There's a good reason apples and pears ripen together in the fall. Both are sturdy fruits that suit the season of crisps and cobblers. Crisps, cobblers and crumbles belong in a category called American fruit desserts. This designation evolved from colonial days where the housewife created desserts from what was available at the time- she "cobbled" fruits and toppings as seasonal treats.
Choose apples that are good for baking such as honeycrisp (the new national favorite developed at the University of MN)), gala, harelson or braeburn. Granny Smith is a tart apple that holds its shape well when baked, but is very juicy so it is better in crisps than in cakes.
My favorite pear is the Anjou which arrives late in October or early November. Bartletts are the first available but I find their texture too soft. Allow pears to ripen at room temperature for a few days. I place them in a paper bag and check each day for ripeness. Press gently on the stem end. It should yield a little. Because pears ripen from the inside out, soft sides often indicate mushy insides. Bosc pears are also good for cooking.
Combine apples and pears in a cinnamony crisp or try different varieties. It's time for fall baking!
Makes 8 servings
6 cups peeled sliced apples (6 to 8 medium)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup caramel sauce
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut-up
Vanilla ice cream, if desired
Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in middle.
Combine apples, dark brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, and lemon juice in large bowl. Stir until fruit is well coated.
Spoon apple mixture into 2-quart casserole or 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Heat caramel sauce slightly and drizzle it over the fruit.
Combine oats, flour, and light brown sugar in medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Crumble over the fruit.
Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until bubbling all over and apples are fork-tender. Cool slightly and serve with ice cream.