Foraged Recipes

Maple syrup-candied crabapples with oat-pecan crumble cakes

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If you don’t think crabapples can be gourmet food, these maple syrup-candied crabapples might just change your mind. Add them on top of our oat-pecan crumble cake (which is gluten-free), and you’ll be swooning for this seasonal delicacy! 


The gourmet crabapple

This is one of the best dessert recipes we’ve ever created, so we’re happy it was made with the lowly crabapple. We say “lowly” because most people hold crabapples in such low culinary regard that the fruits are rarely used in the kitchen, instead left to rot in piles under their trees. 

Can candied crabapple crumble cakes cause crabapple course correction? If nothing else, they'll help create fun sentences.

Can candied crabapple crumble cakes cause crabapple course correction? If nothing else, they’ll help create fun sentences.

We hope more people will start appreciating crabapples as food because they have incredible culinary potential. The intense sour and bitter flavors of the raw fruit are mellowed by cooking, becoming downright magical. Cooked crabapples taste like a flavorful apples crossed with cranberry crossed with almond.

The almond flavor comes from the seeds — and we recommend using the whole crabapple including the seeds, once you’ve removed the stems and calyxes (the brown bottom piece). 

Crabapples are great in savory dishes like our one-pot turkey with chestnuts and crabapples. But they may be even better in desserts since their intense flavor mixes beautifully with added sweeteners like brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc. 

Pectin: Crabapple’s other secret culinary weapon

Crabapples also have another huge benefit in the kitchen: they’re loaded with pectin. In case you’ve never heard of it before, pectin is the starch used to thicken jellies, jams, etc.

Usually, you have to buy commercial pectin for fruit recipes that need to set/thicken. However, crabapples bring their own pectin to the party, so you don’t have to add any for recipes you want to form into thick sauces, jellies, and candies. 

Maple syrup candied crabapples thickened by the naturally occurring pectin in the fruit. These are a wonderful recipe on their own, but combined with our crumble cake, they're exquisite.

Maple syrup candied crabapples thickened by the naturally occurring pectin in the fruit. These are a wonderful recipe on their own, but combined with our crumble cake, they’re exquisite.

If you have access to crabapples or a crabapple tree, we hope the above information has aroused both your interest and your appetite. Now it’s time for us to give you another gift: our recipe to make oat-pecan crumble cakes with maple syrup-candied crabapples.

Recipe tips and notes:

Here are tips and process photos to help you get this recipe just right: 

1. Crabapple types

There’s a lot of variability between types and species of crabapples. 

We use large red-skinned crabapples that are crisp and juicy when raw, albeit still intensely flavored. Ideally, you have access to a similar type of crabapple. 

Crabapples on a tree in Asheville, NC.

The crabapples we used to make this recipe.

If you’re using small or mealy crabapples, your results might be different from ours and you’ll also want to modify your cooking times for the maple syrup-candied crabapples. For instance, small crabapples wouldn’t need to cook nearly as long. Nor would mealy crabapples since they don’t contain much juice. 

2. Using ring molds (or alternatives)

Stainless steel ring molds help you bake and plate beautiful recipes. If you don't have ring molds, you can use ceramic ramekins.

Stainless steel ring molds and tamper/pushers help you bake and plate beautiful recipes. If you don’t have ring molds, you can use ceramic ramekins.

To get the perfect nest-like forms on our oat-pecan crumble cakes, we used 3″ diameter x 3″ deep stainless steel ring molds (aka forming rings) placed on a cookie sheet. (We like Küchenprofi’s ring molds, which also come with tamper/pushers.) Ring molds are very versatile tools in the kitchen that you can use not only for baking, but for cutting dough or making photo-worthy platings. 

Once the crumble cakes cool down, they slide right out of the ring molds.

If you don’t have ring molds, you could just use buttered oven-safe ceramic ramekins. The crumble cakes should remove easily from the dishes once they’ve cooled a bit, but if they don’t, just use the ramekins as your serving dishes. 

