Monday, July 28, 2014

Testing Less Sugar Apple Crisp

When I was about 16 years old, a very long time ago, I started thinking ahead to one day getting married, having a family and cooking. At the time, I knew nothing of cooking, really. My sisters and I did on occasion try our hand at making a box cake. Making icing was somewhat less a success. With Mom's supervision, we made cookies for holidays. Though I didn't cook then, and did not until I was actually married and moved to Guatemala, I knew there would come a time for it. I began tearing out pages from some of Mom's magazines that had recipes sounding good to me at the time. 

One of the things I tore out was a little insert of a few pages on things to do with apples. From adding applesauce to meat loaf to desserts, this little flyer had it. The one recipe I took from there was an apple crisp. Ever since first making this recipe, I was totally in love. For me it is even better than apple pie, which is hard to beat. Mom never made an apple crisp, in my recollection. Her Mom made what she called an apple cake - not a cake at all but more like a deep dish sort of drier apple pie. I do not know what ever became of that recipe. I know I had it once. I know I tried making it once. It did not come out at all as I remembered, so I never made it again.
Less Sugar Apple Crisp

So back to the apple crisp. The recipe as it stood was small, filling only an 8 x 8" or 11 x 7" pan. I doubled the recipe later on and kept it that way, though some of the measurements had to be changed slightly to work better. I have made this recipe so often and for so long that I feel it is mine. The topping for this apple crisp is not your usual oatmeal topping, but a sort of streusel-like mixture given the texture by adding eggs. I have never ever seen a recipe like this anywhere else. I love it so much I have called it my Best Apple Crisp, Ever. I get nothing but raves, every time. It is so simple. Far easier and quicker than making a pie.


Lately I have had more difficulty keeping my blood glucose numbers at an acceptable level. I bought that Stevia in the Raw that is used cup for cup like sugar. I used it with less than perfect results in some "Half the Sugar Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies" recently. The cookies were good but with a texture I was less fond of. I am not crazy about the idea of maltodextrin being the main ingredient in that "stevia" either. I have it in the pantry though, so I will use it.

Sugar is a funny thing to try and replace. I am seeing this more now that I am experimenting with less or no sugar in recipes. Sugar creates moisture. Use less sugar, and a recipe is less moist. The cookies turned out somewhat dry and without the chewiness I associate with chocolate chip cookies. They were delicious. Just not what I wanted. The same happened with my apple crisp yesterday. I substituted a fourth of the brown sugar in the apples themselves, and a full half of the sugar in the topping with Stevia in the Raw. 

Another thing different in this recipe was the fact that I used dehydrated apples. I had a glut of apples coming to me last Fall, so when my freezer could hold no more I started slicing and dehydrating apples. I used 2 bags of what would have been 8 cups fresh apples EACH, setting them into a bowl of water to reconstitute. These dehydrated apples do grow, but not to original size. I used all these apples in a 9 x 13 pan, adding in the brown sugar and stevia, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg as usual for my recipe. The apples were moist all through. Yet they did not make the juicy sauce in the pan that I normally see. The topping is nice, though less moist, but that is fine as I like the topping crisp. The difficulty is that the apples did not compensate for the dry topping with the usual sauce. The flavors are perfect. It's just more dry. A little cream or ice cream would likely make the dryness less noticeable. Obviously this can be made with fresh apples also. Here is what I did:

Less-Sugar Apple Crisp
Less Sugar Apple Crisp

makes one 9 x 13-inch pan

8 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Stevia in the Raw
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Stevia in the Raw
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection). Place the first 6 ingredients into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and mix with spoon or hands to combine. Whisk together in a large bowl the first 5 topping ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs. Pour the eggs into the dry ingredients and quickly mix with a fork until the mixture looks like crumbs. Pour this over top of the apples in the baking dish. Drizzle the melted butter over top of the crumb mixture and sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the apples are bubbling.

When I had this in the oven I thought , "Drat! I could have tried making it Gluten-Free!" I have never attempted that either, though I cannot imagine why it would not work out. Particularly if made with all real sugar and no Stevia in the Raw. Another day.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.