If you’re too tired to make an apple pie from scratch, apple crisps are pretty much the same thing, except without the pie shell. Known as ‘apple crisp’ in the United States and ‘apple crumble’ across the pond,(Canada, Australia and New Zealand), apple crisp should be added to your list of go-to dessert recipes for when you’re short on ideas, or time.
Most crumble recipes originated in Britain during the 2nd World War; the ingredients were being rationed and baking a complete pie requires a lot more flour, sugar and butter than they had available at the time. To combat this, they simply used the ingredients they had on hand to make the top crumble. Even though apple crisps/crumbles have modest origins, I actually prefer them to apple pies. The simplicity in the method and ingredients aside, you’re actually consuming quite a bit of fiber and way less butter and flour when you’re choosing apple crisp over a traditional apple pie!
The combination of the apples, cinnamon and vanilla will fill your home with the most soul-soothing aroma– it’s going to be hard to not get hooked! You have been warned. I normally make apple crisps when I need a quick pick-me-up, as it only takes about 20-30 minutes to prepare everything, after which you’re free to do as you please once it’s baking in the oven.
I chose to use coconut sugar, however, you can use regular white sugar or brown sugar. Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar, is made from the dehydrated sap of the coconut palm. Not only does the coconut sugar add to the crumbly and buttery taste and texture you want in an apple crisp, but it also provides minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc and iron, as well as short chain fatty acids such as polyphenols. On top of that, It also retains its fiber content.
I usually turn to coconut sugar whenever I’m baking as I really like to try to infuse as many different layers of smells and subtle flavours as I can when making desserts. The coconut sugar adds a little something to the overall aroma of the apple crisp, and that’s exactly what we want when baking– talk about aromatherapy!
This recipe only calls for throwing a bunch of ingredients together and baking them. That’s it –no special skills required! And most of the ingredients are probably already sitting in your pantry, like the oats, sugar and apples. If you have single serving pie dishes, you can simply divide the filling and topping mixtures amongst them. This recipe will yield about 4 or 5 servings depending on the size of the dish. I didn’t have any mini pie dishes so I just went ahead and used a deep pie dish.
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp Recipe
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ cup granulated brown sugar
- 10 medium sized Gala apples - really you can use any apple you like!
- A handful of dried goji berries
- 6 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¾ cup coconut Flour
- 1 cup rolled oats - I used the gluten free kind
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp sea salt - regular salt is also fine
- 200 g plant based butter / softened coconut oil
Create the filling
Preheat oven to 175°C / 347°F. Wash and cut the apples -- cut 7 apples into ½ inch pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
Squeeze half a lemon over the apple slices. Alternatively you can also use 3 tbsp of orange juice.
Add coconut flour, granulated brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix well, ensuring all the apple slices are well coated.
Grate the remaining three apples.
In a non-stick pan, heat the butter and sugar on medium low heat until the mixture starts to bubble.
Add corn flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder and the grated apples, cook for 5 minutes, or until the grated apples start to disintegrate.
Add the chopped apples to the pan. Cook until the apples have softened.
Pour the apple filling into a deep pie dish. Leave aside while you make the topping.
Create the topping
Mix the butter, flour, salt, and oats in the same bowl you used to mix the apples and the spices. You can use your hands to “press” the flour and oats into the butter until you get a very crumbly texture.
Evenly cover the apples with the topping. If you like a very crumbly topping, take small handfulls of the topping mixture and squeeze with your hands to make little clumps before dropping onto the apples.
After the apples are fully covered with the topping, go ahead and place dish in a preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes at 175°C / 347°F, or until the topping is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This dessert tastes even better when left in the fridge overnight!
*Optional – chopped hazelnuts, or almond flakes, for that extra crunch. Even though this is a vegan recipe, you can switch out the plant based ingredients for their dairy counterparts if you prefer. You can also omit the goji berries, but adding them to the crisp will really increase the nutritional value.
Step-by-step Filling Method
STEP ONE – WASH AND CUT APPLES
Wash and cut 7 apples into ½ inch pieces and place into a mixing bowl. (You can make the apple pieces as big or small as you like, I prefer my apples cut to smaller pieces.)
