In The Kitchen With Tori Aveyby Tori Avey October 3, 2017
In 1801 Johnny Appleseed, born John Chapman, began his barefoot westward trek from Massachusetts. At age 23 he set out for western Pennsylvania to stake his claim on the land by planting apple seedlings. In popular culture Johnny is often depicted as a tall, eccentric man in threadbare clothes and a soup pot hat, wandering and leaving behind a trail of apple trees. He is said to have never owned a home and preferred to sleep outdoors. While there may be some truth to his eccentricities, there was also an economic strategy to his method. He would begin by planting nurseries, then return a few years later to sell off the orchards, which helped him to establish a claim to land along the frontier.
Johnny considered himself a missionary, and would often preach in the areas where he was planting, spreading the word of his Swedenborg faith (inspired by Swedish scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg). Johnny started seedling nurseries in areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and parts of what is now considered West Virginia. He also planted and sold apple seeds. By the time of his death circa 1845 (the exact year is a common topic of dispute), Johnny had covered a 10,000-square-mile area. Many of his original apple trees can still be found growing in the orchards he planted.
Johnny’s apple trees were grown from seeds (rather than grafted), and produced a tart fruit, only suitable for making applejack and hard cider. This Old Fashioned Oat Nut Apple Crisp is sweetly spiced, the opposite of tart. I love to imagine Johnny, wearing his soup pot hat and sitting down to a warm serving of apple crisp topped with rich vanilla ice cream. With apple season now in full swing, it’s a great time to find affordable, quality fruit at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. I prefer to use green apples in the filling because they hold up so well when baked. I also use minute tapioca to thicken and soak up the excess liquid that collects in the bottom of the baking dish. This is optional, but I do recommend it for best results. The hearty, crunchy topping is made with a mixture of oats and nuts. You can easily make this recipe gluten free by omitting the flour and using gluten free certified oats. This old fashioned dessert is very easy to make and extremely satisfying.
Oat Nut Apple Crisp
2 1/2 lbs. green apples (6-7 medium or 5 large), peeled and cut into wedges
3 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp brown sugar, divided
1 tsp cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 tbsp minute tapioca (optional, but recommended)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats (for gluten free use certified GF rolled oats)
1 cup shelled walnuts or pecans (or a mix), whole or chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour (to make gluten free, you may omit)
1/8 tsp salt
5 tbsp chilled unsalted butter (or non hydrogenated margarine) cut into chunks
Nonstick cooking oil spray
You will also need: large mixing bowl, 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish or 9” pie dish
Total Time: 1 hour 20 min
Kosher Key: Dairy or Pareve – use margarine for pareve
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the apple slices in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp white sugar, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, minute tapioca and vanilla.
Stir the apples with the spices, tapioca and vanilla until they are fully and evenly coated. Let the apples stand for 15 minutes. Note: the tapioca is a thickener; you can make the crumble without it, but juices will collect at the bottom of the baking dish and the texture won’t be as nice. If you are skipping the tapioca there is no need to wait 15 minutes, you may proceed with the recipe.
Meanwhile, fit your food processor with a blade attachment. Add the oats, nuts, remaining ½ cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, flour, salt and butter chunks. Pulse the ingredients together until the butter is broken up and coarse crumbles form. If you don’t have a food processor, you may cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or two knives. In this case, use chopped nuts rather than whole.
Spray your baking dish with nonstick oil. Pour in the spiced apples along with any excess liquid from the bowl. Spread the apples out into an even layer in the dish.
Cover the top of the apple layer with an even layer of the oat mixture, making sure all of the apples are covered.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees F for 1 hour until the apples are baked through, the top is nicely browned and the edges are bubbly. Let the crisp stand for at least 10 minutes after you bake it to allow the juices to settle before serving.A