Perfect apple crumble pie

Apple pie made easy with a homemade crumble crust.

Three Many Cooks
Apple crumble pie with homemade pie crust.

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 recipe Rich, Flaky, Easy-Roll Pie Dough (see below) or one 9-inch refrigerated pie crust, pre-baked following package instructions

Apple Filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 pounds crisp, firm apples, such as Granny Smith, cored, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick (a heaping 12 cups)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Oatmeal Crumble Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted but not hot

THE CRUST: Following recipe below, make and bake “Rich, Flaky, Easy-Roll Pie Dough” or pre-bake a refrigerated piecrust.

THE FILLING: Meanwhile, mix sugar, cinnamon and salt; toss with apples. Heat butter in a large (11- to 12-inch), deep skillet over medium-high heat until it looks and smells pale nutty brown. Add apple mixture; cover and cook until they soften and release their juices about 7 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until juices thicken to a light syrup, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch, brandy, and vanilla in 1 cup of water; stir into apple mixture until it thickens, less than a minute. Transfer apples to a jelly roll pan to cool quickly; refrigerate or set in a cool place until apples cool to room temperature.

THE CRUMBLE: Meanwhile, mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, and cinnamon; stir in butter with a fork until well combined. Use hands to form clumps.

THE PIE: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour cooled apples into baked crust. Sprinkle crumble over apples. Bake until apples are bubbly and crumble is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly or to room temperature and serve.

Rich, Flaky, Easy-Roll, Pie Dough
Makes one 9-inch pie shell

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, frozen, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, frozen and cut into ½-inch pieces
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) very cold cream cheese
3 tablespoons ice water

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade to combine. Add butter; toss to break up butter cubes and coat with flour. Plus 4 or 5 times, 1 long second each. Break cream cheese and shortening into flour mixture; toss to coat. Pulse another 4 or 5 times, one long second each, until fats are pea and pebble size. Add water; pulse twice, one long second each, to evenly distribute the water (dough will not have come together). Dump mixture into a bowl; press with palm of hand to form a cohesive ball.

Halve dough, making 1 portion slightly more generous than the other. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap; press each into a thick disk. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. (Can be refrigerated 2 days or frozen 2 months)

Set dough disc on a floured work surface; roll into a 14-inch circle. Fold dough in half, and quickly lift dough into pie plate and unfold. Lift edge of dough with one hand and press dough into pan sides with other hand so that dough fits in pan and is not stretched in any way. Trim excess pastry dragging on the work surface. Tuck overhanging dough back under itself so folded edge is flush with lip pan and flute. Refrigerate dough until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, prick pie shell at 1/2-intervals. Press a 12-inch square of heavy-duty aluminum foil inside pie shell and weight with several heavy-duty aluminum foil balls tightly packed in the plate. Refrigerate to let dough relax, at least 30 minutes longer.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake pie shell checking occasionally for ballooning, until crust is firmly set, about 15 minutes. Remove foil, and continue to bake until crust is crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes longer.

Sharon Anderson blogs with her mother and sister at Three Many Cooks.

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