Now that we’re in the peak of apple picking season, it's time to post one of my favorite apple pie recipes. Some people find making pies a daunting task. There are stories, mostly said in hushed tones, about my mother throwing more than a few pie crusts against the wall. I must admit, rolling out a homemade pie crust can be intimidating at first. There are several variables that can throw a “wrench” in your dough – humidity, temperature of the butter, amounts of water, types of flour, overworking the dough - all can influence the outcome of your crust. Once you master a pie crust recipe, and you truly learn the “feel” of pastry in its various stages, it will be a breeze to roll out a pie. If it still seems too challenging, there are some acceptable store bought pie dough brands. Wholly Wholesome, which has won the praise of Cook’s Illustrated, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple Magazine and CBS The Early Show, offers organic easy to use rolled pie dough and pre-made pie shells. If you have a Trader Joe's market, try their butter rich frozen pie crusts – just thaw, unroll, and use with your favorite recipe. I like two-crust apple pies, but using a “crisp” or “crumble” topping is also a nice choice, especially if you’re using a pre-made pie shell. The brown sugar, butter and oats bake into a crisp caramel like topping that complements the apples perfectly. Celebrate apple season with this blue ribbon pie.
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
¼ cup finely chopped pecans or almonds
1. Pulse flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt to combine. Add butter and process until mixture has texture of coarse crumbs (some pea-sized pieces of butter will remain), about 12 one-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl, stir in oats and nuts, and use fingers to pinch topping into peanut-sized clumps. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
1 pie crust shell, store bought or homemade
3 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (use one type or a variety – I prefer a mix of Braeburn, Golden Delicious, and McIntosh apples)
2-4 tablespoons flour (depending on juiciness of apples)
¼ -½ cup sugar (depending on sweetness of apples)
1 teaspoon lemon zest from 1 medium lemon
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup heavy cream
1. Position rack in lower third of oven and place empty rimmed baking sheet on rack, preheat to 400°F.
2. Fit pie crust into 10” deep dish pie plate and flute or crimp edges. Chill.
3. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt and toss with apples and lemon juice to combine. Place apple mixture in pie shell, they will mound very high – press down slightly. Pour cream over top. Gently apply streusel topping to apples, pressing it into the slices. The streusel should cover the apples but not cover the edge of the pie shell.
4. Place the pie on preheated baking sheet; bake for 25 minutes, then transfer to center rack, reduce temperature to 350°F and bake an additional 45-60 minutes; pie should be golden brown and apples will be tender when tested with a sharp knife or skewer.