Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gluten-Free Breakfast Apple Crisp

I wish I could say that I went apple picking and picked all the apples used in this crisp myself, but that would be a lie.  A big, big lie.  It would also be a lie if I said that I loved apple picking, because I've never actually gone.  It's unfortunate, because I'm sure I would love it, and also because there are lots of great apple farms on Long Island's North Fork.  I've made it my mission to go, and hopefully I'll get to go once before the season is over.  I'm ready to wear my flannel and pick as many apples as I can, and buy a good amount of cider and homemade preserves.  I have my plans all set, and now it's just a matter of actually, you know, doing them. It'll happen.  Until it happens, though, I've gone ahead and purchased the best apples I could find over the weekend, and made some apple treats.  I had a craving for all things apple, and just because I didn't have freshly picked apples didn't mean that I would leave that craving unfulfilled. 

I wanted to start off my apple baking with something that was simple and unfussy.  I wanted pie, but it required a little bit more effort than I was feeling over the weekend.  I decided to leave apple pie on my to-do list for another weekend, and taking the warm, bubbly apple cue from the pie, I decided to make a crisp instead. Juicy, sweetened apples with a buttery and crunchy topping...that's just what I needed!

Crisps are a dessert that you don't really need a recipe to make.  In fact, every time I make one, I typically just throw a good amount of fruit in a bowl, and add sugar, spices, lemon juice and a little cornstarch.  I toss everything together with my hands to combine everything really well, and then I pour the fruit filling into a baking dish.  The crumble comes together simply, and I just mix butter, flour, sugar, and oats together using quantities that I've practically memorized by now.  It's a simple process that always yields delicious results.The only thing I vary from crisp to crisp is the quantity of the sugar, in both the filling and the crumb topping. I'll adjust the amount of sugar I add to the filling based on the sweetness of the fruit, and I'll do the same for the topping.  In this case, I thought a breakfast-style crisp would be something really special to wake up to, so I dialed back on the sugar in the topping and added a bit of coconut and walnuts, just to give the topping a granola-like quality.   

Since I was making a dessert that was for the most part gluten-free to begin with, I figured I would take it all the way and make the topping gluten-free as well.  I consulted my America's Test Kitchen book once again, and decided to (sort of) follow their recipe for a gluten-free crisp topping.  Aside from substituting the almonds for walnuts and adding in shredded coconut, I more or less followed their ingredient guidelines.  I used the America's Test Kitchen gluten-free flour blend, since I still have a lot in my fridge, but for this recipe, I really think you could use any all purpose gluten free blend, since there's not very much flour to begin with.  While I didn't follow the ingredients exactly, I did follow their method to the letter.  I really liked that the topping came together in three short additions in the food processor, because it ended up having a nice variety of texture and crunch.  

I loved the way this crisp turned out, mostly because it wasn't a typical crisp.  Sure it was gluten-free, but honestly...you couldn't even tell.  Really! I was really excited about it, so much so, that I texted my mom a photo and told her how good it was as soon as I tasted it (she wasn't home when I pulled the crisps out of the oven). The apples were saucy and sweet, and perfectly tender.  The topping was beautifully golden brown and had a lovely crunch.  I added some raisins to the filling for an unexpected touch, and the combination with the warm apples was just perfect.  Cranberries would also be great in this crisp, but I love raisins, especially when they're plumped and warm.  The crisp isn't overly sweet, so I think it'd perfect for a light dessert or even an indulgent breakfast, if served with vanilla yogurt.  I typically serve crisps with ice cream, but I loved the combination of the crisp with the yogurt! Overall, this was a fantastic way to beat my serious apple craving.  It was everything I'd been dreaming of! The only thing that could have made it better is if I had picked the apples myself.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Breakfast Apple Crisp
topping recipe and method from the How Can it Be Gluten Free Cookbook


For the Filling

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 pounds peeled, chopped apples (I used Honeycrisp and Gala)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt

For the Topping

3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 oz gluten-free all purpose flour (I used the Test Kitchen flour blend)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch to create a smooth slurry.  Add in the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, cloves and salt, tossing to combine.  Divide the apple mixture among 8 1-cup ramekins.  Tightly cover each ramekin with aluminum foil and arrange all the ramekins on a baking sheet.  Bake the apple filling for 20 minutes. 

While the apple filling is baking, prepare the crumble topping.  In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1/2 cup walnuts. Pulse to roughly chop, about 5 times.  Add the gluten-free all purpose flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, butter, and coconut and pulse until large clumps form.  Add in the remaining oats and walnuts, and pulse twice, just to roughly chop them.

After 20 minutes, remove the ramekins from the oven.  Remove the foil and discard.  Crumble the topping over the apples and place back in the oven.  Bake for 25 minutes until the apples are bubbling and the tops are golden brown.  Allow the crisps to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or vanilla yogurt. Enjoy!

Makes 8 individual or 1 9-inch square crisp


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