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Warm up to autumn with apple crisp

Apple crisp

Autumn brings strong memories of going to orchards with my mother, grandmother and sister to enjoy the bounty of harvest – first and foremost apples ripe for picking.

The crisp afternoons of September weekends were the perfect way to spend a day roaming through the trees and filling baskets, except for an occasional apple or two that might not have found their way to the basket, instead making a detour to our stomachs.

After a couple of hours wandering among the trees, we would have more than enough apples to not only eat as they were, but to use in a multitude of dishes – whether diced in hot or cold cereal, adding sweetness to stuffing or applesauce, one of the first cooked products I was allowed to make with minimal supervision.

And, of course, apple pies were in the mix as well.

My grandmother, originally from South Carolina, had a rustic sensibility about her cooking. The simplicity of the ingredients blending with each other was one of the things which has stuck with me over the years and left a mark on my palate.

The old iron skillet was a staple in her kitchen. She could cook anything in it, from eggs and bacon to fried chicken to desserts. The versatility of this one tool amazed me. When I finally got my own, I started to look for some recipes that mirrored what I remembered from my youth.

With that in mind, I found a recipe which combined the simplicity of the Southern cooking style with the delicious bounty of apples available at the beginning of fall.

Apple crisp is a rustic, simple dessert that is not only delicious, but very easy to make. The versatile iron skillet is a perfect vessel to use when making it because it imparts a layer of flavor to an apple crisp that you just don't get from other methods. The way it reacts with the apples and other ingredients is almost magical, seeming to transform them into something that is well beyond the ease with which it is made.

And also looks pretty darn cool when it's presented on the table in the skillet.

This one-pan recipe goes from the stove top to the oven to the table with very little effort, but the result is something that is a fantastic ending to any fall meal. It can be enhanced with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of some homemade whipped cream for that extra little finishing touch.

It is with thanks to my grandmother and her style of cooking that I give you this recipe for a delicious fall treat. Gather around the table and enjoy!


Iron Skillet Apple Crisp

  • Filling
  • 6 apples
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Dash of salt
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp. cold butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Wash, peel, and thinly slice the apples.
  • Place 10-inch iron skillet over medium-low heat. Allow it to get up to temperature.
  • Melt butter in the skillet. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until combined.
  • Add apples to the skillet. Stir to coat with mixture.
  • Bring heat up to medium and cook until the apples are beginning to soften (about five minutes). Remove from heat.
  • Add all of the topping ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and work them together with a pastry cutter or fork. Alternatively, you can pulse the ingredients together in a food processor for 30-60 seconds.
  • Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apple filling in the skillet.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until the apples are tender and cooked through and the topping is golden-brown.
  • Serve with ice cream or fresh cream. Enjoy!

Article is written by Rowan College at Burlington County Edward Pratico for the college's monthly Courier-Post culinary column.