At least in my home, fall is synonymous with feeling guilty about the slowly dying bag of apples staring at me from my kitchen corner. “YOU PLUCKED ME FROM A TREE FOR THIS? TO SIT HERE WATCHING YOU EAT SPOONFULS OF ICE CREAM BECAUSE YOU’VE DECIDED THE CALORIES DON’T COUNT IF YOU DON’T PUT IT IN A BOWL? DON’T AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH ME!” The bag silently screams, until it becomes foul and must leave.
But not this year! Oh no. This year I am armed with a plan, and now, so are you. Sure, you can do a ton of stuff with apples—so much stuff, really!—but here I am offering solutions that are both crazy easy and involve ingredients you likely have on hand already. These recipes are ordered by most (but still not very) difficult, to easiest/“these are ticking time bombs of rot and I just need to get them out of here.” So grab a peeler and pat yourself on the back; this year, apple picking is gonna give you more than just a handful of Instagram posts.
Baking apples like Golden Delicious, Gala, and Pink Lady are some of my favorites for the recipes below.
Galettes give you all of the “oooh” of pie without the “ahhhrgh” of nailing a pie crust. Not only do you get to free-style the crust shape, but it’s a heckuvalot easier to eat, too—just slice it up with a pizza cutter and share. If at any point you feel self-conscious over this under-complicated treat just remember: it’s not sloppy, it’s rustic. For a savory spin, top with blue or cheddar cheese during the last 10 minutes, or add a 1/4 cup of nuts to the bottom layer, underneath the apples. (Makes approximately 8 servings; takes approximately 3 1/2 hours)
Rimmed baking sheet
Ingredients for crust
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup rye or whole wheat flour (can also use more all-purpose flour)
1 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into big pieces
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons lemon or orange juice
Approximately ¼ cup very cold water
2 Tablespoons Turbinado sugar, for finishing
Ingredients for filling
3 cups peeled and sliced apples
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons each orange or lemon juice + zest
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Directions for the crust
1. In food processor or in a large bowl, pulse or mix together flour, sugar and salt. In a ½ measuring cup, lightly beat the egg with water until it is ½ cup.
2. Add butter to the flour mixture and pulse or use pastry cutter or your very own magical fingers to break up the butter. If using a food processor, do not over-process; you need chickpea-size chunks of butter.
3. Drizzle the egg + water mixture over the dough (up to ¼ cup) and pulse or stir until starts to come together, but is still mostly large crumbs.
4. Add orange juice and zest.
5. Dump dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat it together and out to make a flattened disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and let chill for 2 hours, or up to 3 days.
6. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch round (doesn’t have to be perfect! Remember: RUSTIC!). Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill while preparing the filling.
Directions for filling
1. Toss together the fruit, the salt, the juice and zest, and the cornstarch.
2. Pile the fruit into the dough circle, leaving a 1 ½-inch border.
3. Gently fold the pastry over the fruit, pleating to hold it in.
4. Brush pastry generously with leftover egg mixture. Sprinkle Turbinado sugar generously over the crust.
Directions for baking
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the filling bubbles up vigorously and the crust is golden. Cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack. Cut it like a pizza (!) and serve warm or at room temperature.
Guys, crisp is my FAVORITE. The streusel topping below is great on its own, but so easy to play around with by swapping out the cinnamon for your favorite flavors. Cardamom! Candied Bacon! And other ingredients that don’t necessarily start with the letter “c.” Even better, you can use the recipe below to make any fruit crisp you please so make extra crumble topping to keep in the freezer (or… spoiler!… for the next recipe). Future you will be very pleased. (Makes approximately 8 servings, takes approximately 1 ½ hours)
2-quart baking dish
Rimmed baking sheet
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt (reduce to ½ teaspoon if you add salty ingredients such as pecans or bacon)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or orange juice
1 tablespoon whiskey (or another tablespoon of lemon juice)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add the oats, then use your hands to toss and squeeze the mixture until large clumps form. Transfer the streusel mixture to the freezer to chill while you prepare apples.
3. In another large bowl, toss the apples with lemon or orange juice (whiskey if using), the other ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar.
4. Transfer the mix to a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and sprinkle with the streusel topping. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
And finally, you have arrived at the easiest recipe. Like, it’s so easy there could be a commercial where everyone tastes your amazing cider and applauds you for slaving away in the kitchen but then the camera cuts to a close-up of you winking at the camera, because you really just dumped ingredients in a pot then went back to binge-watching Netflix. Homemade cider is delicious and great for making use of lot of apples at once, and also keeping whiskey company. (Makes approximately 6 cups; takes approximately 1 hour)
Large pot, at least 5-quarts
Potato Masher (optional)
6 medium apples
6 cups water
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 fresh vanilla bean (or 1 tbsp extract)
1 whole star anise (optional)
2 orange peel slices
½ teaspoon ginger (optional)
½ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
½ to ½ cup whiskey (optional, to taste)
1. Wash and cut the apples into quarters. Add the apples and all ingredients except the vanilla and whiskey to the large pot with about 6-7 cups of water.
2. Heat uncovered over medium heat until boiling. Let the mixture boil for 30 minutes, then cover and simmer over low heat for 2 additional hours.
3. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and allow to thoroughly cool. Then, using a handheld potato masher or the bottom of a large glass, mash the apples.
4. Pour the cider through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove the pulp and
5. Add whiskey (if using), and serve warm. Can be stored up to a week in the fridge, but I’d be truly shocked if it wasn’t all devoured the first day.