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Sour cream apple pie with walnut crumble topping

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If there were a best pie in the world, this would be it. Not that apple is the tops for sure (go cherry), but somehow this particular pie just takes the cake. Well... Think of the very crispest apples holding their shape under a crust. Dream on to taste a silky smooth undercurrent of tart custard holding them together on a bottom crust you just sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar. Up on top, chunky browned walnut streusel holding it all together and adding a buttery crunch to each bite. There you go. You got it. The best pie in the world. And it's yours. Now or at Thanksgiving. Or Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day...or today if you've made your partner/friend/neighbor/father mad and need to make amends. This pie could make saying, "I'm sorry," not so terribly difficult. And he just might share a piece. Very rich indeed, this is a very special occasion sweet, and calls for just a tiny slice. Or two.

Sour Cream Apple Pie with Walnut Crumble Topping Serves 6-8

Crust:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1T white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  1. In food processor place flour, butter, and salt. Pulse until mixture has several different sized lumps from rolled oats to peanut M&M-sized.
  2. Pour ice water in slowly, while processing, and continue processing until dough just begins to hold together. Do not over-process.
  3. Remove to a well-floured board or counter and quickly pat together first into a ball and then into a disc. Sprinkle both the disc and the rolling pin with flour and roll into an circle about 1/8" thick and 2" larger than the diameter of your pie pan. Turn the pie pan upside down and hold it over your dough to check size. (You can also do this between sheets of waxed paper on a dampened counter, turning over and rolling once on other side to release dough after your dough is about 11".) Carefully and loosely roll pie onto your rolling pin and drape over the pan so that you can
  4. Line a 9" pie pan with the dough, making sure there are no air bubbles in the bottom on the crust. Trim overhang and crimp. If you don't know how to crimp a pie crust, use a table fork and press the edges of the dough into the rim of the pie plate. I recommend glass Pyrex pie plates so you can see how done the crust is.
  5. You can buy pre-made dough in the refrigerator section at the market. Fit it in the pan and continue. Don't buy frozen crust, please.
  6. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small cup and sprinkle evenly over the crust.
  7. Place crust in refrigerator while you cut the apples.

Preheat oven to 350 and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Make the filling and then the topping.

Filling:

  • 6 tart apples such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose, unbleached flour
  1. Place sliced apples in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, sugar and egg. Add salt, vanilla and flour. Beat well.
  3. Stir into the apples and mix well.
  4. Pour apple mixture into the cinnamon-sugar pie crust and make topping.

Topping

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1T cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl using a fork and softened butter if by hand or using a food processor and cold butter if making by machine. Do not over-process; it's nice for the walnuts to not be too small here. If you'd like them in larger pieces, stir them in at the end.

Spread the topping over the apple mixture in the pie crust.

Place filled pie on foil-lined baking sheet and carefully set the sheet in the middle rack of the oven. Bake about an hour, checking the last 10-15 minutes to see if pie is getting too brown. If so, place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the pie. Pie is done when the crust is nicely browned, the apples are tender (check with a paring knife), and the topping is crispy and golden. Let cool completely (or nearly) before slicing.

About the recipe

Having made this pie for years, I've developed my own method and a combination of several recipes to do it. The pie dough is the pâte brisée recipe Cuisinart used to put out with its food processors in the early '80s maybe. (There's no date on mine) The cinnamon sugar is my addition. The pie filling is part of a similar recipe (Sour Cream Apple Pie) in THE SILVER PALATE by Sheila Lukens and Julee Rosso (Workman, 1979). The topping is a from a pie in a September, 1984 issue of FAMILY.

For more info:

The "U" website--all about Minnesota apples, which are (of course) the best

Smitten Kitchen's post on pie crust

Melissa Clark's video on making crust

Best mail-order pies, I'm not baking, thank you.

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