This is what my mom makes every 4th of July, in place of what may be more traditional: apple pie. I’ve never been a big fruit pie fan myself, so crumble has always been a favorite for me. This is one dessert that really could not be more simple! The crumble topping is just a rubbed together mixture of flour, sugar, and butter. The apples get a sprinkle or cinnamon and a tiny splash of water, but otherwise they are left untouched. The whole thing bakes up into a jammy, crumbly, crunchy, tart dessert that is basically irresistible.
You’ll have to do me the favor of ignoring the pie shell here in these photos. I was attempting to see if this magic would be improved with a base of crust. And while that might be something that would work, especially as a slab pie or bar, it’s really not necessary at all. I also suspect that this crumble topping would be suitable for any fruit you’d like to bake! The crumble is so simple it often tempts me to try futzing with it, so here are a few ideas I’ve been wondering about in case you’d like to try: toasted sugar instead of regular, brown sugar instead of white, adding lemon zest or part of a scrapped vanilla bean pod, using a whole wheat flour or semolina instead of white all purpose flour, replacing the water with whiskey or dark rum. The possibilities are endless, but really there’s nothing worth changing as this is a simple, satisfying classic that never fails to leave a polished clean plate.
A note on choosing an apple: I recently made this with granny smith’s from the grocery store and found they didn’t break down well and were alarmingly sweet. I say go with something local and organic, if possible!
4 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples.
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the sliced apples in a buttered 10x6x2 baking dish (or dish of a similar size).
Sprinkle apples with cinnamon, salt, and water and toss together.
In a bowl, rub together cold butter, flour, and sugar. Rub the mixture together until its incorporated and resembles a sandy texture.
Sprinkle the apples with the crumble mixture, and bake the crumble for 40 minutes or until lightly golden on the top.
Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!