I have a bad habit that I must confess. Every year when autumn rolls in I can feel an excitement growing in my bones. The crisp and cool air swirling through the trees is like a siren call that pulls me to the orchard, with no concern for what may follow. Romantic as it sounds, this lust for orchard fruits often leaves me with a glut of apples sitting on the counter or in the basement cold storage long after the apple-sauce has been made.
Last year while staring down a bushel of apples, intimidation mounting with each passing minute, I hatched a plan — apple crisp! Possibly one of my favourite desserts, fruit crisps and crumbles are gorgeous after-dinner treats that celebrate autumn’s bounty of fruit with perfectly balanced spices and a bit of crunch. With only two of us in the house, however, a whole tray of dessert would be asking for trouble.
I wondered why one doesn’t have apple crisp for breakfast. Surely it’s the same thing only the oats are toasted up and the apples softened? I went back to my favourite dessert version of an apple crisp and spotted the problem. Dessert crisps and crumbles can be laden with sugar, flour and butter and can feel too indulgent for first thing in the morning. Looking through the pantry, I made a few substitutions and reductions and I think I’ve come up with a real winner with my Apple Crisp Breakfast Bake. It can also made ahead!
My savoury take on apples was inspired by a dish served at a dinner party last fall. Alongside a beautiful roast pork came a dish of roasted apples and butternut squash, glazed in their buttery juices and seasonal herbs. I borrowed the flavour combination and created my own version, which sees the flavours coming together in a beautifully fanned-out French tian-style dish. The herbs and butter bring the naturally sweet notes of the squash and apple together as a perfect side dish for an autumn feast.
This October, get out to your local orchard and pick a couple bushels of cooking apples. There are many great options available on PEI, with my favourites being Cortland, Gingergold, and Honeycrisp. Controversially, I first made the Breakfast Crisp with a pile of Golden Russets and it turned out great, though they’re not classed as a baking apple. Feel free to experiment and savour the great variety in flavour, texture, and colour that all of PEI’s apples have to offer. See you in the orchards!
Dear Salty Readers, After an exciting and fulfilling year of sharing my recipes with you, my time in the pages of this fine, landmark publication is coming to a close. It has been such a joy bringing you into my kitchen and I hope that my recipes have been as fun for you to make as they were for me to write. It’s time for some new voices to take the reins, and I want to thank everyone on the Salty team and our dedicated readers for the opportunity to share some of my favourite dishes with you.
medium PEI apples
tbsp brown sugar
tbsp lemon juice
tsp sea salt
cup rolled oats
cup almond flour
tbsp coconut oil
cup maple syrup
cup chopped hazel nuts
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Core and cut the apples into 1" chunks and spread them out in a 10"x10" roasting pan, or whatever size you have to hand (it's cooking, not an exact science). Toss in the lemon juice and cinnamon and coat the apples evenly. Set aside for now.
Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat. Meanwhile, mix the oats, almond flour, salt, and hazelnuts together in a bowl. Once the coconut oil has fully melted, tip in the oat mixture and stir to mix it all together. Pour on the maple syrup and mix again.
Once the crisp topping is fully mixed, spread it over the apples and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. If you want the crisp browned a bit more, leave it in for 5 more minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and serve after about 15 minutes of cooling. If you’re preparing it a as a make-ahead dish, cool it completely, cover it with foil and then store in the fridge overnight. In the morning, reheat at about 250 degrees Fahrenheit as you make your coffee. It'll heat even faster if portioned out into smaller oven-proof dishes. Feel free to top with some greek yogurt for an added protein boost! Yum!
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