It is "crisp season" here in western Massachusetts. Crisp as in the coming weather and the fall of the deciduous trees' leaves and crisp as in fruit crisp - that typically American dessert of fall and winter.
For years, I searched for the perfect fruit crisp recipe. Every time I made one, it wasn't quite to my liking. One evening we were invited to our friends Peggy and Clara's house and they served the absolutely most perfect apple crisp. Clara passed along her recipe and each fall I make it. It is perfect for after dinner or breakfast the next few days. I've made it with apples and peaches, and plums, and frequently throw in odds and ends of frozen raspberries, blueberries, even grapes. Here's Clara's recipe and following are two picks of mine for most favorite local fruit orchards here in the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts.
Clara's Fruit Crisp
For the crisp topping:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup walnuts or more
For the fruit:
6-8 cups of peeled fruit
juice of a half a lemon (2-3 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of salt
1. Mix the topping ingredients together.
2. Peel and slice the fruit and place in a buttered deep pie plate or casserole dish. I use a deep pottery dish that is 10" wide. Add the remaining ingredients and still to get the cornstarch to smooth out. Sometimes the dish is really full of fruit and sometimes not. Scatter the topping over the fruit and tamp down slightly. Using a knife, put a few airholes in the topping.
3. Bake at 375 for about 45-60 minutes. Fruit should be cooked through and bubbling up on the sides. Let cool slightly. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or just plain. Very nice for breakfast too.
And now for a couple recommendations.....
The apples are beginning to ripen here in western Mass and luckily for the fruit growing orchards, folks can socially distance and pick apples safely. There are many orchards to choose from. Here are two of my faves:
Apex Orchards in Shelburne where the view is unreal. They have recently built a new farmstore and if you don't want to pick, there are plenty of varieties of already picked fruit.
Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield is a fourth generation fruit farm that has over 100 varieties of apples, peaches and more growing on their hillsides. In the fall, they offer mixed bags of all kinds of fruit perfect for pies. Clarkdale was the orchard that my mother-in-law Betty always bought her fruit from and Julia and I have continued that tradition visiting their stand each year before Thanksgiving.
Also Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield, a beautiful drive, beautiful views, and they make their own really wonderful apple cider vinegar. Best of all they are organic, because conventional apples are grown with a lot of pesticides. Alas this year due to the drought there is no pick-your-own.
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