We are on the cusp of autumn here in the midwest, and this dish bridges the fruits of the seasons in a most comforting fashion. It’s a recipe that I think is worth making for the aroma alone. Apples and plums simmering on the stovetop calms my busy mind and reminds me that I have so much to be grateful for. As I look at these photos I celebrate the goodness of the harvest, the joyful opportunity to share kitchen projects with my niece, and the hopeful promise of friends and family who gather together around the table.
I learned the method of making an apple crisp by first cooking apples on the stovetop with sugar, lemon juice, and butter, from Nigel Slater via Orangette. His brilliant method begins by warming a pan of butter and allowing the fruit to release their natural juices and slightly caramelize before adding the topping and finally baking it altogether in the oven. In this instance, the purple plums cook down, bubble up, and turn the flesh of the chopped apples a brilliant ruby red. The color reminds me of those gorgeous sugar maple leaves at their peak of autumn transformation.
Cinnamon, oats, and walnuts finish off the sweet and tart fruit. No flour is necessary for this crisp topping, but there are many lovely toppings that you could choose instead. Be sure to use gluten free oats if you are not able to eat gluten. Enjoy it warm for breakfast or for dessert with a scoop of frozen whipped cream.
Plum Apple Oat Crisp
1/2 C brown sugar
4 T unsalted butter
Chop the apples and plums into bite-sized pieces. Juice the lemon. Mix together the apples, plums, lemon juice, and brown sugar in a bowl. In a large pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat. After the butter is melted and stops foaming, add the fruit mixture to the pan. Next comes the transformation! Lightly stir from time to time. It can take up to 20 minutes on the stovetop for the juices to begin to thicken. You will know that the magic has happened when the fruit is completely coated and the air is filled with that delicious Fall aroma.
While the fruit is on the stovetop, mix up the simple oat topping. Hand mixing works the best for me.
2 C quick cooking oats
1 C walnuts
1/2 C brown sugar
8 T unsalted butter
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t kosher salt
Transfer the caramelized, cooked fruit to a baking dish and evenly top with the oat mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven, or until the topping becomes golden.