We went apple picking last Monday and brought home a half bushel — that’s about 20 lbs. — of apples.  One week later, only five remain in the bottom of the bag.  The rest have been sliced, diced, grated, baked, sauced, or eaten raw — a team effort (at least the eating part) to be sure.

Having polished off last week’s pie and diligently stocked the freezer with three quarts of sauce, this afternoon’s project was a giant apple crumble.  I wanted it just sweet and buttery enough to make a satisfying dessert, yet not too rich to serve for breakfast with a few spoonfuls of yogurt.  (For breakfast?  Yes, breakfast.  Such are the sacrifices one makes after picking a half bushel.)

If you’re headed out to the orchard — or the farmers’ market — this week with baking in mind, choose you apples wisely.  My all time favorites for pies, crisps, cobblers, and crumbles are tart and sturdy:  Northern Spy, Pink Lady, Gravestein, Jonagold.  I love Macouns, too, though they’re very juicy — toss them with a little extra flour before tucking them into a pie.  Cortlands are drier and hold their shape perfectly when baked, but I find their cooked texture a bit mealy.  And nothing beats Macintosh for apple sauce — they’re sweet, requiring little if any added sugar, and they fall apart quickly when cooked.

Apple crumble

Yield:  One 13×9″ pan, serving 6-8

For apples:

4 lbs.  (10-12 medium) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ slices

About 1/4 c. packed, light brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of your apples)

Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbsp.)

2 tsp. cinnamon

For crumble:

1 1/2 c. rolled oats

1 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2 c. packed, light brown sugar

Pinch fine sea salt

1/2 c. cold butter (or use a non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening), cut into small pieces, plus a little extra for the pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9×13″ baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, toss sliced apples with sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, and salt.  Using your fingertips, rub butter into oat mixture until moist and crumbly.

Spoon apples and any accumulated juices into baking pan.  Top evenly with crumble.  Bake until lightly browned and bubbly, 45-55 minutes.