Apple Crumb Pie

Loosely based on a recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition

Bottom Crust:
1 ¼ cups flour (I used an even mix of all-purpose and white-wheat, but all all-purpose is also good)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 tablespoons/one stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks

Crumb Topping:
1 cup flour (I again used a mix of all-purpose and white wheat)
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional but nice for texture)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks

5-6 large apples (I think 2-2.5 pounds is what I used – I like Pink Lady)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
zest of one lemon
1-2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur or whiskey (optional but adds nice flavor)
¼-½ cup golden raisins (optional but very nice)

Make the crust:  whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry cutter, your hands, or a fork until it’s all incorporated in pea-sized pieces.  I recently invested in a high-quality pastry cutter, and I do think it makes crust-making easier.  Sprinkle the water over the crust one tablespoon at a time, tossing the mix gently with a fork after each addition.  Turn the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, give it a few kneads to get everything to adhere, pat into a round disc, and wrap firmly in the plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least half an hour (and hour or so is perfect).

Make the crumb topping:  whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cornmeal.  Cut the butter into this mixture until it looks like a crumb topping (with the butter in pea-sized chunks).  Set aside – I’d put it in the fridge if your kitchen is warm, but if it’s a cool day, you can probably just let it sit on the counter.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the filling:  peel, core, and slice the apples into ¼” or smaller slices and place in large bowl.  Add the golden raisins if you’re including them.  Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Sprinkle over apples and raisins and stir.  Add lemon zest and amaretto/whiskey if including them.  Stir again.

Roll out the bottom crust into an 11” circle and lay into a 9” pie plate, folding over excess dough and crimping the edges with your fingers or a fork.  Add apple mix.  Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over apples.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until crumb topping is brown and filling is bubbling (you can hear it).  To prevent the crust from burning, use an aluminum ring after the first 15 minutes of baking.  If the crumb topping starts to brown before the pie seems very done, tent a sheet of aluminum foil on top (I’ve never had this problem).