Charlie’s been making this pie for a while, and he always gets extremely rave reviews with it. (This photo is from when he and Ben made the pie for me once!)
You may have noticed when I posted the recipes from All Over Your Face, I omitted the apple pie recipe. That’s because when we made our pies, we weren’t happy with the quality of the apples we were able to get during the first week of August. It really wasn’t quite apple season yet. I decided to hold off and post this recipe during peak Granny Smith apple season, since that’s our apple of choice for pie-making. In the New York area, that’s about the third week of September.
Our process with the assembly line pie-making madness for the pie-eating contest was that Charlie would make the dough, I would peel all the fruit, and I would put together the spices and sugars and flavors for the filling. He almost took over on the apple crumb pie, but it ended up being a team effort. I made the filling, and he made the crumb and the dough. Although this is a recipe that he often is wholly responsible for, I’ve taken the liberty, for the purposes of this blog, of making the adjustments that I would make were I making the pie entirely on my own. That is, his version is quite a bit sweeter than mine, but otherwise, it’s essentially the same.
A few more notes on picking your apples… We’re fond of the Granny Smiths because they’re a bit tart and they’re sturdy, so they won’t break down into mush in your pie. You definitely want to avoid Macintosh, as even though those are great for eating, they’re not ideal for baking pies with. Some good options for acquiring your apples are at farmers markets, pick-your-own farms, or leeching off a friend’s CSA. Farmers markets will have a live person to make recommendations about which type of apple from their crop they’d recommend for pie. Pick-your-own farms usually have a map of the orchard with a “Good for eating vs. good for pies” breakdown. Farm shares might have a website or an email that they send out regarding their harvest, or you might just have to guess. In general, you want a firmer, somewhat tart apple.
If you’ve always wanted to try out buying from a farmers market but never did, autumn is the time to do it. Last year I was horribly depressed about our food production situation in this country because I walked into a chain grocery store in September and saw the beautiful displays of apples, of varieties that are local to New York state, but upon closer examination, the apples that were on the shelves were from Washington state, thousands of miles away.
Farmers markets have produce that is local to the area, often organic, and it’s obviously a much closer connection to your food if you’re able to talk to the people who grew it. Although farmers markets sometimes are rumored to have notoriously high prices (these rumors have some truth and some fiction), depending on where you live, apples are often even cheaper at farmers markets than at the grocery store during peak season.
Pick-your-own farms are a really fun alternative to shopping at the grocery store. They’re another way to get fresh, local produce, and have an adventure. This Pick Your Own website can help you find a pick-your-own farm near you. Produce often ends up being super cheap because the farmers don’t have to pay for labor. Some of the farms are quiet, family places, and others are monstrosities with corn mazes and petting zoos and country stores and live music, so you can choose whichever you feel is appropriate for your adventure.
Another way to get local food into your pies is if you have a friend who belongs to a farm share, or Community Supported Agriculture organization. They sometimes get more apples than they know what to do with during this time of year. Let them know that you’re planning to bake, and they’ll likely share the bounty with you when they end up with 30lbs of apples over a couple of weeks. We belong to Catalpa Ridge Farm’s CSA and we love it. (I’m pretty sure I’m going to use all my apples, though!)
Onto the recipe…
1 pastry for double-crust pie (I used Charlie’s Consistent Win Pie Crust)
1 sleeve crushed graham crackers (plain is recommended or it will be quite sweet)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butter
6 to 8 apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
While you’re slicing up the apples, keep them floating in some water and the lemon juice so they don’t turn brown. When you’re ready to start, drain off the water. Next, add the cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and flour, and give it a good stir. If you don’t like things very sweet, add the sugar a little at a time and taste it as you go.
Next, in a separate bowl, prepare the crumb topping. Mix graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and flour. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Roll out half the dough and place it into the pie pan. Give the apples another good stir, then dump the mixture into the pie crust, mounding them in the middle if possible.
Wash your hands, since we usually do this next part with our hands. Carefully pour the crumb topping into the center of the pie crust, leaving about an inch of apples showing around the edge in between the crust and the topping. Pack the crumb fairly tightly, again, creating a mound in the center of the pie.
Next, roll out the rest of your pie crust, making strips to form a lattice top crust. If you need detailed directions on how to make the lattice crust, they’re also in Charlie’s Consistent Win Pie Crust recipe. Optional: For complete irony, cut out an Apple logo and affix it to the center of the pie. Brush an egg wash (one beaten egg and one tablespoon water) over the top lattice crust if desired.
Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes or until the crust is browning and the apple filling is bubbling. Depending on how much filling you have or how picky you are about having a clean oven, you may want to set your pie tin on some aluminum foil or on top of a baking sheet covered in parchment to catch any drips of sticky fruit.