Apple crisps are one of my favorite apple desserts. They were popular in my family when I was growing up – even more popular than apple pie – so they really hit that nostalgic comfort-food note for me every time I take a bite. This Cinnamon Oatmeal Apple Crisp definitely tastes like the apple crisps of my childhood, but it is probably even more delicious. The apple crisp is made with loads of lightly sweetened apples topped with a buttery, crisp oatmeal and cinnamon topping that will remind you of oatmeal cookies, but better.
The recipe starts with lots of apples. You’ll need about 4 lbs of apples to fill up the baking pan completely and get a good ratio of apples to crisp topping. If your pan is on the deeper side, you can even throw an extra apple or two in there. The apples should be peeled, cored and cut in half. Each half should then be cut into six slices (make it 7 or 8 if your apples are particularly large). Aim to get the apple slices as even as possible so that they all cook through in the same amount of time.
The topping is easy to make and, though it tastes like oatmeal cookies, it doesn’t come together like a cookie dough. The dry ingredients are whisked together and then butter is cut in to make the mixture resemble wet sand. You can use a food processor, a pastry blender, or simply work the butter in by hand. You want the butter to be almost completely incorporated, not left in small chunks. Then, a few tablespoons of buttermilk are added and also stirred into the mixture (again, with the food processor or “cut in” with a pastry blender/fork). The buttermilk is used to help bind the crisp topping into slightly bigger chunks, not to make the dough wet or batter-like, which is why only a few tablespoons are added and the dough will still look dry when it has been incorporated.
Scatter the topping evenly over the apples and bake until the apples are bubbling and tender. In my oven, this takes about an hour, but it could take up to 10 additional minutes, depending on the variety of apple that you’re using, so don’t hesitate to leave the apples in the oven a bit longer if they’re not quite ready. Serve warm or allow to cool to room temperature before scooping out generous slices.
While I sometimes scale back my fruit cobbler and crisp recipes to fit into an 8-inch square pan, this one is made for a 9×13-inch pan and is large enough to serve a crowd. That being said, I will make it even when there isn’t a crowd to serve because it makes great leftovers and I have been known to munch my way through a whole tray of it in a couple of days. It’s great for breakfast, as well as for dessert!
Cinnamon Oatmeal Apple Crisp
4 lbs apples (8-9 apples, depending on size)
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Peel apples and remove the cores. Cut apples in half and cut each half into 6 slices (8 if using very large apples). In a large bowl, toss apple slices with flour, sugar and vanilla extract. Pour apples into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together oatmeal, flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Using a food processor (or a pastry blender or your fingertips) cut in butter until completely incorporated and mixture resembles damp sand. Add in buttermilk and pulse to combine (or cut in using a pastry blender/fork). Mixture should still resemble wet sand, but should have much larger clumps in it.
Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over the apples.
Bake for about 60-65 minutes, or until apples are tender and their juices are bubbling around the edges of the pan. If the juices of the apples are not bubbling, return crisp to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Serve warm or room temperature