october 10, 2014
Fondest memories of shopping roadside stands involve apples that grace markets with their myriad colors, aromas and levels of crisp-crunch. Apple season in Virginia starts tentatively, with Ginger Gold and Piney River Gold fruits making their debut, followed by Honey Crisp and then the endless palettes of the reds. Rome Beauty, Stayman Winesap, Red Delicious (nothing like the uber-polished tasteless pretties at the grocery stores), Empire and York, among others.
My favorite apple is any type one can incorporate into desserts. So, really, any apple will do, although I profess a fondness for super crisp and slightly tart apples for eating out of hand.
The reds have arrived and I say let the dessert making begin in earnest, and continue for as long as there are apples at the stands.
This crumble is like an upside down pie, with a cinnamon scented buttery crisp topping serving as our convoluted crust, and a sour cream custard, not too sweet, binding thin slices of twice cooked apples. Cooking the apple slices with butter, sugar and cinnamon until tender before baking avoids the problem of apple pileup, wherein your stack of fruit lies so high in the pan you can’t avoid overflow and there’s no room for custard or topping. I like walnuts in the crumble topping, but you can substitute pecans or almonds, or eliminate nuts altogether.
This dessert is easy, feeds a small crowd and may be enjoyed chilled, at room temperature (best, I think) or lightly warmed. Crowning with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream or cinnamon dusted whipped cream will elevate it from homey simplicity to elegant comfort food.
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes ten to twelve servings
2 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut in thin slices
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sour cream, preferably full fat
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose or gluten free flour (see apple cake with caramel glaze for my favorite homemade mix)
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup chopped walnuts
one stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
- Melt butter in heavy large wide skillet over medium heat, add apples and stir gently to coat.
- Add one half cup sugar and stir to coat all slices with sugar.
- Cover skillet, turn heat to medium low and cook, stirring gently once, until apples are softened but still hold their shape, about 7 minutes.
- Remove lid, turn heat to high and evaporate most of the liquid, until a light syrup coats apples, about 5 minutes; turn heat lower if needed to avoid scorching.
- Add one teaspoon cinnamon and stir gently to coat.
- Allow mixture to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- For sour cream custard, gently whisk eggs, sour cream, heavy cream, 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in small mixing bowl until blended.
- In larger mixing bowl, whisk flour, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar until combined, add walnuts and then work in butter bits with fingers until crumbly but some butter remains in tiny pieces.
- Butter 2 quart baking dish, add cooled apples, pour sour cream custard over apples and then top evenly with crumble topping.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until crumble appears puffed at edges and center no longer appears wobbly.
- Let settle at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving to allow custard to set.
- Serve at room temperature, chilled or lightly warmed.
- Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.