You may not make homemade pie because you don’t like crust that much—or just don’t like wielding it.
You can enjoy the same baked apple flavor with a betty or crisp (a.k.a. crumble). The differences, along with dough-topped variations such as cobbler, grunt, pandowdy and slump, are below.
BEST APPLES FOR BAKING
When you bake apples, you need a variety with balance of sweet and tart flavors and, more importantly, flesh that doesn’t become mushy when cooked. These include:
Braeburn, with firm flesh and spicy-sweet flavor, also great for applesauce.
Cortland, related to the McIntosh (which is better for applesauce), both an eating and baking apple.
Fuji, sweet and juicy, good for eating and baking.
Gala, great for eating and baking, is sweeter than other apples, so you can cut back on added sugar.
Granny Smith, one of the most popular eating and baking apples.
Apple crisp: With a crumb topping, it is easier to make than a pie. Photo courtesy McCormick.
Honeycrisp, an all-around apple we love for eating, with a crispness and firmness that works for baking.
Jonagold, a cross of the Jonathan and Golden Delicious varieties; also great for applesauce.
Melrose, a cross between Red Delicious and Jonathan varieties.
Newtown Pippin, crisp with sweet-tart flesh.
Rhode Island Greening, very tart and distinctively flavored.
Northern Spy, harder crunchy and a great baking apple.
Rome Beauty, mildly sweet and tart, with a milder flavor than others.
Winesap, a tart-and-spicy apple that was our Nana’s favorite for baked apples.
Apple crisp à la mode. Photo courtesy Betty
RECIPE: EASY APPLE CRISP
7 cups apples peeled cored and sliced (you can substitute Asian pears)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
2-1/2 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
For the Cinnamon Topping
Optional garnish: crème fraîche, mascarpone, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon in a large baking dish. Pour water over apples.
2. PREPARE the topping. In a separate bowl, using a fork, cut the butter into the other listed ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. SPREAD the topping over fruit mixture. Bake in a 350°F preheated oven 50 minutes or until topping is golden brown. It’s that easy!
CRISP, CRUMBLE, COBBLER, ETC.: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
A crisp is a deep-dish fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping and baked. Similar dishes include:
Betty, a crisp topped with buttered bread crumbs instead of streusel. Some later recipes substitute graham cracker crumbs.
Buckle, a baked, bottom cake-like layer with the fruit mixed in, topped with a crumb layer (alternatively, the cake, fruit and crumbs can be three separate layers).
Cobbler, with a pastry top instead of a crumb top. The pastry is dropped from a spoon, the result resembling cobblestones.
Crisp, baked fruit filling covered with a crunchy topping which is crumbled over the top.
Crumble, the British word for crisp.
Grunt, a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit (fruit which is steamed, not baked).
Pandowdy or pan dowdy, a spoon pie with a rolled top crust that is broken up to allow the juices to come through.
Slump, another word for grunt, which can be baked or steamed, and can be made upside down.