I don’t know exactly how old I was (10ish?), but I still remember standing at the kitchen counter trying to roll out my pie dough and my grandmother guiding me through this process that was proving to be so much more complicated than I had thought it would be. I’ve made an apple pie every Thanksgiving since.
In fact, every Thanksgiving I made the exact same recipe, an apple pie loaded with spices from the 18th century in Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop. It’s a unique recipe (the only reason I have mace in my spice cabinet), and it’s good, but I got tired of making it. More than that, I got tired of making a lattice top pie (pretty though they are) and wanted to try a crumb pie. So last year I made a new recipe and I wish I could remember where I got it because it was the worst apple pie I’ve ever made and I want to be sure that I never make it again. It’s funny because none of my family members remember it being that bad, but when I cut into it, all I really got were some soggy apples swimming in their juices. I mean, it was edible, but it was definitely nothing to be proud of.
This year I was determined to make a successful crumb pie. I know, I could have just made my usual pie and just put a crumb topping on it, but I really did want to venture out and try some other things. And because of my swimming apples last year, I wanted to cook the apples beforehand to get the moisture out. Technically, I guess I didn’t need a recipe at all; I could have just cooked up some apples with some spies, thrown them in a pie shell and put a crumb topping on. So easy. But I saw this recipe and it looked good, so I tweaked it by adding a few more spices and doubling the crumb topping recipe. I thought it super tasty, but then again, add enough crumb topping to anything and it’ll bound to be pretty good, right? It’s definitely worth trying, so if you’re not pied out yet, give it a try.
Apple Crumb Pie
Adapted from Epicurious
The awesome thing about this pie (aside from the crumb topping) is that you can prepare all the pieces (crust, filling, topping) ahead of time. I made the pie dough 3 days in advance, rolled out and froze it in the pie plate (covered) 2 days in advance, made the apples two days in advance, and made the topping a day in advance. Then, the day of, all you have to do is blind-bake the pie shell, put all the pieces together, and bake. That way you can easily have fresh apple pie out of the oven even if you have a hectic day planned in the kitchen.
I doubled the crumb topping because I wanted a substantial crumb layer, but then wasn’t able to get quite all the crumbs on. I would still recommend doubling it if you’re like me and want a lot of crumbs. Or, if you really want to get mathy, you can just add a half recipe to the original.
Use the crust of your choice. I used the all butter crust over at Smitten Kitchen (you can halve the recipe because you only need one).
3 3/4 pounds apples, half Granny Smith and half Braeburn apples (about 8-10 medium), peeled, cored, thickly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
2 tablespoons apple cider
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
Prepare the crust of your choice, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it for several hours. Once you’ve rolled out your pie dough, place in a deep dish pie plate and crimp the edges. Poke the bottom all over with a fork. Freeze crust for 15 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake until golden and set, about 10 minutes longer. Cool.
Sprinkle the apples with the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Add the apples and sauté until coated with cinnamon butter and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in nutmeg and cloves.
In a small bowl, whisk the cider and cornstarch together and add to the apples. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Transfer the apple mixture to a large bowl and mix in the applesauce. Cool completely. (Filling can be made a day ahead, just cover and it and throw in the fridge.)
Using fingertips, rub all ingredients in bowl until moist clumps form.
Assemble and bake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the filling in the prepared crust and sprinkle the topping over the apples. Bake until the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes.