streusel mix all over the apples. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes.