During that sliver of time between Labor Day weekend and the first frost of autumn is a New England ritual that most locals cannot do without: apple picking season. While local farm stands have come into vogue in recent years, the yearly ritual of heading to your local orchard, getting your half-bushel-sized durable plastic-handled bag, and walking up and down rows and rows of gnarled apple trees to pluck only the freshest, crispest apples one can get one’s hands on has been going on for generations.
If you’re anything like me, this means you’ll pick almost too many apples. Almost. Because there’s no such thing as too much. But it is almost too much. Like, there’s no way a family of four could even begin to handle that amount of apples. For me, it’s generally cortland apples, and my husband and I will fill up a few bags between us. The key is to fill the bags as much as humanly possible, because they’re generally sold by the bag, and not by weight, and those bags can hold quite a bit. And it’s a lot of apples.
But I never regret that decision, because it’s worth the splurge and indulgence. There’s absolutely nothing better than a freshly picked apple -- the crunch, the snap of the skin, the tart-yet-sweet fruit, the line of juice that runs down your arm. It’s the best. And some of these apples are so large, they can replace a meal.
But of course there’s more than one way to eat an apple. While eating them straight up is divine, there are oodles of wonderful baked goods that work wonderfully with tart, autumn apples. Yes, apple pie, of course. But sometimes we need something even simpler, something that’s easy to bake but somehow feels even more indulgent. Which is why we’re adding a recipe to the end of this post that even the most inept baker can easily master: apple crisp.
So Makers, let’s get making/baking.
It really couldn’t be simpler, and it gives you some leeway to adapt it according to what you’d like. I’ve made this crisp enough times I don’t even follow a recipe. I just follow my little baker’s heart. And be sure to make enough for leftovers! If you fill up a 9-by-14 baking dish, you can easily reheat a dish all week long whenever you need it.
One rule of thumb: when in doubt, add a little extra butter (honestly, what recipe doesn’t benefit from a little more butter?). Don’t be afraid to make sure the crust coating on your apples is a little thick - mix up some more it if you can still see the apples peeking through, because once it’s baked and bubbling, the sugar and butter will seep down into the fruit. Getting a nice caramelized, chewy crust makes this crisp to die for.
Maker’s Apple Crisp
Six or seven tart apples (cortland or macoun)
1 cup of flour
⅔ cup of white sugar
⅓ cup of brown sugar
1 stick of butter (straight from the fridge)
¾ tsp of cinnamon
⅛ tsp of salt
First, set oven to 375 degrees. Then, mix all dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Peel, core, and slice apples into half-inch segments and spread apples in a layer at the bottom of a 9x14 baking dish. Cut cold butter into half inch pieces and then mix into dry ingredients until it has a crumbly texture. It’s totally fine that it’s a little chunky -- it’s better if the butter goes into the oven still cold. Put a few extra pats of butter on top of crust if you wish, and then stick the baking pan on the middle rack in the oven for about an hour. The crisp will be done once the sugar has melted, the apples are soft when poked through with a fork, and the crisp is bubbling up.
We recommend serving this crisp with some ice cream. Plain vanilla is great, but if you’re feeling extra decadent, get some caramel-swirl in there. Enjoy!
Some of our favorite apple-picking locales:
Russell Orchards in Ipswich, MA (https://www.russellorchards.com)
To find an orchard in your area, check out: http://newenglandfallevents.com/massachusetts/harvest-and-food-festivals/
Apple inspired art by Rusty and Ingrid. This screen print was inspired by Russell Orchards in Ipswich, Massachusetts. It is available on our website.
Photography by: Rusty Kinnunen