03 November 2008

kitchen katastrophe: apple crisp

a few years ago, one of my best friends, whitnee, and i went to cologne, germany for a weekend-away (we were living in paris at the time). we stayed at a hotel, which was a splurge for us since we were students (rather than a hostel). it was incredibly exciting because they had one thing you absolutely can not find in france: free continental breakfast. we were ecstatic!

saturday morning we got up and headed down to get our fill of free food before it was gone. they had this interesting looking apple-baked thing, so we each took a piece. since it was rather dessert-y, we ate our full breakfast before trying the apple crumble concoction.


we went back for seconds. and thirds. and fourths. not fifths because by the fourth time we went up, we just grabbed three or four pieces at once. we couldn't get enough. we ate so much we made ourselves sick. we could not leave the hotel for the rest of the day - we had to lay in bed watching german MTV because we couldn't move. literally. but neither of us regretted it - it was that good.

since then and since returning to live in germany a few months ago, i have been on the lookout for the best apple crumble/strudel/crisp. i first searched high and low for apple strudels at every restaurant i went to: no go. they were too doughy. so now i have been on the look out for apple crumble, which is not as easy to come by. after reading the apple crsip post on our co-blog Leisurely Breakfast, i realized: i have to make it myself. and so we begin my first true baking adventure in deutschland.

i don't have a large, equipped kitchen, so i asked to use my friend jen's kitchen. she said yes (who would turn down homemade apple crisp??) and figured out what ingredients she had. since i'm in germany and searched for american recipes, i had to be careful to find one for which i could find all of the ingredients. i settled on this Apple Crisp recipe from betty crocker for two reasons:
1) it seemed easy (and therefore hard to mess up)
2) there weren't a lot of ingredients

Apple Crisp

4medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
3/4cup packed brown sugar
1/2cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cream or Ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.
2.Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.
3.Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with cream.

A few things:
First, apparently they don't make the same sort of "brown sugar" in germany that they do in the US. I am thinking of the kind that is slightly moist and very fine that you can pack and make into shapes (like cones and stuff - not animals). Here is the brown sugar I found in Germany:

can you tell that it's basically white sugar dyed brown? that's what it looked like to us.

in any case, here are all the ingredients put together (jen only had one measuring cup with american measurements, so i put everything else in these cut glasses):

the recipe is very easy because it basically calls for you to cut the apples (believe it or not jen had to give me directions on the proper way to "slice" an apple) and then mix the dry mixture. oh, i should also say that i didn't realize jen didn't have a baking pan or glass thingie to bake the apple crisp in so we ended up using the metal pie thingie from above that her mom had brought for her from the US.

putting the two together from above basically gives you this:

i was worried that the top mixture was too dry and was thinking of adding water or more butter, but jen told me that the apples would release moisture and help it get crispy. she was right.

as you can see, it doesn't look THAT much different once its cooked. the top looks a little more "cooked" but it looks very similar to the pre-baked version. you can tell it's done by poking the apples - once you can easily cut through them, it's ready.

in my attempt to make a pretty picture with ice cream, i dropped a beautiful scoop of VERY expensive Häagen-Dazs ice cream on to the floor (6 euros for a pint - that's nearly NINE DOLLARS). jen memorialized it:
the final product looked and tasted ok. jen thought it was too sweet, i thought it wasn't crumbly enough. maybe i didn't mix the topping part enough. oh, i also was supposed to add "softened" butter to the crumble, but i put it in the microwave and it half melted. that might have messed with the consistency of the topping.

definitely a recipe worth trying. and what have we learned from this experience?
1) when traveling to europe, bring your own american brown sugar
2) when checking to make sure you have all the ingredients, also make sure you have all the appliances (bakeware AND measuring cups in the right measurments)
3) don't throw ice cream on the floor. if you do, do not eat it, just let it go.
4) watch the microwave when you're trying to "soften" butter

looks like i'm still on the search for the best apple crumble...


  1. the ice cream on the floor cracked me up ...

    but danielle, that's raw sugar. cane sugar is naturally brown, the white stuff has been bleached. the stuff you need is baking sugar.

  2. oh I was just telling someone about that trip the other day... apple stuff = A MAZE ING!!!!!!

  3. [dave] - it's as if you're speaking greek. brown sugar, white stuff, baking sugar? i have no idea what the differences are. i know white sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar which i sometimes get confused with flour.

  4. and this is why i don't bake or cook... ingredients confuse me ;)

  5. Looks like you're going to have a little competition!!! I make a KILLER apple crisp seeing how it is my baby's FAVORITE dish. I'll post it as soon as I make another and have pictures to include.



LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs