Apple crumble and apple crisp are some of my favorite desserts to make with apples. They’re always delicious and take a lot less prep work than a regular apple pie – which means that I make them a lot more often. I like that an apple crumble can be simple, but that it is easy to put a new spin on it by changing up the spices, the sugars, the type of apples and even by adding whole grains to the mix.
This Whole Grain Maple Apple Crumble just might be my new favorite version of apple crumble. The crisp topping has a nice nuttiness to it – thanks both to whole grain flour and oatmeal – and both the topping and the filling have a subtle maple flavor that makes this crumble addictive. It isn’t too sweet and is a great contrast with the tender apples below. I happen to like a generous amount of topping on an apple crumble and this recipe is no exception to that, either! I tossed the apples in my filling (and you can use any kind of apples you like) with both sugar and maple syrup, and used maple sugar in the crumble topping. Maple sugar can be found at many specialty stores and is, at the moment, available at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have maple sugar, you can substitute brown sugar or add in a half teaspoon of maple extract to give the topping that maple element.
I prefer white whole wheat flour for this crumble because it lends just the right amount of whole wheat nuttiness for me. If you only have regular whole wheat flour, or prefer it, you can absolutely use that in the recipe instead. As a matter of fact, you can also use all purpose flour without changing anything and still get good results – so you can go whole grain or not whole grain and still have an absolutely delicious maple and apple dessert.
When I make Snickerdoodles, or other snickerdoodle-inspired baked goods, I often have leftover cinnamon-sugar mix leftover that I don’t have much use for. Typically, I keep it in a small bowl or plastic bag on the counter and use it up by sprinkling it on a bowl of oatmeal or on top of other baked goods (and sometimes I just make another batch of snickerdoodles!) to use it up. I liked having the extra cinnamon sugar around so much that I eventually just made up a big batch to keep in my pantry for whatever use might come up – and that is how I ended up with this Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cobbler.
This cobbler is a good basic apple cobbler recipe. The filling is made with apples and brown sugar, with a little bit of cornstarch just to help thicken up the apples’ juices as they bake. The cobbler is a biscuit-like dough that is dropped in clumps on top of the apple filling, spreading just enough to give the dish a homey, “cobbled-together” look. The cinnamon sugar mixture goes into the cobbler mix and is used to top off the dessert before baking. The topping layer is fairly generous, resulting in a sweet and slightly crisp “crust” to the cobbler when it is ready to serve. The apples themselves are unspiced, but the brown sugar gives them a real richness.
I would recommend using a good baking apple for this recipe, choosing either a sweeter or more tart apple according to your own preferences. I happened to use pippin apples in this batch. Try to cut the apples all to the same size so that they bake evenly in the cobbler, but if you like your apples to be verging-on-applesauce tender, cut the slices in half before using them and they’ll cook down even more. This crisp is best when it comes out of the oven and is served with vanilla ice cream. It does reheat well if you don’t eat it all in one sitting, and a warmed up bowl of cobbler makes a great breakfast dish, too.
In spite of the fact that I love to have apple pie around the 4th of July, I find that I often think of apple desserts as fall desserts. This is probably because there are far fewer fresh fruits to choose from at the end of the year when you compare the season with spring, when you have a plethora of in-season berries and stone fruits to compete with, and apples stand out as a great fruit that is also easy to get ahold of. There is no reason to ignore apples just because other fruits happen to be in season, as well. A much better solution is to combine apples with some other fruits to give dishes you might think of as fall fare a summertime twist.
A great example of this is this Blueberry Apple Crisp. Apple Crisp is always a warming fall favorite of mine, but adding fresh blueberries to it gives it a sweeter, jammier flavor that seems a lot more summery! There is a nice distinction between the berries and the apples in this dish, and it’s a good flavor combination overall. The topping for this dish is somewhere between a cake and a biscuit. It is tender and just sweet enough to balance the fruit, but has a nice, crisp top to it when it comes out of the oven. Adding a bit of oatmeal to the topping gives it a great flavor. I used quick cooking (1 minute not instant), but you could use whole rolled oats for a little extra texture.
You can use frozen berries with this recipe, but I would definitely opt for fresh if at all possible because they’ll hold their shape a little bit better during baking, while frozen berries will run and mix with the apples a bit more. As for the apples, you can use just about any kind you like. I wouldn’t go too tart, however, because the fruit goes into the dish unsweetened and apples that are too tart might overwhelm the berries and the lightly sweet topping. I used a mix of Fuji and Pink Lady apples and would definitely go that route again.