Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mom's Apple Crisp (Gluten Free)

October 1st will always be "Apple Crisp Day" to me. But not just any apple crisp, my mom’s now famous apple crisp.

My dad, along with his  business partner Steve, took a leap of faith and started their own engineering company on October 1, 1991. Those first years were not easy ones as they worked to get their business established. Lots of time and effort goes in to the creation of a company! I remember my dad working extremely long hours in those early days & also doing extensive traveling....

Amidst all the hard work, they did take time to celebrate. The company’s first anniversary was celebrated with cake, but, every anniversary since then has been celebrated with delicious apple crisp, made by my mom.

Fast forward 20+ years, and that same company, which started with two people in a tiny basement office of a downtown building, has since grown exponentially.  There are now more than 200 employees in over a dozen branches in different cities throughout the upper midwest!

It never ceases to amaze me when I remember where they started back in the early 90s and see how much things have changed today. What an incredible thing. I’m so proud of them :)

The apple crisp tradition continues still today. I have very fond memories of visiting Dad’s office every October 1st (or on a date near there) to help hand out pieces of crisp to every employee present. The employees who have been there for years & years have come to expect & anticipate the coming of apple crisp!

As many years as it is possible, the different offices will have an apple crisp celebration party all together via video link. And Mom has graciously shared her recipe with people in each office so that they might all share in the same signature dessert.  The main office has become so large that several employees volunteered to each make a couple pans of apple crisp, so that Mom isn’t making apple crisp for quite so many people...

A few years before Dad’s company was founded, my parents planted an apple tree in our back yard, and that apple tree has provided the fruit for many years’ crisps. Most years, the crazy tree produces SO MANY apples that my parents have to pick a bunch of the non-mature green apples early in the season so that their weight doesn’t break the limbs of the tree.

This year was different.  The tree decided not to produce a single apple, which meant my mom had to find a new source for apples this year.  But I have high hopes that next year their tree will be back to its overproducing ways :)

I haven’t lived in my hometown nor attended the annual anniversary celebration in several years. I also haven’t made mom’s recipe in quite some time because my body just hasn’t seemed to like oats (this recipe just isn’t the same without them). But I’ve been experimenting with trying Gluten Free Rolled Oats & so far I don’t seem to have the same unpleasant symptoms I’ve had in the past. Hurray! 

So this year, I made Mom’s recipe.  I scaled it down slightly, because I knew it wasn’t a good idea to have a 9x13 pan of apple crisp for just the two of us--I doubt I’d have any self control when it comes to a pan of apple crisp.  I used a little cornstarch (instead of flour) to help thicken the apple juices & substituted gluten free flour & gluten free oats in the topping.

The intoxicating smell of the cooking apples & the spices as the crisp baked permeated the whole apartment.  It was torture to wait the nearly two hours it took for the crisp to properly bake.  Even with the slight changes, the apple crisp was perfect. Though I wasn’t back with my parents to celebrate in person, we celebrated in spirit with our bowls of warm crisp topped with melting vanilla ice cream.  I tried not to lick the bowl :)

Happy Anniversary, AE2S!

Mom’s Apple Crisp
yields approximately 6 servings

3.5 oz / 0.5 c Granulated Sugar (may adjust depending on sweetness of apples)
2 tsp cornstarch 
2 tsp Cinnamon 
4 medium large apples (I used a mix of 3 Granny Smith & 1 Fuji, which came to about 21 oz once peeled, cored & sliced)

2.15 oz (0.5 c) Flour (I used Gluten Free)
1.75 oz (0.5 c) Rolled Oats (I used Gluten Free)
3.75 oz (0.5 c) Brown Sugar
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
pinch Sea Salt
2 oz (0.25 c) Unsalted Butter, cold

Ice Cream, for serving (optional, though not optional in my book!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8x8 square pan or a medium gratin dish with nonstick spray or a little softened butter.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Peel, core and slice the apples.  Mix in with the sugar mixture.  Pour into the greased pan & compress slightly . 
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces & use a pastry cutter or two forks (or very quickly work with your not hot fingers) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Keep the mixture slightly lumpy & crumbly.  Immediately distribute the crumb topping over the apples. 
  4. Place the finished pan on top of a rimmed pan (to collect any juices) and slide into the oven. Bake for between 60 and 90 minutes, or until the top is browned and the juices are bubbly--mine took close to 90.  
  5. Cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream. 
  6. Store any leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator.  Leftovers are great cold (even for breakfast, shhhh!) or warmed.  Consume within a couple of days.  
Notes: To any readers who are gluten free but can't eat oats (even if they are gluten free), make the same apple base & try topping it with my gluten free almond topping recipe.  


  1. I am eating a gluten free diet from last 2 months. I take it to reduce my weight.

  2. I came across your recipe while searching Pinterest for some gluten free dessert ideas. When I saw it, I KNEW I had to try it! This past Fall, my husband and I collected pounds and pounds of apples that grow wild here and we peeled, cored and froze them for later use. Your recipe fit the bill perfectly! Gluten free? Check! Apples? Check! I made it last night for Thanksgiving dessert and it was a complete hit. Absolutely delicious! Thank you. I think we've found a new holiday tradition in our house. :)

    1. That warms my heart! So glad you enjoyed it :)