Apple orchards are magical and enchanted places. When I bite into the first perfectly crisp apple of the season, whether at the green market or standing in an orchard, I laspe into a daze: what it is about that tart, musky flavor that enchants me? Where does it take me? There’s something magical in that mystery as I can never put my finger on it.
Even though my kitchen is exploding with apples this week, I must confess, I am not a huge apple eater. It’s the fall tradition of picking apples that I love, and I’ve been doing it yearly since moving to New York a decade ago. Every October we pack a picnic and leave the city early. The day always seems to be perfect, clear blue sky with just enough chill to pull you out of bed and into the country air. It’s an extra bonus if we catch some stunning foliage on our journey.
Last weekend we went to Liberty View Farm, near New Paltz, NY and leased an organic Cortland Apple tree. For $50 you get to pick out a tree, name it, picnic under it and enjoy its fruit for the season. It’s an absolute bargain if you cook, juice or eat a lot of apples and an absolute pleasure even if you don’t.
Apples are not the only attraction at the farm. Orchardist/Farmer Billiam van Roestenburg grows a small but vibrant selection of organic vegetables and his partner makes pies and pickles for their farm stand. I got to taste my first freshly pressed cider straight from their old fashioned cider press and pet a miniature goat, cute!
Liberty View Farm was recently reviewed here in Travel and Leisure magazine last month.
I made this crisp to take to a dinner party this week and we ate it warm with cream, but I was too distracted by good conversation to remember to take a photo of the fragrant juices bubbling below the golden crisp top or the lovely plates we ate from.
For those of you without access to maple sugar just replace with rapadura or succant. I usually use apple cider instead of water and maple syrup in the apple filling, but didn’t have any on hand. I like the apples to be on the tart side, a nice contrast to the topping.
It’s a very versatile recipe, add any berries, spices or nuts you like. Even the flours can be interchanged.
Apple Pecan Crisp
1 cup pecans
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/4 cup granulated rapadura or sucanat
large pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil is fine too
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 pounds apples, about 8 medium apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch dried ginger
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon arrowroot
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup water
Pre heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread Pecans on a cookie sheet and toast for 5 minutes, allow to cool, then coarsely chop. Place in a bowl and add oats, rice flour, spelt flour, almond meal, maple sugar, rapadura and salt. Mix well to combine. Drizzle in the coconut oil, mix until it’s even distributed with the dry ingredients, then stir in the vanilla and water. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Peel apples (sometimes I leave the skin on, but these were a little tough), core and cut into 1/5 inch slices. Place in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, toss well and pack into a 8 by 12 inch baking dish (slightly larger would work well, this was full!). Spread topping over apples and bake for about 45 minutes or until you see juices bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown and smells heavenly. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.