Recipe Spotlight

What Your Apple Crumble Needs Is More Apples

Double the apples in your apple crumble by parbaking them first.

Published Sept. 16, 2021.

Now that fall is almost upon us, the best fruit in the grocery store will start to transition from berries to apples. Though I love summer, apple season is one of my favorite times on the produce calendar. They’re both the perfect snack and my favorite fruit to bake with.

In my opinion, the best apple dessert is apple crumble. (Sorry, pie.)  It’s got it all: the warm apples, crunchy streusel topping, and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. But I always felt like it never had quite enough apples. That is, until I tried Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for apple crumble.

Also an apple lover, former Cook’s Illustrated test cook Andrew wanted to pack as many apples into the dessert as possible. In his recipe development, he notes that most apple crumble recipes use 2 to 3 pounds of apples for an 8-inch square baking dish. This is to leave room at the top for the precious streusel topping.

The problem?

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The apples shrink as they bake, so you end up with plenty of room in your baking dish—precious space that could have been used for more filling. Not to mention, the moisture expelled from the apples during baking can turn your topping mushy. But, Andrew figured out the best way to solve this.

The solution was parbaking. Since the apples shrink, Andrew decided to fill the entire pan with four pounds of apple chunks, all the way to the top, without any streusel. By parbaking the apples under a foil cover for 35 minutes at 400 degrees, the apples shrink enough into the pan to give you room for the topping, which now won’t sog out, all while maximizing the amount of apples you include.

After adding the streusel and finishing it off in the oven, you’re left with the ultimate dessert that has more apples than you ever thought possible.

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