Another alternative: use muffin tins. Just try to get as close as you can to the 3″ diameter range. 

3. Parchment paper base wraps (or aluminum foil)

If you’re baking with ring molds, you’ll need to wrap the bases of your molds so liquified butter doesn’t exit the base and make a mess on your cookie sheet.

The easy option here is aluminum foil. However, we wrap our ring molds with parchment because it’s more ecologically sensible – we can compost the paper afterwards. 

Left to right: Put small pieces of parchment paper under each mold and start folding and wrapping the paper around the base. Then fill each mold with crumble cake dough and transfer it to a cookie sheet.

Left to right: Put small pieces of parchment paper under each mold and start folding and wrapping the paper around the base. Then fill each mold with crumble cake dough and transfer it to a cookie sheet.

4. Making oat-pecan crumble cakes

You’ll start by making your oat-pecan crumble cakes since they’ll take about 40 minutes to bake. Plus, you want them to cool down for about 20 minutes or so before you plate them and add the candied crabapples. 

To make three 3″ diameter by ~2″ thick (they rise a bit once baked) crumble cakes, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic oat flour; measured weight 104 grams – we used Arrowhead Mills organic oat flour (alt: put whole oats in food processor or blender until you achieve a flour-like consistency) 
  • 1 cup pecan flour; measured weight 76 grams 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted organic grass-fed butter, room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup (72 grams) organic dark brown sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt (we use fine pink Himalayan)

Put these ingredients in a food processor or Ninja and blend until all ingredients are combined and you have a thick dough-like consistency. 

Evenly distribute dough between three ring molds (or alternative baking dishes), then press down firmly and evenly with a spatula or the pusher/releaser that comes with some ring mold sets. You want the raw dough cakes to be about 1″ thick, but also leave at least 1” room from the top of the raw dough to the top of your mold/baking dish since the crumble cake will rise as it bakes. 

You’ll bake your crumble cakes for about 40 minutes in a pre-heated 350°F (176°C) oven. When done, the sides of the cakes should be risen with a sunken center. The edges should also be lightly browned. 

It's kind of hard to see in pictures, but the centers of these crumble cakes are sunk about 1/4" below the sides, making perfect nests for the candied crabapples.

It’s difficult to see in pictures, but the centers of these crumble cakes are sunk about 1/4″ below the sides, making perfect nests for the candied crabapples. Here, we’re letting them cool down inside their ring molds out of the oven.

Remove from oven and let cakes cool for at least 20 minutes before removing and plating.

On the right, you can see the bottom of a baked crumble cake in the ring mold plus the parchment paper wrap used while baking.

On the right, you can see the bottom of a baked crumble cake in the ring mold plus the parchment paper wrap used while baking.

5. Making maple syrup-candied crabapples

While your crumble cakes are baking, start making your candied crabapples.

First, use a small knife/paring knife to remove the crabapples’ stems and calyxes. Cut in a circular motion around the stem to remove them. The calyxes can simply be lopped off with a straight cut. 

Crabapple prep.

Crabapple prep.

You’ll need a small saucepan plus the following ingredients to make three generous servings of maple syrup-candied crabapples:

  • 10 ounces large crabapples (about 2 cups measured whole)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg (or microplane fresh)
  • Pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. Ideally, you’ll have a pan size allowing the crabapples to fit snuggly together on one level.

You’ll start with the lid on for the first 10-15 minutes. During this time window, you’re aiming to cook the crabapples through and release their liquid, but not evaporate the water. Stir regularly and/or give the pan a shake to roll the crabapples around to different sides.

After 15 minutes, remove the lid on the crabapples and cook for another ~15 minutes. Here, you’re trying to get a majority of the water out, candying the crabapples and forming a thick, flavorful sauce that will jell when cooled.

This is what the maple syrup candied crabapples look like in the saucepan when they're done.

This is what the maple syrup candied crabapples look like in the saucepan when they’re done.

