apple crisp – cast iron skillet recipe

It’s early Saturday morning. The sun comes up late on the prairies leaving me never sure of the time. I’ve been in Calgary two weeks; long enough to establish a routine, daily rituals making me feel like I belong.

Rocking Coen, after his dawn feeding, so Meg can steal a few hours of sleep is magic. We sit quietly getting to know one another. He loves to be on my shoulder – so did his mother – and I love the feel of his downy head against my cheek. After he falls asleep, I hold him in my arms and watch him breathe. The rise and fall of his tiny chest in perfect cadence with my rocking chair. I’m mesmerized.

Meg wakes in time to feed him. We sit in cozy chairs in her kitchen, me sipping coffee, her nursing the baby, and we talk. For hours, we reminisce about her childhood and make guesses about Coen’s future. Suddenly, it’s lunchtime.

She feeds her baby and I feed mine. It’s comforting knowing she’s eating well. After lunch, they lay down for a nap. When the house is quiet, I putter, read or write. Someone wakes and it’s time for our walk. And so it goes… Gentle lullaby days filled with helping my daughter after the birth of her son.

In seven days, I’ll board a plane that will carry me thousands of miles from away from these precious moments. Back home.

As intoxicating as it’s been falling in love with my beautiful grandson and being of service to my daughter, I know I don’t belong here. Not in a permanent way. Part of my heart will always ache for Meggie and her little family but my life is back home with the rest of my family and my friends. I thought about Ralph and me heading west but I’m a Maritimer through to the bones. I love the sea and the river. My family has lived in Saint John for four generations.

I need to live where I’m held steady by roots. I tried leaving Saint John when I was young. It didn’t work. I longed for home, all the time that I was away. My daughters are not like me. I’m not sure if they’re more courageous or if technology has made the world a smaller place. The difference doesn’t matter. I accept that I’m happy where I am and they’re happy where they are. It would be a mistake to uproot my life to follow my children. Too much pressure on both sides.

For now, I have seven more glorious days with little Coen. After that, he and I will figure it out…

Of all things apple, crisp is my favourite. Unlike a typical apple crisp which has the crisp on top, my recipe is crispy both top and bottom. I was in a hurry getting it ready so I prepared the whole thing in a cast iron skillet. I thought it would save clean-up time. After I mixed up the crumb topping, I thought hmmm…’why not use part of the topping as a crust for the bottom?’ Baking it in cast iron should produce an almost candy like bottom. It did! The bottom crust is super crunchy, kinda candy-like, the apples are lovely and soft with a bit of chew –  due to me leaving the peelings on – and the top is buttery and crisp. Theo described it as, “the most delicious crunchy apple yumminess” he’d ever eaten.

I love my son-in-law!

APPLE CRISP – easy mix-in-a-skillet recipe
Preheat oven 375*F

1 cups old fashioned rolled oats
¾ all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, melted
1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled – cored and sliced thin
2 MacIntosh apples, unpeeled – cored and sliced thin
2 tablespoons brown sugar


  • Place an oven rack in the bottom of your oven..
  • Place an 8” cast iron skillet over medium heat
  • Add butter and melt – remove from heat.
  • Sprinkle melted butter with brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, flour and oats.
  • Gently mix together until well combined. – it’s a tight fit!
  • Reserve 1 cup of the crumbs and set aside.
  • Firmly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan.
  • Spread half of the apple slices evenly over the crust.
  • Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over the apples.
  • Layer on the remaining apples.
  • Crumble the reserved oat mixture over the apples.
  • Bake for 30 – 40 minutes – until topping is golden brown.
  • Cool then serve with sweetened whipped cream.

apple crisp - cast iron skillet recipe

THE LOVE: I never peel my apples for apple crisp. The peels add flavour and texture but if you prefer a softer texture, peel away.

print recipe

Thanks for reading.

  • Nathalie

    Will make this tonight! And hold all of you in my thoughts. Xo

    • Ralph arrives today. One more week of grandparent bliss…xoxo

  • Debbie

    You have made my morning… again! This apple crisp will surely be on the menu tonight. I love anything I can make in my cast iron skillet. It is the one pan I cannot live without. Your photography and word pictures draw me into a place that is beautiful and peaceful. I feel privileged to see and hear about these sacred things. Thank you for sharing these moments with us. Your grandson is a perfect gift from God, for sure!

    • Good morning Debbie, Until that Apple Crisp came out of the oven I wasn’t completely sure of the outcome. My son-in-law’s reaction was perfect! Thanks so much for your kind words. They’re so appreciated!

  • I have been making apple crisp for ages, but I never thought of adding a bottom crumble crust! I will definitely have to try this next time. Thanks for the idea!

    • Hi Michelle, It was a happy after thought. the crisp is my favourite part so how could it not work!