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Friday, November 22, 2013

Grandma's Apple Crumb Pie

My dad's mother, Lydia Jane Savage Peterson, baked a week's worth of pies most Monday mornings and in numbers large enough for a family of eight. Dad loves apple pie in particular and told my mom he would peel all the apples if she would make the pies. I'm not certain when this recipe became the family favorite but it's the only apple pie I remember eating. As I grew up we didn't have pie every week, but we ate them often and there was never a Thanksgiving or Christmas without this pie. I can't resist the shortbread crumb topping and as a child often annoyed my mother by picking bits off. My fingers have never have been tempted by frosting on a cake, but it is all I can do to leave these crumbs alone.

One piece of advice: bake two of these pies, at least. This pie makes a sublime day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast. On Black Friday I'd rather sit eating apple pie than fight bargain-hunting crowds. My brother, Sam, recently taught me the best way to eat it early in the day--pour cream over your piece of pie. Nothing like keeping up the calorie count.


Grandma's Apple Crumb Pie

Source:  Betty Peterson

1 9-inch pie unbaked pie shell, see either Vodka Pie Crust or Grandma's Old Fashioned Pie Crust 

6-8 cooking apples, depending on the size (I like golden delicious)
1/2 c sugar
1 teas cinnamon
2 T cornstarch

Peel and slice the apples into a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch over the top. Stir until well blended. Place the apples into the pie shell and set aside. I like to have so many apples that the pie is a bit mounded at this point. When they cook, the apples will shrink and mounding ensures a thick pie.

For the topping:

1/3 c salted butter
1/2 c sugar
3/4-1 c flour, to make crumbly short bread struesel

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the sugar. Then add the flour.  I like the crumb topping to have some fairly big crumbs--about the size of a pea and up to the size of a small marble. If you add to much flour, it will be more powdery, which is all right but not quite as attractive. So start with the smaller amount of flour. If the mixture looks more like a dough than crumbs, add a bit more flour.

Spread the topping over the apples. This can be difficult if you've mounded the apples quite high. Just use one hand to catch the crumbs that roll off and put them back on. There may be a few apple slices that peek out but that will change as the apples settle during baking and cooling.

Bake at 375F for 50-60 minutes, until the apples are softened. You may see some bubbling of the thickened juices. Remove from oven and let cool. If you can't wait and eat the pie warm, it won't stay in wedges, but it will taste wonderful anyway.

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