I picked up a peck of “windfallen” apples the other day for 5 bucks. They’re not the prettiest apples for eating, but they’re great for baking. So I set off on Saturday to use a bunch (I still have a large bowl full I need to figure out something to do) with a few fall recipes. The first was applesauce made in the slow-cooker, then an apple cake for breakfast the next day, and also an apple-pear crisp for dessert that night. I ended up with granny smith, red & golden delicious, and braeburn. The assortment of flavors complemented all of these recipes.
David Lebovitz’s recipe for the apple-pear crisp called for grappa-soaked raisins. Since I did not have any grappa in the house, I used red wine, and I think the taste turned out well. It wasn’t my favorite crisp, but it was tasty and the husband enjoyed it. I think I just prefer what I grew up with – an apple crisp with an oat streusel topping. This recipe is adapted from Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes.
Apple-Pear Crisp with Wine-Soaked Raisins and Polenta Topping
¾ cup raisins
3 T red wine
6 medium apples
4 medium ripe pears
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup walnuts, almonds, or pecans, toasted
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup polenta or stone-ground cornmeal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the raisins and wine and let stand until most of the wine has been absorbed, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel and core the apples* and pears and cut them into 1/3 inch slices. Add the apples and pear slices to the wine-soaked raisins along with the granulated sugar and vanilla. Toss well, then pack the mixture firmly into a 2-quart baking dish.
To make the topping, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, nuts, brown sugar, polenta or cornmeal, and cinnamon a few times to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is finely broken up. Continue to pulse until the mixture just begins to clump together.
Scatter the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit is tenders, about 50 minutes.
*Note: I like to use an apple peeler and corer, like the one pictured here: Progressive International Apple Peeler and Corer It makes preparing dishes like crisps, pies, applesauce so much easier!