Love cooking with kids? Call them to the kitchen and whip up this easy Buttery Apple Crumble recipe — perfect for fall.
“Hey, Will, do you want to help me make an apple crumble?” I asked my nine-year-old one afternoon as I pulled the pockmarked apples from their bag and lined them on the counter. Abandoning his iPad, he came right into the kitchen.
Despite their appearance, these make a good crumble. They are scarred from weather, but when peeled and baked, they are a sweet treat.
“Sure, what do I do,” he asked, approaching the kitchen island. Together we laid out a paper towel and I handed him a peeler. “First, we have to peel these,” I said, gesturing to the apples.
“All of them? That’s a lot,” he said, but I affirmed explaining that when the apples cooked they would seem like much less.
I watched as he whacked the apple with my favorite red peeler, much like I had when I was little. I could practically feel the thwack-thwack-thwack of my family’s old metal peeler against the smooth exterior of an apple, and wondered how long it took me to learn to peel smoothly.
“Will, be gentle,” I said, watching him wrestle with the peeler and the apple.
“This is harder than Paige makes it look,” Will said, referring to my six-year-old daughter, who frequently helps me in the kitchen. Will used to help all the time too, but when he entered elementary school that stopped. He was suddenly too busy with homework and soccer and games of pretend.
Guiding his hand, I showed him how with gentle strokes the peel would come off easily. After a few more thwacks, I showed him again and then he eased up. A few apples later, it was going a lot smoother. I smiled to myself, knowing that if he could peel apples, this skill would allow him to peel potatoes, carrots and more too. These are the kinds of things you can only learn by doing — and is a skill he will use in the kitchen forever.
Once the apples were peeled and cut into cubes, I moved them to a bowl and measured out the sugar and cinnamon. Then, I handed him a mixing spoon to combine it all. At first, he was too gingerly, stirring with abundant caution. But when I showed him how to gently toss the apples to coat them, he masterfully mixed them. Then he spread them into the pan.
Soon Paige joined us at the counter and helped make the crumble topping. Together, they spooned it on top of the apples. Then into the oven it went to bake and bubble into our dessert to be enjoyed with ice cream later.
Cooking with kids is something I’ve done since mine were old enough to stand — much like my aunt did with me when I was a little girl. Over the years, they have taught me so much in that warm space — about patience, helpfulness and the value of imperfections. Sure, the crumble topping might not be spread in a perfect layer, but the end result is what matters: two happy kids, who get to dig into a dessert they helped to make. And the teaching moments — the ones that come as we measure ingredients and talk about the art of cooking — are priceless.
It’s more than just nourishing my kids with good, homemade food. It’s about empowering them to create, to trust themselves in the kitchen and in life and to give them little nuggets of knowledge that they will hold onto as they grow up.
And that? It’s more priceless than anything.
Buttery Apple Crumble
3 cups peeled, cored and cubed apples
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup uncooked oats (not instant)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Spread into a glass baking dish (a round pie plate or an 8×8-inch dish will work. Spread into an even layer.
In a small mixing bowl, add the oats, flour and sugar. Add the butter and use either two knives or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the mixture until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle over the apples.
Slide the baking dish into the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes, until golden on top and bubbling at the sides. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.