Apple Pie with Crumb topping

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Apple Pie with Crumb topping

It’s snowing here in New England. You know what that means? An early trip to the grocery store.  I beat the crowds (it’s a sport here) and planned my baking day as I wandered. By noon I had already made giant blueberry muffins and an apple pie. APPLE PIE! Nothing makes the house smell so delightful. Such comfort food! I prefer an apple pie with crumb topping. More cinnamon and sugar for the win!! I have no magical pie crust recipe. I’m just not good at making pie crust…..butter? Crisco? Ugh. So, you can use your own recipe or cheat like me and buy a crust. Yup. I’ll say a few Hail Marys for my soul, but the crust is the just vessel of sweet cinnamon and cooked apples into my mouth. I’m not embarrassed. (Maybe just a little). I do make a great crust for apple galette that does not work well as a pie.

The secret to the crumb topping is to make it before you peel the apples and then let it sit in the fridge to harden. This technique makes it easier to sprinkle over the ready-for-oven pie.

5 Granny Smith apples

1 tablespoon all-purpose King Arthur flour, any brand will do

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Crumb Topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ cup cold butter

1-9 inch Pyrex pie plate

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the topping by mixing flour, sugar and cinnamon is large bowl. Add cold butter that’s been cut up in small pieces. I like to use a pastry cutter, but you can use a food processor, a fork or even your hands. Make sure it is all mixed. Place in fridge to harden a bit.

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Peel your apples. I like to do them in one spiral piece. It’s just something I like to do. There is more than one way to peel an apple. Next you will need to core your apples. If you don’t have an apple corer, just slice around the core. I cut the apples in half and then make 6 slices from each half. If the apple slices are too thick, the pie will take too long to cook. Just a helpful hint. When I was coring my apples, I pushed a core through my finger. It got stuck. I panicked. Then I realized this isn’t like the wrought iron rails on my parents front steps that I got my head stuck in….I mean my friend’s head…..I could eat my way out of this. How often can you say that?

Once peeled and sliced, I put the apples in a big bowl. If you don’t have a bowl big enough, you can use a clean pot. If you don’t have a pot big enough, just do half the apples at a time. I put a tablespoon of flour in with the apples to help thicken the juices. You don’t have to. I use about ½ cup of sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon in the apples. I like to toss them using a knife. It’s tradition. You can use your impeccably clean hands instead. Then taste an apple. Very important. If the apples need more sugar or cinnamon, now’s the time to add them. I read on the internet that the French don’t use cinnamon in apple desserts. If it’s on the internet it must be true! Oui?

Now the apples are ready for the pie shell. I crimped along the top of the crust with my fingers. Not artfully, may I add. You can press it down with a fork. There’s lots of ways to prepare your crust. Most people like to just dump the apples in the pie crust. I like to place the curved back of the apples along my pie crust. I systematically place the apples around the pie crust, in several layers. This may sound excessive, but it helps prevent the pie from collapsing after you bake it. The center of the pie should have more apples than the side, like a mound. If there is any of the cinnamon/flour mixture, sprinkle it over the top of the apples.

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Now it’s time for the crumb topping. Place your pie plate on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can also use aluminum foil. The topping will fall off and burn. You don’t want to clean that off your baking sheet! Sprinkle the crumb topping all over your pie. Have a taste or two! This recipe makes too much topping for the pie. I just haven’t done the math to reduce it. If you have any pie crust scraps, you can sprinkle this mixture over them and bake. It’s a treat for the kiddos! My mother used to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over her pie scraps. It made us all so happy.

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Bake your pie at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Check your pie by putting a sharp knife into a cooked apple. If it goes in easily, the pie is done. If not, then cook for another 5-10 minutes. Another sign of doneness is bubbling juices in the pie. That makes my heart happy. Let pie cool before serving. You can have it plain, with vanilla ice cream or even whipped cream. Enjoy!

 

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A woman sconed………

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Simple Scones

 

It’s snowing, again. When it snows I have my own personal bake-off. Today I thought scones for breakfast would please the fam damily. This recipe is one I’ve been using for years. I like to add dried fruit to my scones. You can dice up apricots, or dried cranberries or dried blueberries. Trader Joe’s has freeze dried fruits. I love using them in scones. I also love chocolate chips in scones. I like to use the mini chocolate chips, but any kind of chocolate will do. Okay, I love scones. Today I made plain scones because I made some strawberry rhubarb jelly last week. A little butter on a warm scone, topped with jam or jelly is heavenly.

 

2 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour

1/3 cup of granulated sugar

¾ tsp. salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 to 2 cups of chopped dried fruit, chocolate or other flavored chips (optional)

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract or flavoring of your choice

¾ cup half-n-half or milk (I use 2% milk)

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. If you using an 8-wedge scone pan, lightly grease the wells. Or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Cut in the cold butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. It’s okay for some larger chunks of butter to remain. I used to use my hands to do this. They have been achy this winter, so I bought a pastry blender. What a difference this makes. It does a great job, does it quickly and my hands don’t hurt afterwards. Yay me.

Measure milk in measuring cup and add the eggs and vanilla extract. At the risk of sounding too Martha-Stewarty or Ina-like, use a good vanilla. I like to use vanilla extract that has some flecks of vanilla bean in it. It enhances all your baked goodies. Beat together to break up the eggs. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

 

I use a scone pan, but you can you a muffin tin, or parchment paper. See the original recipe for those cooking directions. I like to sprinkle my scones with sparkling white sugar for a great crunch. You can use granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar, or just leave them plain. Bake scones in pan for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let them sit for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Serve warm with butter and jam. These freeze well too.

Treat yourself!

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