Winter is upon us. What sight, sound, and smell symbolize winter for you? My ideal winter would have freshly fallen, white, fluffy snow, sleigh bells jingling as the horse-drawn sledge rides across the field of snow, and cinnamon-perfumed air. It will not snow here so no sleigh bells either, but the scent of cinnamon can happen. Around this time of feasts and festivities, my home is usually filled with cinnamon fragrant. My new next-door neighbor is probably wondering why she is catching whiffs of cinnamon scent since Thanksgiving. Well she needn’t worry because there are good reasons.
Reason #1: Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices for baking (and mood enhancer).
Reason #2: There is an apple tree in our neighborhood. It seems that it is only the worms and I who are helping ourselves to these sweet-tart, juicy fruits that are drooping the poor little tree. How can I resist these juicy organic apples? I know they are truly pesticide-free because the tell-tale signs of little worm holes! (and I hope I will not accidentally touch one for my and the worm’s sake as I go-a-picking). After enjoying apples as they are, I decided to find other ways to enjoy them…like baked sweets! (I have a terrible sweet tooth and have cavities to prove it 🙂 ). So with all these apples, I baked a Jacques Torres’s apple crisp for Thanksgiving this year. Everyone loved it.
Reason#3: The 2 Little Chefettes’s posted a challenge for this month: bake something sweet involving cinnamon. For this challenge, I baked another apple crisp. Last time in the preparation, I opted not to mix some flour mixture into the apples; this time I decided to add it into the apples so I increased the liquid to 1 cup instead of 1/4 cup as written in Jacques’s recipe because I wanted more liquid in the final product. I also used more flour, butter and added oatmeal to get more top crust and texture. It is gooey-cinnamon in the middle, a crunch on top, and not too sweet. It is perfect with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream.
- 10 crunch apples (add more apples if desired)
- 250 grams 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 140 grams 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed (set aside 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to sprinkle the top before baking)
- 170 grams 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cubed
- 2.6 grams 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 60 grams 2/3 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
- 65 grams 1/2 cup walnut chopped
- 8 ounces 1 cup apple cider
- Preheat the oven to 350 ℉ (176 ℃)
- Clean, peel, and core apples. Slice the apples in wedges and then chop into chunks, and put in mixing bowl. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar into apples, and toss them to mix. Set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl (or a food processor) add in flour, sugars, cubed butter, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or food processor (pulse) until the flour mixture looks crumbly with small chunks of butter still visible.
- Add the chopped walnuts and rolled oats to the flour-butter mixture, and stir to incorporate.
- Lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish with small pat of butter or vegetable cooking spray.
- Layer half of the apples into the baking dish and spread them evenly. Add half of the apple cider, and then spread half of the flour mixture on top of the apples. Now layer the rest of the apples, cider evenly, and sprinkle the remaining flour mixture on top of the apples.
- Sprinkle the top with remaining brown sugar
- Cover the baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove cover and bake for another 30 until the top is your desired shade of golden brown (golden to dark golden brown).
Serve it with vanilla ice cream and a good cup of coffee.
(Now, what to bake with the new batch of just-picked apples?)