This classic American dessert is a favorite of mine, but it must be well spiced and have a rich, crunchy topping, as it does here. I have found that almost any variety of apple will do (except Red Delicious they’re too mealy); if the apple is crisp and fresh and delicious as an eating apple, then it will be good for baking.

SERVES 6

8 medium apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

Вј cup water

2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

ВЅ teaspoon cinnamon

TOPPING

ВЅ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or Вј cup unbleached white flour and Вј cup whole wheat flour)

ВЅ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Вј teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350В°F. Arrange the apple slices in an 8 Г— 8-inch baking pan or other shallow ovenproof dish of comparable size. Pour the water over them, then sprinkle on the brown sugar and cinnamon and toss gently.
  2. To make the topping: Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small mixing bowl, and mix well.
  3. Cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle evenly over the apples.
  4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the topping is lightly browned. The topping will get crisp as it cools. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. It is perfectly delicious served plain, and also exceptionally good topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.