My Mother’s Heirloom Apple Crisp

Heirloom Apple Crisp

 My mother’s recipe.
My source for heritage apples is and always will be Vintage Virginia Apples.  You can visit them at  They are fantastic people and have other good stuff for ya.  Tell Ms. Charlotte I said hello!
This recipe is my mother, Patricia Townsend’s own.  I’m mister heritage apple and all that but my mother is a master cook.  Since its Thanksgiving time, I figured it was time to put this up because it will be made!  Peaches are the replacement in the summer with some spice and flavor adjustments, but the crust as we call it remains the same.  The streusel topping screams Germany, but the taste screams Soul.  I like using good Southern apples for this dish and making sure all the ingredients are top notch because its so simple and complete as a recipe.  The fewer the ingredients, the better they need to be.
This particular crisp was made up of Detroit Reds, Albemarle Pippins, and one or two apple varieties I don’t really remember LOL! I brought a bunch back from Monticello and there was some of this and that in my bag!  This much I know—my friend, Tom Burford, a scholar, a gentleman, a master storyteller and probably the living bible of apple varieties once told me it takes four or five different apple varieties to make a perfect apple dessert.  Something tart, something sweet, something fragrant and something with an interesting texture. You can feel free to mix standard market varieties with heirlooms but do your research.  Make sure you have the taste balance  that  doesn’t overemphasize one of those flavors over the others.  I make my own vanilla from year to year with vodka or clear rum with Tahitian or Madagascar vanilla beans—if I don’t see the speckles its not vanilla.  If you’re really into the vanilla part of the deal–use vanilla sugar—put a few precious beans in a lot of sugar and use it sparingly.
This is my mother’s recipe, so its rare that I allow family secrets out of the bag.  There is a special ingredient or two but the recipe won’t be hurt if you don’t know what they are 🙂
Serves Me.
For the Apple Mixture:
Mix all of these ingredients together:
6 heritage or heirloom apples—large, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup of white granulated sugar or vanilla sugar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp or Ceylon cinnamon
1 tablespoon of Mexican vanilla extract or homemade steeped vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 30-35 minutes in the middle rack making sure to put something under the baking dish to catch any spillover.  Quickie version–microwave the apples with plastic wrap on the top to steam them–ten minutes or so until soft, then stir. Bake for half the time at the same temp as above with the crumble below.
The Crumble:
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of light brown sugar or 1/2 cup of Muscavado sugar mixed with 1/2 cup of white grandulated sugar
1 stick of cold butter or margarine–unsalted preferred
Mix by cutting together in flour/sugar mixture until you get the dough to a consistency of peas or until it is well blended and when squeezed by the handful it will stick together then break apart into a crumble.
Sprinkle over apples.  Bake for 10-15 minutes in the center of the oven.
Do not let the topping burn!  Golden brown does not mean burnt!  The top should be a perfect semi-crunchy streusel.

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