STEP TWO – ADD LEMON JUICE
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon onto the cut apples. You can add the zest if you like, for extra brightness and tang, but it’s not absolutely necessary. If you don’t have lemons on hand you can also substitute the lemon juice with 3 tbsp of orange juice.
STEP THREE – ADD SPICES AND MIX
Add the cinnamon and coconut flour. We need to add a little coconut flour to the filling just to thicken it up a little. With traditional apple crisp recipes that call for regular white flour, the flour mixture from the topping will melt together and flow down into the apples, and the gluten in the flour helps them stick together somewhat. So to create a similar texture without the gluten, we’ll need to add flour to both the topping and the filling.
STEP FOUR – GRATE APPLES
With the remaining apples, after washing and cutting out the core, grate them into a bowl. Doing this will create sort of a purée, as it will further disintegrate when you cook it in the caramel, and will act as a really nice, thick applesauce base for the apple pieces to cook in while it all bakes.
STEP FIVE – MAKE CARAMEL SAUCE
In a non-stick pan, melt about 6 tbsp of butter on medium heat, add the sugar and stir constantly until it starts to bubble.
STEP SIX – COOK THE GRATED APPLES
Once the caramel sauce has begun to bubble, add the grated apples, goji berries, spices and corn flour to the mixture. Constantly stir until the grated apples begin to break apart. Goji berries become really sweet when cooked. This will add another dimension of sweetness and a subtle flavour to the apple crisp.
STEP SEVEN – ADD THE CHOPPED APPLES
Once the grated apples have melted into the caramel, you can now add the chopped apples to the pan. Cook until the apples have softened. Doing this will cut the baking time almost in half, and it ensures that the apples will come out nice and soft. However, if you’d like the apples in your apple crisp to retain some crunch, just mix it in with the caramel sauce before pouring it into the baking dish. You’ll want to put aside the mixing bowl that the apples were in to use when mixing the topping ingredients later– we don’t want to waste all that delicious flavour that’s left over in the bowl!
STEP EIGHT – BAKING DISH
Once the apple pieces have been pre-cooked in the caramel sauce, pour the entire mixture into a baking dish, making sure the apples are evenly leveled out, and leave aside while you make the topping.
In the same bowl you used to mix the apples, lemon juice and cinnamon in, mix together the coconut flour, coconut sugar, butter, salt, vanilla extract, corn flour and oats. Use a fork to cut everything into the butter.
STEP ONE – SPRINKLE ON THE TOPPING
Once the mixture has become moist and clumpy, pour it out onto the apples. Still using a fork, very gently even out the topping mixture over the apples, patting it down lightly. If you prefer a really chunky and crunchy topping, use your hands to form clumps while placing it over the apples.
STEP TWO – BAKE
After the apples are fully covered with the topping, put the baking dish on a baking sheet, and place in a preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes at 175°C / 347°F, or until the topping is golden brown.
STEP THREE – LEAVE TO REST
Turn the oven off, leave the oven door half open and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This will taste even better when left in the fridge overnight! You can reheat it in the oven for 15 minutes at 275°F/190°C, but make sure you cover it with foil for the first 10 minutes so that the topping doesn’t burn.
This crunchy, yet soft and gooey crisp is best served still warm from the oven with a scoop of ice cream or simply with a light sprinkling of cinnamon. Although most crisp recipes call for peeling away the apple skin, I would highly suggest leaving it on, as removing it would mean stripping away valuable flavour and nutrients. In fact, most of the benefits that come from eating apples only actually apply if you eat the apple with the skin –just Google it!
Leaving the skin on will also make the apple crisp look more aesthetically pleasing as you’ll be able to see the lovely pops of red against the nice golden brown crumble topping. A treat for all your senses for sure. Instead of goji berries, you can use sultanas, or cranberries instead. To add more crunch add a cup of muesli to the topping mixture instead of oats. I can assure you that as long you have the base ingredients down, you can’t go wrong.