This recipe is the only thing that's getting me through the fact that summer is almost over.
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Despite a major heat wave and plenty of pandemic precautions still in place, there's something magical about summer. Even if it's no longer a 3-month vacation, as it was in our school days, the overall pace of life seems to slow down...at least a tiny bit. Fresh summer produce is popping, the weather is warm enough to enjoy time in nature and ice cream outings are a regular occurrence.

So it's always bittersweet when September approaches. Labor Day is now less than two weeks away, and fall officially begins 16 days later. One thing that makes the imminent season shift more sweet than bitter, though? Rediscovering an Ina Garten recipe for a fall fruit crisp while catching up on old episodes on Discovery+. After hearing Garten introduce it at the start of the show, I immediately hopped online to save the recipe. As I did so, I was even more tempted to try it ASAP after seeing fan reviews like, "major hit," and "what an amazing old-fashioned dessert. It's one of my favorites and I love how the house smells when you bake it. It's what heaven smells like!"

A portrait of Ina Garten on a designed background with a fall theme
Credit: Getty Images / Noam Galai / Margarita Balashova

The "It's Friday Night Again" episode from the Barefoot Contessa archives included a Chicken Piccata "with the most delicious lemon and white wine sauce," according to Garten. Her husband Jeffrey—who she enjoys designing recipes for so much she created an entire Cooking for Jeffrey cookbook (buy it: $17.68, Target)—enjoys some variation on a chicken dinner to wrap up the work week. Garten's menu for this show also featured "every man's favorite vegetable": Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, plus a side of Herb-Roasted Onions and the ultimate comfort food dessert, Apple and Pear Crisp.

"I love to make fruit crisps. First of all, they're easier than pies. And I think there's nothing more welcoming for Jeffrey when he walks into the door than the smell of fruit baking," she says.

Garten talks us through how to make it: Begin by peeling, coring and cutting ripe yet firm Bosc pears and Fuji, Macoun or another crisp apple variety into big chunks. If you can't find any of those apple styles, "you can always use Granny Smith," she suggests. Zest an orange and a lemon, then juice them. Add all of the above to the bowl with the fruit.

"The juice is going to mix with the flour and sugar and make that sort of 'goo' that makes it so delicious," Garten says, in her uber-relatable way.

Scoop in the sugar and flour next—you could also use cornstarch, if desired, Garten says—plus a spoonful of ground cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix to combine, then transfer to a large 9- x 12- x 2-inch oval baking dish (like this Le Creuset Heritage Au Gratin Dish; buy it: $70, Le Creuset).

In a stand mixer (Garten uses her KitchenAid Classic Plus 4 ½-Quart Stand Mixer; buy it: $299.99, Target), combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, oats and diced cold unsalted butter.

"Most crumble toppings are made essentially the same way, and you can add whatever you like. You can add seasonings, you can add nuts," Garten suggests, such as more cinnamon or nutmeg to echo the fruit filling, plus perhaps toasted pecans or walnuts for heart-healthy fats and crunch.

Mix on low until the topping forms large crumbles, then sprinkle over to "cover the whole top, so the fruit is protected. It's going to just be bubbly and delicious inside and crisp on top."

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly...and until you can barely handle the aromas wafting around your home without diving in! Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, as the fan suggested, or a dollop of whipped cream.

"When I walked in, the first thing I smelled was that apple crisp. It lured me right into the kitchen! With a meal like this, I wish there was more than one Friday a week," Jeffrey admits, as he digs into another bite of the fruit dessert.

Get the Apple and Pear Crisp recipe here to make early and often all fall—and beyond with your other favorite fruits. In the summer, try this with peach and raspberry, Garten recommends, or come winter, whip it up with all pears. (We think this would also work wonderfully with thawed frozen fruit any day of the year!) And before summer officially concludes, sweeten the season with one of our 19 best fruit cobblers for summer.