The best apple crunch recipe (2023)

why it works

  • Roasted walnuts, raw sugar, lemon zest, and grated nutmeg combine to create a simple, crunchy topping full of contrasting textures and flavors.
  • A blend of firm tart apples and softer baked apples provides a balance of flavor and texture.
  • A small amount of whiskey (scotch, bourbon, or rye) added to the fruit adds complexity to sweet apples.

The cake is great. Go ahead, you can do it.

Me? I will be here with Crispi, and I ask you to come with me.

Among the baked fruit desserts,pastelHe has a way of hogging the spotlight. And I understand. The buttery, flaky crust. The careful construction. The wide-abundant—American tradition behind. It's all very nice.

But the cake is a chore even for the experienced baker. (Okay, I'll be nice and call it "involved".) There's dough to make (but don't mix it too hard!) and rolling (but not too hard!). , almost perfect shape!). The cake is great. But even with Kenji it's easy.cake base recipeorStella's old-fashioned, no food processor requiredto Tortente, Cake is a pain in the ass.

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So what do we want from our fruit desserts? I'm going toFruit, front and center, and a lot. I want butter. I want crackles and crackles. And I want a hint of spice, just enough to make the fruit taste even more of itself.

Crisp does it all. In a fraction of the time it takes him to bake cakes, with an even less fraction of the work. There's more fruit, more flavor and texture in the butter/carb layer of treats, and you can start making one from scratch and have dessert ready in an hour. Show me a pie crust that offers you the same courtesy.

So let's make something crunchy.

In search of the perfect crunchy topping

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In themdirty world of fruit dessert taxonomy, a "crisp" is distinct from cobblers, crunchies, and crumbles. Shoemakers depend on some kind of dough. The crumbs specifically require oats. Crunch prefers breadcrumbs.

But crunchy, you can use crunchywalnuts, and that's where it gets interesting. Because nothing complements fruit quite like toasted nuts. (Yes, butter too. That goes without saying.)

For years I have relied on a wonderfully crunchy recipe from one of the best cooks I know: Suzanne Drexhage, who has spent a lot of time in Berkeley, California.In Panisseand now runs the kitchenBartavelleCoffee and wine bar.

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Suzanne's Crisp Topping relies on walnuts (the best walnuts), lemon zest, and lots of salt for a balanced mix of light, toasty flavors that work wonders with all kinds of fruit, but especially apples. you build it in afood processor, and it's ready to bake in minutes. As with all clever techniques, it's versatile - the only crunchy topping you'll ever need.

Over the years, I've taken liberties with his recipe and made it more and more my own, but until recently I've never really tested it in a particularly rigorous way. I thought it was finally time to break down the topping item by item and see how to turn it into the crunchiest topping imaginable. We'll see.

the nuts

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If you're looking for a deep, roasted flavor and a satisfying crunch, no good American walnut goes well with walnuts. Not much to take in here, except that when you go grocery shopping, walnut halves are generally better than crushed pieces (the former stay fresh longer). It also raises the question of going to the trouble of toasting the nuts before baking.

Should. Roasting the nuts, which you can do in the oven for this recipe while it's preheating, gives them an unparalleled depth of flavor. The chips will taste great without the toasted nuts, but this step will help them show up in the final product.

die butter

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For our purposes here, is there a difference between American unsalted butter and fancy, high-fat, mildly flavorful European butter?

I baked two batches of fries and was told so by the (blind) tasters. The trial? Our recipe expert Daniel definitely preferred the Plugra Butter Fries, a standard bearer of the European set, but others weren't so sure about the differences.

I'd say the fancier butter adds a little extra flavor to your fries. If you love butter and don't mind spending the extra money, go for it and brown the lily. But if you'd rather save the good stuff for spread on toast, the fries won't get any worse.

The sugar

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There are a dozen sugars that could taste crisp, but major supermarkets give you four options: pure white, light brown, dark brown, and (the bougie option) raw.

There are different types of raw sugar throughout the world., but the variety with the most standardized production process you're most likely to see in American foods is "Turbinado." It's a chunky, crystalline ingredient that's less refined than white or brown sugar, and its molasses impurities give it a delicate toffee-caramel flavor that I love for adding a subtle dose of depth to desserts. (brown sugarit is actually made by dosing refined white sugar with molasses).

What sugar is best for crunchies? White sugar is a mild and sweet dressing for a toothache. Brown sugars, both light and dark, fare better, but they build up to strong, tart notes of molasses that I think distract from the underlying fruit. In my opinion, raw sugar offers the best balance between unrefined complexity and pure flavor: it supports the fruit without overpowering it.

Although I'd be remiss not to mention that some of the Serious Eats tasters preferred the light brown sugar to the raw product; they just unearthed the rich, intense holiday flavor it imparts to apples. I disagree with them, but if you want that darker flavor in your chips, you can substitute the same amount of brown sugar in this recipe.

the spice

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Lemon Zest is a crunchy game changer that brings lightness and citrus fragrance to an otherwise heavy dessert. Have no fear: a whole tablespoon of lemon zest is not too much.

As for spices, cinnamon and cloves are bossy beasts, not what you need for a crunchy take-anywhere dressing. At home, my favorite spice is nutmeg, a spice related to but better than nutmeg in my opinion. Imagine a mix of nutmeg and coriander enhanced with citrus and cinnamon. Add to this the same nostril-expanding properties that nutmeg, mint, and basil share, then add the complexity of raw sugar. This is mace.

