Cranberry-Apple Crisp

Some days it’s hard for a chanteuse not to quote  musical comedies. I was reminded recently of a line from The Sound of Music to the effect that when God closes a door he opens a window.

Here’s what happened: I became annoyed with myself a couple of weeks ago. I had been eyeing my neighbor Dennis’s patch of rhubarb with an eye to making rhubarb-apple crisp. (Dennis is always very nice about my incursions into his rhubarb.)

Unfortunately, I waited a little too long to harvest the rhubarb. When I lifted up the rhubarb leaves, I found that the stalks had finally given up the ghost and become soggy. The rhubarb door was closed for this year.

And then … I went to the grocery store and saw my window: the first cranberries of the season! So I decided to pair them with the apples instead of rhubarb. Personally, I think this is an even better combination than the rhubarb-apple one. The color is deep and appealing, thanks to the cranberries. And the apples tone down the cranberries ever so slightly; the crisp is tart but not too tart. The cranberries still dominate since three cups of them are denser than three cups of apples.

Of course, I imagine God has better things to do than entertain me with fruit. But I’m thanking him/her/it anyway, just in case. Come to think of it, this would make a lovely dessert for Thanksgiving Day……

Ruby had never encountered cranberries before.

The Crisp


3 cups (12 ounces) cranberries
3 cups sliced apples (core but don’t bother to peel unless you’re fussy—use a fairly sturdy apple; I used Baldwins)
3/4 cup white sugar plus 1/2 cup later
2 pinches salt
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats (regular, not steel cut or quick)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl toss together the cranberries, the apples, 3/4 cup sugar, the first pinch of salt, and the lemon juice. Spread them in the bottom of a 1-1/2- or 2-quart baking dish.

In a small bowl combine the flour, the remaining white sugar, the brown sugar, the oats, the cinnamon, and the second pinch of salt. Cut or rub in the butter until you have coarse crumbs. My preference is rubbing it in since I’m a tactile cook. Gently spread this combination over the fruit mixture. (It will be a little messy!)

Bake the crisp until it is brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with the topping of your choice—cream, whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt. Serves 6.

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13 Responses to “Cranberry-Apple Crisp”

  1. John says:

    Thanks for heralding the arrival of cranberry season! I too love the combo of apples and cranberries and my coworker told me a store has them on sale the other day! I am sure all sorts of wonderful recipes abound in Mass.

  2. Flaneur says:

    I was one of the lucky ones, an innocent bystander when God closed one door and opened a window, and enjoyed Tinky’s cranberry crisp when she served it on election eve. It was brilliant! And it was possibly even better than apple crisp alone. For those who wonder if cranberries would be too sour: no, the dessert, by virtue of the apples’ presence, is satisfyingly sweet. And the cranberries manage to maintain the consistency of the dessert, whereas the rhubarb would have tended to render a soggier presentation (I’m guessing, but rhubarb does disintegrate while cranberries soldier on). I asked another guest if she thought, were she to taste the dessert for the first time blindfolded and unaware that cranberries were a principal ingredient, she might be persuaded that it was cherry crisp. She thought for a second and replied, “Yes.” There’s a refreshing tartness to the cranberries that, coupled with the apples, is very much like cherries. This is a dessert that George Washington’s birthday would welcome – and a possible threat to cherry growers nationwide. While I doubt that cherry fans have any reason to fret, the cranberry crisp represents a major additional to the tart fruit repertoire. Enough: it is a splendid dessert. It’s the sort of astonishing dessert that seems, in retrospect, appropriate to serve before an important presidential election. In both cases the results are very good indeed. Clearly when God opens a window He really opens it wide.

  3. tinkyweisblat says:

    John, I hope the sale is wonderful and you buy a lot!

    And Flaneur, you honor me. I’m not sure the dish was QUITE that wonderful. But I certainly enjoyed it–and the company at your house that evening. As for the cherries, my grandmother used to make something she called “mock cherry pie” in cranberry season…….

  4. Jim says:

    Great recipe–yet again!

    And as one of her earthly ministers, I can assure you that god has no better thing to do than bless you with fruitful imagination. Importantly is that god, she being unlimited, has no need to prioritize one thing over another. This her scripture assures us that all things are possible with god, even and perhaps especially this crisp!

  5. tinkyweisblat says:

    I had never thought about the non-prioritization. I know like God even better than I did before!

  6. E. Sheppard says:

    Reposting! I am sure this tastes great. Thanks for another welcome recipe.

  7. Jean says:

    Love the photo of Ruby and the cranberries. Was thinking that you should hold a caption contest so we can imagine what she’s thinking. The finished product on the plate looked absolutely scrumptious. Wish I wasn’t so far away or I’d be knocking on your door right now for a sample.

  8. Martha says:

    Best line I’ve read all month: “Of course, I imagine God has better things to do than entertain me with fruit.”

  9. tinkyweisblat says:

    Thanks so much, E.

    Jean, I love the idea of a caption contest. Next time! Meanwhile, do make the crisp since you can’t come here. It’s a snap.

    And Martha, we aim to please!

  10. Grad says:

    I think this might be a great idea for Thanksgiving dessert, rather than a heavy pie. (Incidentally, I do not agree with the “good results” of the election, but without a doubt, I would have had no quarrel with the company or the food when it comes to this crisp!) Appetite and a healthy palate know no political ideology, “For where is the man that can live without dining,” after all. I think the cranberries will be in the market this week. I can’t wait to make it.

  11. tinkyweisblat says:

    Nicely put, Grad. We all have so much more in common than politics. Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Carolyn says:

    Cranberries are one of my favourite of the fall/winter fruits. In fact, I buy enough each fall so that I can eat them in various ways 2 or 3 times a week every week of the year.
    A lot of the recipes I use call for lemon zest but no lemon juice, and often I find I don’t have a lemon on hand. I solved this problem by this method. Every time I purchase lemons I take the zest, dry it and place it in a jar. My present jar is a 2 qt mason jar that is right now 3/4 full. I use fresh when there are lemons in the fridge, and about double the amt called for if I am using dried. I have yet to find dried zest in any of the stores in my small city.
    Here’s how I dry the lemon. When the oven I in use I just place it in a small heat proof glass dish and let it sit on top of the stove over the oven vent. the first time I tried this I used a tin-foil pie plate, and it scorched the zest.Have had no problems using the glass. I usually leave it out overnight after the oven is off just to make sure it is completely dry . Sure don’t want any mold growing in my large stash!!!!
    When I made the crisp I also threw in a 1/4 c of the dried zest in the second batch. My kids ( 50, 48, 46,&40) all gave it the thumbs up and said it was good both ways. It will definitely be one of the desserts on the table for Christmas dinner this year at my eldest son’s place.
    Thanks so much for this delicious treat. Carolyn

  13. tinkyweisblat says:

    What a great idea, Carolyn! I’ll have to try it—and to try the crisp with it. It’s true that when I buy lemons they often rot waiting to be used…….