When fall rolls around, it comes with a bountiful harvest of new fruits and vegetables. Including an all time favorite—the apple. I’m always surprised by the variety of apples I find in Oregon. Growing up, it seemed like there were only two: red and green. But after roaming the farmers’ market here in Portland, I discovered there’s truly a multitude of choices: the yellow Gold Delicious, apples that are green on the outside and pink on the inside—aptly named Pink Peals, big ones such as Wolf Rivers that can easily rival the size of grapefruit and then there are small ones the size of cherries.
This season, it’s the pretty Pink Pearls I’m baking with. And what i’m baking is a delectably good apple crisp—or crumble if you want to be nitpicky. Some argue crisps don’t contain rolled oats, though others simply cite it as a geographical difference—Americans and Canadians prefer to use the name “crisp” while Australians and the Brits use the name “crumble.” So what sets crisp and crumbles apart from pie, cobblers, buckles, and brown betties? Aren’t they all just a variation of butter, sugar, and flour? Well, yes, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s a breakdown:
- When it comes to cobblers, they are topped with individually dropped biscuits. Pie on the other hand is topped with…well, pie crust. Hm.
- A buckle is more similar to cake than it is to crisps and crumbles. On a buckle, the fruit sits on top of a cakey dough that rises around the fruit and makes the whole thing buckle inwards (hence the name). Think of it as something similar to a galette (a free-form pie), but instead of using a pie dough recipe, it uses a cake dough.
- A brown betty is somewhere in between a buckle and crisp. Although it uses the same kind of dough as a crisp and crumble (which produces the same crunchy texture), it encases the fruit with both a top and bottom layer of crunch, making it similar to cake.
Regardless of the name or what variation you prefer, there is much to be adored in this rustic crisp/crumble recipe. Notably the layers: One made up of sugary, toasty crumbs highlighted by a snickerdoodle cookie flavor, followed by the other starring cinnamon-tossed baked apples. And when topped with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream? It’s heaven.
For more from Michelle Lopez, check out her sweet hunger-inducing blog Hummingbird High.