A healthy, low-fat and easy dessert!
While home for the holidays my freshman year of college, I announced to my dad, “I want to go to Spring Training this year!” Since my conversion to become a die-hard baseball fan—one that traveled across the country just to visit MLB stadiums—a decade prior, my Spring Break from school never cooperated to fall conveniently in March so we could fly to Phoenix for preseason games. Until then.
Three months later, we landed in the desert, drove a rental car to Aunt B’s house, and sorted out our schedule for the next four days. With three pairs of tickets, we had a jam-packed vacation ahead of us but still set aside plenty of time for fun and exercise with Aunt B.
Although unemployed for a year or two since battling her first round of cancer, she still scraped together enough money for specialty groceries to cook us gourmet homemade meals. She served beef-stuffed bell peppers after we unpacked because she remembered they were my favorite vegetable. She even bought extra-lean ground beef for the recipe in honor of my low-fat approach to food.
The next morning, Aunt B rose with the sun, quietly pulling out mixing bowls and preheating the oven to give us something healthy to eat at the game instead of hot dogs, nachos, and cracker jacks. She presented us with thick packets of tin foil and big bottles of water to survive the brutal Arizona heat, and when we unwrapped our mystery lunch during the third inning, we devoured the best crispy buttermilk “oven-fried” chicken we’d ever eaten. (I even stole half of Dad’s second piece!)
The final night, after a hike up Pinnacle Peak with her and another game of baseball, we sat down to dinner at her self-made tile mosaic table. As we wiped our mouths with white napkins, she cut us humongous pieces of the apple crumble she baked while we cheered on our Oakland A’s. The soft fruit speckled with cinnamon slid down our throats faster than the “fried” chicken, and we scraped every last oat topping morsel off our plates to enjoy.
So in remembrance of Aunt B, I baked my own version of apple crumble, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, I added in cranberries for a festive holiday touch. I’m sure she would’ve approved—she was always advocating for us to spice up our lives and add our own flair of personal touches!
This homey Cranberry Apple Crumble comes together in a matter of minutes. Mix up the filling, then the topping; layer, bake, and wait. That’s it! Nothing to it.
For the apples, I opted for one of my favorites: Fujis. Any red apple will work, and you could even mix and match a few varieties! I highly advise against green Granny Smiths; they lack the sweetness to balance the tart cranberries. You’ll need about 3 medium apples to dice.
I love a good oaty topping, and this one is topped with a really thick layer! With a whopping ¾ cup of oats, you’ll feel rather virtuous eating this crumble for dessert. Because everyone knows oats are heart-healthy. Right?
To round out the oat flavor, I added whole wheat flour. If you don’t have any on hand, swap it out for all-purpose. Or if adhering to a gluten-free diet, pick your favorite gluten-free flour or flour mix. (Currently, millet flour is my preferred go-to!)
Although I normally cut in chilled butter for the topping, my biceps complained and begged for the day off. I obliged and mixed in melted butter instead. (Only 2 tablespoons to keep the crumble on the skinny side!) It worked like a charm and crumbled up nicely.
This recipe makes a lot of crumble topping, and it will completely cover the filling. It should look like a carpet of buttery oaty cinnamon sugar. Bake your beauty of a crumble at 350°F for 35-40 minutes for firmer apples, or closer to 60 minutes for softer. I still like some texture and pulled mine out after the shorter time period. If baking longer, you may need to cover the pan with foil after the first 40 minutes if the crumble topping browns too quickly.
If you curb your temptations long enough for the dessert to cool and the juices to thicken, you’ll be rewarded with an entire pan of sweet-and-tart-cinnamony-oaty-fruity-ohsocomforting Cranberry Apple Crumble. With a bit of whipped cream or small scoop of ice cream, it’ll be everyone’s favorite meal of the day. And if you just so happen to end up with leftovers, feel free to sneak them for breakfast! I won’t judge. I did the same thing.
And Aunt B would have done that too.