Food & DrinkLiving

A bow to Craig Claiborne

Dodi Newman

I’ll begin this column with a bow to the late Craig Claiborne who was, among other things, the food editor of the New York Times for many years. He revolutionized Americans’ cooking and eating habits, years before Julia Child appeared on television. Ms. Child brought French cooking to American kitchensÑno small featÑbut only after Mr. Claiborne lifted them out of the doldrums of the fifties.

One of my favourite Claiborne recipes is the apple crisp recipe that he published in the New York Times Magazine in the early sixties. Oddly, I have not found it anywhere since, not even in his New York Times Cookbook. Now, when apples are fresh off the trees, is a good time to revisit it.

It is a simple recipe Ñ no oat flakes, no nuts, no goût-du-jour embellishments. What makes this apple crisp different is that, instead of lemon juice, it uses orange juice as a flavour accent. It’s a small change, but it makes a big difference.

The only two ingredient modifications necessary to make Mr. Claiborne’s recipe gluten-free are to use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose white, and add a bit of xanthan gum. Reverse these two changes and you’ll have the original back. Enjoy!

Gluten-free Apple Crisp

Extra butter for greasing the casserole
250 ml (1 cup) gluten-free flour
250 ml (1 cup) sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Small pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
120 ml (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
5-6 medium to large Lobo or other tart apples
120 ml (1/2 cup) fresh orange juice


Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Coat an 8x11x2-inch baking dish with butter.

Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and xanthan gum in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade, and whirl it for a few turns. Add the butter pieces, and process on “high” to the count of 10. Transfer to a bowl, and rub it together to make streusel. Reserve.

Peel, core, and slice the apples fairly thinly, and distribute the slices evenly in the buttered casserole Ñ it should be 3/4 full. Pour the orange juice over the apple slices, then distribute the streusel evenly over everything.

Bake the apple crisp for 40 to 50 minutes or until the juices bubble up through the streusel and turn dark brown on the walls of the baking dish.

Serve either warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crisp with an orange twist
Photo: D. Newman