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in the kitchen with: kylie antolini’s honey thyme apple crisp

by Kristina Gill

Kylie Antolini, the blogger behind The Baking Bird, put together a recipe for a honey thyme apple crisp this week to celebrate the arrival of autumn and to give an alternative to the typical apple pie recipe you’d expect to see this time of year.  Kylie also chose the crisp because it’s quicker than apple pie.  Crisps can be done with different types of fruit, including additions of raisins, nuts, and other dried fried.  I like to change up the spices in the crisp part depending on the fruit I’m using.  The idea of trying some savory combinations with aged cheese in the  crisp part has also crossed my mind. Let us know how you like to make your crisps, and your favorite seasonal combinations! –Kristina

About Kylie: Born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, Kylie recently moved to Portland, Oregon within the last year where she finds regular inspiration from the cutting-edge culinary scene. A dental hygienist by day, self-taught baker and food photographer by night, she is fueled by curating new recipes to bake in the kitchen. Starting her blog The Baking Bird back in 2007, she experimented with vegan baked goods, loving the challenge of converting recipes sans butter, eggs, and milk, but certainly isn’t afraid of those ingredients nowadays.  When not cleaning teeth or plugging in her KitchenAid mixer, she loves to run, discover new restaurants and bakeries in town, study Ayurveda, learn Italian, and hang out with her boyfriend and two cats being a crazy cat lady. She dreams of someday opening a bakery that gives out toothbrushes alongside cookies and cupcakes.




Honey Thyme Autumn Apple Crisp

Serves 9-10

Crumb topping:

  • small amount of butter to grease the baking dish
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (11 tablespoons), cut into squares


  • 5 Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cored
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
  • ½ cup honey
  • 8 thyme branches
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into squares
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugars, spices, and salt. Work the 11 tablespoons of butter, previously cut into squares, into the flour mixture with your fingers just until it begins to cling together, just past the crumbly stage. Set aside and refrigerate if the climate is moderately warm.
  3. Slice apples into ½-inch thick pieces.
  4. Preheat a large sauté skillet pan over medium-high heat, bringing ¼ cup of the honey to a boil. Let simmer about 2 minutes, until honey is caramelized. Add 4 thyme branches.
  5. Sauté the apples in two batches. Arrange half the apples in the skillet, and add 1 tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar, as well as 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook apples, turning until well caramelized on all sides but not cooked through, about 10 minutes. Scrape the apples and honey into a large bowl.
  6. Repeat the cooking process with remaining apples, honey, thyme, apple cider vinegar, and butter. Scrape into a bowl with the other apples.
  7. Discard thyme sticks (careful, the apples are piping hot!) and toss the apples with the cornstarch. Add the brown sugar and remaining spices into the bowl and toss well until the apples are thoroughly coated.
  8. Heap the apple mixture into your baking dish, followed by the oat crumb mixture. Cover the crisp first with parchment, then foil (this eliminates the chance of any ‘tin can’ flavor in the crisp). Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then carefully remove foil and paper starting from the opposite side of the pan to avoid steam burn, and return to oven, baking for an additional 30-40 minutes, until top is golden brown and apples are tender when poked with a fork. Thickened juices will bubble from the fruit.
  9. Let cool 20-30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream and/or your favorite vanilla bean ice cream.


(Images by Kylie Antolini)

Why Kylie loves this recipe:

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, and I usually go crazy baking pumpkin goods. Instead, I wanted to branch out and experiment with more apple desserts. Since I am not a huge fan of that laborious pie baking business, I decided to try a crisp. Since I always like to spiffy up basic traditional recipes with complimenting flavor combinations, I consulted my handy dandy Flavor Bible  and settled on a honey and thyme combo. It’s not overly sweet, just perfectly balanced, with a hint of thyme shining through.


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  • Honey-thyme sounds like a fabulous combination – can’t wait to give it a try.

    I love the Rosemary Apricot Bars from ‘Baked Explorations’. I’m sure that flavor profile would translate nicely into a crisp.

  • YUM! Looks delicious! I will be testing this one out soon in my kitchen.
    I also LOVE the vintage tablecloth, so pretty.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi S, the ingredients should usually go in the order in which you will use them in the recipe. Because Kylie uses spices in separate moments, they are listed twice in the ingredient list. Sorry for any confusion this may cause.

  • Leigh- Yes! You are so right. Those bars from Baked are so amazing. I love any rosemary/thyme/sage herb incorporated into traditional baking recipes. I actually made them here awhile back!- http://thebakingbird.com/rosemary-apricot-bars/

    Jessica S.- the bowl/plate is thrifted from Goodwill unfortunately :( Those are the best places to find unique serving wear though!

    S- I apologize for the layout, I realized I should have titled the first 8 ingredients (from greasing the pan to salt) under “crumb topping” and the remaining under filling. If you follow the written directions closely though, you should be fine.

  • Hi, as a Brit, I am always so perplexed/ shocked/turned off when I see cornstarch being used in a filling of deserts/pies/flans. There is really no need for this ingredient. Give the puddings a chance to let their runny/fruity/juicy aesthetic to make their magic and leave out that synthetic/stodgy/ fake goo for the long -shelf -life manufactured blaah sold in supermarkets. Go on… give it a try :)

  • What a lovely recipe! May I ask where the owl table cloth is from/who it is by, please?