My friend Sea at Book of Yum invited me to be a part of her Thanksgiving Recipe Carnival, and since she is so darn sweet, I simply couldn’t say no. The idea behind this particular event is a bit unique … she wants to show people that it doesn’t need to be difficult to feed gluten-free vegetarians and vegans for Thanksgiving.
For many of us, cooking “free-from” has become second-nature. But getting there takes time. Many are still in the beginning phases or are simply trying to cater to loved ones. Plus, not everyone has access to specialty dairy-free products and fifteen different flours.
Fortunately, some of the best foods on the planet (in my humble opinion) can be made without dairy, eggs, or gluten (though if you prefer, you can use a wheat-based flour in this recipe – no problem!) … and this includes one of my all-time favorite desserts, apple crisp.
Crisps are amazingly versatile for various diets, particularly since the topping is permitted to be crumbly. Ingredients that bind or help with rising are of little to no concern and there’s no need to fuss with trying to get the perfect flaky crust. You can even adjust it as you go, adding more sugar if you want it sweeter, more flour for drier, more liquid for more moisture (remember, humid or dry climates can cause variations in recipes!). Very forgiving.
In terms of making a crisp gluten-free, there are actually many options. For extra simplicity, you can go paleo and just use nuts for all of the flour. Truth be told, I wasn’t a big fan of that option. I like a little flour in my crisp. However, I did find that coarsely grinding nuts added nice texture to the crisp and was actually a great replacement for oats and some of the added fats (people who aren’t usually gluten-free, probably don’t want to invest in seeking out gluten-free oats!). From there, the flour is very flexible. People who aren’t gluten-free normally, might want to just pick up gluten-free flour blend at the store. I recommend one that uses a brown rice, rice, or sorghum flour base for the most appeal. I “made my own” flour blend with just two gluten-free flours. See my notes in the recipe below to see what I used and for various options.
Keep in mind … apple crisp is not just about the topping. Choosing the right apple for the filling is just as important. I often read reviews of crisp recipes on recipe sites where people complain that the recipe didn’t work because the filling turned out mushy. This is NOT the fault of the recipe. Choose your fruit wisely people! Not all varieties are the same. Some are firmer than others, and hold their shape when baked, others turn to mush. For crisp, my favorite apples to use are Golden Delicious. They are just slightly tart (I find that Granny Smith’s work great in baking, but require more sugar), and hold their shape nicely. A few others that I’ve used recently with success were Fuji, Cortland, and Braeburn apples.