Apples and pears baked with orange juice and zest. Top the Apple Pear Crisp with crumbly spiced walnuts, honey, butter and oats and you have one of fall’s most perfect desserts. A fruit crisp, so much easier than making a pie. Yet all the same delicious, tender bites and homey fall kitchen smells of baking apples and spice.
My Mom’s green Pyrex baking dish
I just finished a Google search on the off-chance I’d find information on the vintage green Pyrex baking dish I inherited from my Mom. This was her baking dish of choice for making apple crisp. . .and mine, too.
What a lovely surprise to find a treasure trove of information on the Correlle Corner website. My Mom’s favorite baking dish is labeled as a “Heinz Forest Green 507 (1 ¾ quart) baking dish.” I loved reading its history.
It was ‘designed exclusively for H.J. Heinz Co.’ and offered in an autumn 1953 promotion. By purchasing three cans of Heinz products, the baking dish could be obtained for an additional 79¢ at participating grocery stores. The colour was described as “soft forest green”, and it seems to match the Heinz baked beans label.
Time and again my will power was mightily tempted by my Mom’s fragrant apple crisp with its gorgeous golden oat topping. The sweet and crunchy topping was my favorite part. I remember one afternoon when home alone, I ate a great deal of the still-warm topping spoonful by spoonful. With no one to stop me, I must have enjoyed half of it before I heard her footsteps in the laundry room. I leave the rest of the story to your imagination.
Anyone else have one of these 1953 baking dishes? Really the perfect size for so many recipes.
My secret for a crispy, Crisp Topping
You know that soggy layer of crisp topping you often find in fruit crisps just above the fruit? I only call my technique a secret because every recipe I’ve researched puts the topping directly on top of the fruit in the beginning. They then bake everything together. The juicy filling blends with the flour and makes for a soggy bottom to the topping. Fortunately the heat of the oven makes for a crispy topping.
So, here’s my secret in 2 easy steps:
- Cover the dish with the fruit filling with foil. Bake 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil. Top the fruit with the crisp topping. Bake another 30 minutes or more until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is tender when pierced with a fork.
Leave the peel on
You’ll notice I leave the peels on the fruit in this Apple Pear Crisp. Especially odd given that apples continue to top the Environmental Working Group’s list as having the greatest amount of pesticide residue of all fifty fruits and vegetables tested. To avoid the pesticide residue, choose organic apples whenever possible. FYI, pears come in at number nineteen, so they, too, have a considerable amount of pesticide residue.
When not possible to choose organically grown fruit, follow this advice from the World’s Healthiest Foods:
The skin of the apple is unusually rich in nutrients, and even if the recipe you’ve chosen requires peeled apples, consider leaving the skins on to receive the unique benefits found in the skins. Ideally, of course, choose organic apples to avoid problems related to pesticide residues and other contaminants on the skins. If you cannot obtain organic apples, and you are willing to accept some level of risk related to consumption of residues on the apple skins, we believe that it can still be a good trade-off between nutrients and contaminants if you leave the skin of the apple intact and eat the apple unpeeled. Just be sure to thoroughly rinse the entire apple under a stream of pure water while gently scrubbing the skin with a natural bristle brush for 10-15 seconds.
Like a pie without a bottom crust, a fruit crisp has a crunchy and delicious crumb topping. Being easier to make than a pie, the recipe for Apple Pear Crisp also requires less time to prepare. Making it a great any-time dessert for gatherings large and small.
- Make the topping gluten-free, substitute oat or rice flour for the whole wheat pastry flour.
- Make it dairy-free, substitute cold coconut oil for the butter.
- Choose one variety of apple or pear, or a mixture of varieties, such as Gala, Braeburn and Fuji apples and Bartlett or Bosc pears. The pears hold their shape better if they are just barely ripe.
- As apples and pears have much of their nutrition in the skin, don’t peel them.
One 7 x 9-inch pan, 6-9 servings Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 75 minutes
1 tablespoon light, local honey
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ½ cups cored and ¼-inch sliced almost ripe pears (about 2 pears)
5 ½ cups cored and ¼-inch sliced apples (about 3 apples)
1/3 cup walnut halves and pieces
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons light, local honey
¼ cup (2 ounces) cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray.
- Prepare the filling: Combine the honey, orange zest and juice and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss with the sliced apples and pears. Transfer everything into the prepared baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Prepare the topping: Place the walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes in the same oven with the fruit, until the nuts are lightly toasted. Set the nuts aside to cool.
- Place the flour, spices and honey in the bowl of a food processor. Use the pulse button to quickly combine the ingredients. Scrape any honey off the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the butter and pulse a few more times to distribute it. Keep the mixture very crumbly. Add the lightly toasted walnuts. Pulse a couple of times to coarsely chop them. Add the rolled oats and pulse a few times to combine. Store the topping in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven. Remove the foil. Top the fruit with an even layer of the crisp topping. Place the baking dish on a rimmed cookie sheet to catch any overflow. Bake 30 minutes or more until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is tender when pierced with a fork.
- Serve Apple Pear Crisp warm, at room temperature or directly from the refrigerator. For a special treat add a dollop of Greek Honey Yogurt, your favorite ice cream or a spoonful of lightly sweetened whipped cream.