Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position oven rack to center of the oven. Lightly butter a 9x9x2-inch baking dish.
Prepare Pecan Topping and set aside.
Prepare Apple Filling. Transfer the Apple Filling mixture into the prepared baking dish. Using a wooden spoon, lightly press down to compact the Apple Filling into an even layer.
Sprinkle the Pecan Topping evenly over the top of the Apple Filling. NOTE: When cooked, the Pecan Topping will produce a nice thick and crispy topping.
Bake approximately 55 to 60 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbling around the edges. Apples should be soft when pierced with a fork or the tip of a knife. Check the cooking progress of the Apple Crisp after 45 minutes to judge your remaining baking time. When done, remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
The Apple Crisp may be served warm or at room temperature with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (if desired).
Pecan Topping Recipe:
1 cup unbleached or all-purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup coarsely-chopped pecans
In a food processor, pulse the flour and oats until the oats are finely ground.
Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt; pulse until combined.
Add butter and almond extract and pulse in short bursts until the mixture just starts to form crumbs and sticks together when you press it between your fingers.
Add pecan and pulse just to blend as you do not want the nuts to be cut up into smaller pieces. Set aside.
Apple Filling Recipe:
3 pounds tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely-grated orange zest (peel)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
* Gala, Pippin, Braeburn, Cortland, Jonagold, Granny Smith, and Winesap apples are all good to use alone or a combination of them.
In a large bowl, add the apples, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; gently toss until well combined.