Homestead Farm Market, Sansone's, Solebury Orchards in Pennsylvania, or even Terhune's, a slightly longer drive, will get you crispy apples at the peak of flavor ripeness, right off the tree.
But wherever you are, local fruit is best. Here's what I'm doing tonight with the Empire apples I bought at Solebury Orchards. (The Honeycrisp apples are for eating out of hand.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Take 8 medium apples, tart and crisp, your favorite variety for cooking.
Peel and core the apples. Cut them into one-inch chunks and spread them in an unbuttered two-quart baking dish.
Mix the dry ingredients of the topping together. You can do this in a food processor, and then process the butter too, but if you do you must be careful not to overprocess the butter.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Cut a quarter-pound stick of butter into small pieces and mix it in. This is the only step in the recipe that requires nice judgement. If you make biscuits or pie crust you know the drill: cut the butter into the flour mixture using two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. The idea is to coat the little lumps of fat with flour but not to get it all pasty. If you're using a food processor, a couple of pulses or so should do the job.
Spread the flour mixture over the apples. Knock the baking dish on the counter to settle the crumbs. Bake until the apples are tender, 50 to 55 minutes. (Macintosh apples cook more quickly.)
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
© 2015 Kate Gallison