Since your pan size AND crabapple size will affect cook times, remove the pan from heat and consider your candied crabapples done if yours cook down faster than ours. Once removed from heat, cover and set aside until you’re ready to add them atop the crumble cakes. 

If they cool and jell to the point that you can’t remove them before plating, return them to a low heat and even add a bit of water back in if necessary.     

6. Plate and serve

Oat-pecan crumble cakes with maple syrup-candied crabapples are best served slightly warm. Here’s how we plated ours:

We dusted one half of the plate with fermented rose petal dust from a previous recipe. 

Dusting the plate.

Dusting the plate with fermented rose petal powder.

Then we placed the crumble cakes. 

Now it’s time to add the candied crabapples (they have to be warm or they’re too sticky to work with!). First one crabapple goes in the middle, then you fill in around the sides before adding a final crabapple on top. 

Then use a spoon to drizzle the whole thing with a bit of the thick, delicious crabapple maple syrup from the bottom of the saucepan. Serve!

Eating candied crabapple crumble cake.

So good!

At each bite, try to get a bit of the cake with a bit of the crabapple/sauce because they pair so wonderfully together. After you’re done, you’ll  never look at a crabapple the same way again! 

Recipe: Maple syrup-candied crabapple crumble cakes

Recipe: Oat-pecan crumble cakes with maple syrup-candied crabapples

Recipe: Maple syrup-candied crabapples with oat-pecan crumble cakes.
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Maple syrup-candied crabapple crumble cakes

Course: celebrations, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: candied crabapples, crabapple dessert, crabapple recipes, gluten-free crumble cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 3
Author: Aaron von Frank

Maple syrup-candied crabapples with oat-pecan crumble cakes will make you fall in love with crabapples as a seasonal gourmet food!

Ingredients

For oat-pecan crumble cakes

  • 1 cup organic oat flour; measured weight 104 grams (We used Arrowhead Mills organic oat flour | ALT: put whole oats in food processor or blender until you achieve a flour-like consistency) 
  • 1 cup pecan flour; measured weight 76 grams
  • 6 tbsp unsalted organic grass-fed butter, room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar or turbinado sugar, packed (72 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt (we use fine pink Himalayan)

For maple-candied crabapples

  • 10 ounces large crabapples - about 2 cups measured whole
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg (or microplane fresh)
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

For oat-pecan crumble cakes

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F (176°C).

  2. Add all ingredients to blender or food processor. Mix until fully incorporated and a thick cookie dough-like batter is created.

  3. Prepare 3" form molds using parchment paper or aluminum foil. (See article notes and pictures.) Alternates: ceramic baking ramekins or muffin tins. Divide dough into thirds and place in each form mold. Press dough down hard to create a ~1" thick flat dough layer. Then bake for about 40 minutes or until crumble cakes have cooked through, lightly browned on sides, and formed a nest-like shape with a sunken center.

  4. *As crumble cakes are cooking, start making your candied crabapples!

  5. Remove crumble cakes from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before trying to remove them from their forms or baking dishes.

Maple syrup-candied crabapples

  1. Use a small knife/paring knife to remove the crabapples’ stems and calyxes.

  2. Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat with LID on for first 10-15 minutes. Ideally, your pan size will allow the crabapples to fit snuggly together on one level. Stir with spoon or shake pan every few minutes to turn crabapples over heat and evenly cook.

  3. After no more than 15 minutes, remove lid to allow water to escape and sauce to thicken as you cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. There may be some cook time variabiity depending on your pan size and size of your crabapples.

  4. When done, remove from heat and cover to keep warm until you're ready to spoon crabbapples & sauce on top of your crumble cakes. This recipe is best with both your crumble cakes and candied crabapples served warm - both reheat well in the microwave if needed! If your candied crabapples cool and thicken so much that they're hard to work with, reheating will help and you can also add 1-2 tbsp of water while reheating if needed.

KIGI,

Tyrantfarms

Other crabapple recipes you’ll love: 

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