Apple crisp

Last year for work, I wrote about my mother’s apple crisp recipes, which she actually got from a state 4-H type fair. It’s delicious and one of my favorite parts about fall. The fiance loves cider donuts; I love crisp.

Published Sept. 30, 2015, in the Concord Monitor

For as long as I can remember, going apple picking with my family was a fall tradition. My parents, little brother and I would pack into the car and drive about half an hour away to a small orchard run by a grizzly, bearded man.

As we neared the orchard, plywood signs announcing “APPLES” directed us down a dirt driveway.


We filled our canvas bags with Cortland, McIntosh, Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Gala apples. We snacked as we went, testing apples that were as crisp as the fall air.

Dad would get apples from the top branches, mom from the middle, and my brother and I would hop up to get the last remaining apples on the lower branches.

Then we weighed the apples and paid. Sometimes the farm’s owner would be there, snoozing in a rocking chair until it was time to pay. Sometimes, the farm store would be vacant, the farmer counting on people’s honesty to weigh the apples and add in the cost of whatever cider and honey they bought with a small school calculator.
We went every year. Even after I went to college, Mom and I would go on the Columbus Day long weekend.

For me, the most fun part was getting home and baking with the apples.

When I was young, we had a very old, hand-cranked apple peeler. My dad would pierce the apple on the spikes at the end of the device, and my brother and I would alternate turning the handle, creating curly ribbons of peel.

Then, my mom chopped up the apples and made apple crisp.

She uses a recipe she picked up at the Lancaster Fair more than two decades ago. It is very simple; there are only a few ingredients other than apples.

Carter Hill Orchard in Concord recommends using McIntosh apples or similar varieties for baking on its website. The apples are red with a green blush and usually ripen in late September.


enough apples to fill an 8-by-8-inch pan, about 8 to 10 medium apples

1 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cinnamon

Wash, peel, core and chop the apples into slices until the pan is mostly full.


Mix the flour, brown sugar and oatmeal. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks consistent. The topping will be dry and crumbly.

Spread the mixture over the top of the bed of apples.

Slowly pour the water over the dry mixture. I usually follow a sort of grid pattern of horizontal and vertical lines to make sure I moisten as much of the mixture as possible. You don’t want it to pool all in one corner.

Finish off with a sprinkling of cinnamon.


Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Apple crisp is best served warm with vanilla ice cream, much like apple pie.

Makes 9 to 12 servings.