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An apple lover’s apple crumble that highlights its fresh fruit flavor (and doesn’t bury it in sugar)

By America’s Test Kitchen, Tribune Content Agency on

Some apple crumbles bury the fruit in sugar and streusel so that by the time you add a scoop of ice cream, you’ve lost the fruit’s tangy freshness. It’s the equivalent of heating really good olive oil so that it loses its grassy bite or cooking thick, well-marbled steak until the center goes gray.

An apple crumble should let the fruit’s bright, tart character shine. For a version that preserves the throw-together ease and buttery, delicately crunchy topping, and packs in as much fruit as possible, we worked from the bottom up.

We chose Golden Delicious apples for their year-round and near-universal availability, balanced sweet-tart flavor, and structural integrity when baked. And we used plenty of them — 4 pounds, to be exact — and tossed the cut-up pieces with some lemon juice to enhance their bright flavor. Adding just 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the filling kept the apples from tasting too sweet, and parbaking the filling in a covered pan before applying the topping allowed them to collapse into a thick, substantial layer.

As for the streusel, we added nuts to loosen its consistency so it didn’t bake up dense, and a couple of teaspoons of water hydrated the flour so that the mixture clumped nicely. Applying the topping midway through baking minimized its exposure to the juicy fruit, preventing it from becoming soggy.

From the sweet-tart, bright-tasting filling to the nutty, buttery, not-too-sweet streusel, this crumble gives apples their due.

Apple Crumble

 

Serves 6 to 8

4 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

2 tablespoons packed plus 1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) dark brown sugar, divided

2 tablespoons lemon juice

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