I baked an apple pie yesterday just because...just because it's fall, and fall is all about apples. When I was a kid, a common school field trip was a visit to an orchard where we watched truck loads of just-picked apples being driven up to the market, where we drank samples of fresh cider, and where we were fed donuts, the cakey kind. Those northern Indiana orchard markets were great memory makers with pumpkins and bales of hay and the smell of outside. Sigh.
Streusel Apple Pie
from Bon Appetit, November 1999
First, the crust.
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Add butter and shortening. Process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until dough is firm enough to roll out, about 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch glass pie dish. Crimp edges.
Now, for the pie.
2/3 cup walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch slices*
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
For streusel: combine nuts, brown sugar, cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in processor. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and process until small moist clumps form.
About the nutmeg, scrap that bottle of ground nutmeg and go buy whole nutmeg. Then go buy a kitchen microplane and enjoy the aroma of freshly-grated nutmeg. This tool is great for zesting fruit and grating ginger, too.
About the processor, while mixing things by hand is just fine—and some of you will suggest that's the only way to truly get in touch with your food—I say a food processor is a great tool, and when I use mine, I am perfectly in touch with my food.
For filling: position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375˚F. Toss apples with sour cream in large bowl to coat. In a small bowl, mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss to coat.
Transfer filling to prepared crust. Sprinkle streusel over apples, covering completely. Bake pie until apples are tender and streusel is golden, tenting with foil if streusel browns too quickly, about 1 hour.
*One of my favorite kitchen tools, one that is only used in the fall when I am nostalgic for apples and pie and the smell of nutmeg and cloves, is an Apple Master. This thing cores, peels, and slices all at the same time.
This pie is tart and full of flavor, and the crust is just right. I've never made a pie crust I thought was worth repeating, but this is a recipe I'll use again. I apologize for the quality of this photo—the blob on the side is vanilla bean ice cream.