There was not a lot of pie in my house growing up. We had a lot of scrumptious homemade European desserts that my mother made, but pie was not included in the repertoire.
That meant that this year, when I decided that Emma *had* to have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, I didn’t have a long-held family recipe for pie crust. And the impression I had of pie crusts was they had to have shortening or lard, which did not appeal to me. I also really dislike pies that end up with soggy crusts. I went on a search and came across a No-Fear Pie Crust from Cook’s Country. I’ve had lots of success with recipes from America’s Test Kitchen and thought I’d give this recipe a go. Although Emma did not like the pumpkin of our pumpkin pie, she loved the crust and asked for it again (and again) after Thanksgiving. While tossing around ideas together around making a pie she would love, we came up with Apple Crumble Pie.
What a delectable result! I wouldn’t consider this a super-fast recipe to make (which is something I generally strive for), but it is easy (there’s no need to roll out the dough for the crust) and once the crust is ready, it goes very quickly from there. It also uses no shortening. I tend to prepare the crust a day in advance and then bake it the following day when we’re going to eat it. The pie itself tastes even better after a day or two when the flavours in the crumble filling have had time to meld, and is fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and positively sinful with a drizzle of fresh custard sauce.
Crumble Topping: (use the smaller quantities listed for a lighter amount of crumble)
1/2 to 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 to 2/3 cup rolled oats (quick oats are fine)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 to 2/3 cup butter, cold and cubed into 1″ cubes
5-6 baking apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I use Royal Gala or sometimes Granny Smith)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Grease an 8-inch pie plate and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Beat the butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl until it is smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until the mixture turns into coarse breadcrumbs. This should only take a few moments.
Scrape the sides of the bowl down and now on medium speed, mix until large clumps of dough form in the bowl. Set aside 3 balls of dough that are about 1 1/2″ in diameter.
Form a large ball with the remaining dough and flatten it into a 6″ (or so) disk. Place it into the bottom of the prepared pie plate and flatten it to fit the bottom and sides of the pie plate. (This will be about 1/4″ thick.)
Take the remaining 3 balls of dough, divide them each in half and roll them into snakes that are approximately 4″ in length. Put them around the edge of the pie plate and join them. Then, using your index finger and thumb to flatten the ropes slightly, pinch the dough all the way around the edge of the crust to finish it.
Refrigerate, covered with plastic, for about an hour or up to 2 days. Just before baking, prick the bottom of the crust lightly with a fork. Bake in the middle of a preheated (325F) oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
Heat the oven to 375F.
Next, prepare the crumble. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. Add the butter and using your fingers rub the mixture together until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples. Combine the apples with the flour, vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie crust. Then, evenly spoon the crumble mixture over top of the apples. Depending on how dark the pre-baked crust has become, you may want to cover it with some foil before putting the pie into the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until topping is golden.
Serve warm or room temperature on its own, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or drizzled with fresh custard sauce.