If you can find maces (it'sa lot online), I would suggest looking it up. But if you don't want to order online just to grab an apple crisp, the nutmeg is just plain peachy: assertive, but smart enough not to stomp on other ingredients.

But perhaps the most important seasoning to consider for French fries isSal, and a lot. Crisp is a sweet deal, and if you want to fully savor the fruit, nuts, lemons, butter, sugar, and spices vying for your attention, you'll need to be generous with the salt.

put it all together

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Once you figure out its sharp components, putting it together is a breeze (which is more than I can say for sureMiscellaneousDessert). This recipe is easy enough to remember and quick enough, with the help of a food processor, to whip up before the kitchen slave can finish the fruit.

And I mean every fruit. If it's fall, I'll stick with apples, but peaches, cranberries, rhubarb, plums, nectarines, and more go perfectly with this dressing.

Measure the dry ingredients

Measure and toast your pecans. Then she weighs out the flour and sugar. Yes,to weigh- Crispness does not have to be an exact process, but baking is improved by measuring in grams or ounces, not cups or quarts, and akitchen scalewell worth the small investment.

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Add your lemon zest, nutmeg, and salt, place the entire mixture in the food processor, and pulse a few times to combine everything evenly.

add the nuts

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Don't bother chopping your toasted nuts; Insert them directly into the machine and press a few times to start breaking them. You've got more throbbing ahead of you, so some whole walnut halves are just what you want right now.

add butter

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Cut the cold butter into small cubes and pulse in the food processor for a few seconds until the mixture comes together into a fluffy, floury dough. The texture you're looking for is different particle sizes, but not full cubes of butter. At this stage, a crunchy flavor is obtained full of contrasting textures but with an integrated flavor. If you pulse longer, you risk getting a sticky dough too soft to crisp in the oven.

Once your topping is ready, you can chill it in the fridge or freezer until ready to bake. It will keep for days in a sealed container.

prepare your fruit

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Crispy shouldn't distract you from the pure, fresh fruit flavor, so opt for light additives. When I'm feeling lazy, I just add a little salt and liquor (more on that in a bit) and bake. But if you don't make some adjustments, this will leave you with a watery layer of apples swimming in juices. For a firmer fruit layer, add a little cornstarch and sugar to bind the juices into a light gel.

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Thanks to Kenji's efforts, we know thatGolden Delicious apples become fleshy, not mushy, when baked, and they're your best bet if you're using a single apple in pie or French fries.

I mostly stick with Golden Delicious apples, but sometimes I choose a firmer, more tart apple, like a Fuji or Jonagold, just for a bit of contrast. Here you have the option. Oh, and don't bother peeling them—the peels add a welcome jolt of tartness and astringency.

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Speaking of liquor, nothing enhances the flavor of a potato quite like a shot or two of brown liquor. Applejack, bourbon, rye, and even Scotch (note that this also adds a lot of smoke) work well here, delivering notes of caramel and vanilla more effectively than vanilla extract. A light hand with the bottle ensures that the chip doesn't taste like alcohol, justbetter.

put in hedge

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With your fruit prepared, all you have to do now is cover and bake. For a light, crunchy texture in the topping, do not press it deeply into the fruit. Just scoop it out, nice and easy, and spread it around the edges of the pan in a roughly even layer. Some imperfections are okay. Remember, we don't make cakes. We don't need it to look pretty.


Your chip is ready when the coating is gritty, dry and firm to the touch, with no soft patches. Once the chip is done, do yourself a favor and let it least15 minutes before digging. The juices in the fruit layer take time to settle, and the rind will become even firmer and more cracked over time.

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And there you have it. A crumbly, buttery topping full of contrasting flavors and textures, red berry, hints of lemon, nutmeg and caramel...yes, that's enough.

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Pie, you were great, but I think we should meet with some other people.

October 2014

Recipe data



Active:20 minutes

Total:60 minutes

sirve:6 to 8 servings

rate and comment


For the crunchy topping:

  • 100gram all purpose flour(3 3/4 ounces; about 3/4 cup)

  • 165gramRohZucker, asturbocharged(5 3/4 ounces; about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon zest of 1 freshly grated lemon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg(See notes)

  • 1 tsp (4gram)sal kosher

  • 100gramtoastedpacanas(3 3/4 ounces; about 1 cup)

  • 145gram unsalted butter(5 ounces; 10 tablespoons), cut into small cubes and refrigerated

For Apple Dock:

  • 4 apples(preferably a mix of firm, tangy Fuji and Jonagold and milder Golden Delicious), skinned, seeded and diced

  • 3 tablespoon Zucker

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2gram)sal kosher

  • 2 tablespoon(30ml)bourbon, 100 or scottish


  1. To cover:Preheat the oven to 190°C. In a food processor, blend the flour, raw sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, and salt.

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  2. Add walnuts and pulse until walnuts begin to break down, 2 to 3 pulses. Some whole pecans should still be visible.

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  3. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to bake.

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  4. Assemble and bake:In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and whiskey until combined. Place in a 2 liter saucepan and top with the crispy topping and spread in an even layer over the bowl. Don't pack your hands down. Bake until the topping is darker, gritty to the touch, dry and firm to the touch, about 45 minutes. Allow the crisp to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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special equipment

2 liter saucepan,food processor


You can substitute 1 teaspoon (4 leaves) of nutmeg in place of the nutmeg for a more complex flavor.


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