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Apple Pecan Crumble

November 18, 2010

Something about fall makes me dream about pies. Cooking pies. Eating pies. Sharing pies with friends and family. Sure, summer has its peach pies and strawberry-rhubard pies, cherry galettes and blackberry tarts. All are delicious. But fall has its apple pies, pumpkin pies, and pecan pies. For me, at least, autumn and its savory-sweet-goodness-baked-into-a-pastry-crust is about as good as it gets. I’m guessing that this has something to do with the proximity of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday). Or maybe it has something to with the fact that fall is simply my favorite season (see my bias here?). Regardless, autumnal pies are simply delectable, and this one is no exception.

I especially love this pie because it combines two of my favorite fall flavors: apples and pecans. Who doesn’t love a cinnamon-laden apple pie in October? And bourbon pecan pie is a Thanksgiving staple in this household. Somehow, this pie manages to meld the best flavors of each, all wrapped up in an incredibly flaky crust. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to serve it with a little vanilla ice cream… yum.

APPLE PECAN CRUMBLE

Adapted from Southern Pies

Pecan Crumble

1 cup toasted pecans, cooled and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

Apple Filling

8 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg white (egg wash for pie crust)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out one disk of all-butter pie dough (recipe below) on a lightly floured surface until it forms a 12-inch disk (about 1/4 inch thick). Transfer dough to a pie pan, and gently crimp the edges with your fingers. Refrigerate until you’re ready to fill the pie.

Combine the flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup of pecans in a food processor. Grind until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl, and add the remaining 2/3 cup of pecans. Use your hands to squeeze the crumble topping into larger clumps. The goal here is to form slightly larger crumbles for the topping. Put the crumble topping in the refrigerator with the pie crust, until you’re ready to assemble the pie (about 30 minutes).

Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/2 inch thick slices. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl, and mix together with a fork. At this point, the mixture will be very thick, and you’ll wonder how on earth this sticky stuff is going to combine with the apples. But don’t worry. Simply add the apples and lemon zest, and let the whole thing sit for a few minutes, tossing gently a few times. The sugar and spice mixture will soften and dissolve, coating the apples nicely (see picture).

Pour the apple filling into the refrigerated piecrust, and distribute evenly. Sprinkle the refrigerated crumble over the top, and gently press into place. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the egg white onto the edges of the piecrust (this will give it a nice, golden color once its baked).

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until the crumble is golden and the the filling is bubbling, about 1 hour.

Cool the pie on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

BUTTER PIECRUST

From Smitten Kitchen

Makes enough dough for two single-crust pies, or one double-crust pie.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

Special tools: pastry blender

Fill a one-cup measuring cup with water. Drop a few ice cubes in so that the water gets very cold. Whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Dice the butter into small cubes (about 1/2 inch), and drop into bowl. Use the pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture, until the butter is the size of small peas. This won’t take long (just a few minutes), and you don’t want to over mix, so stop as soon as the butter is pea-sized.

Drizzle 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix the dough together. You’ll probably need another 1/4 cup of cold water to bring the dough together, but add it only a tablespoon at a time. Once large clumps form, use your hands to gently knead all the clumps into one mound of dough.

Divide the dough into two disk-shaped mounds, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one to two hours before rolling out.

If you’re only making a single-crust pie, place the other disk of plastic-wrapped dough in a freezer bag for another use (maybe an impromptu pie next weekend?).

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