Okay, let’s have some real talk here. Years ago, before pumpkin spice stole the show in a big way, apple pie represented Fall. Now, perhaps I’m just getting old, but I remember looking forward to apple season so that I could indulge in this delicious dessert…and let’s be honest, I still absolutely do! Nowadays, however, I also share my love with pumpkin spice (everything). I’ve told you before that I largely associate memories with food. Apple pie reminds me of my family’s traditional gatherings for Thanksgiving and lazy Sunday afternoons binging Lifetime movies with my mom. My mom used to make the tastiest apple pie with a bottom and top crust. I remember the smell that would permeate our house while it was baking, and to this day, it’s one of the most comforting smells I know! Over the years, I gradually morphed my mom’s recipe into my Sky High Apple Crumb Pie, named after my baby girl, Sky. I think every home should smell like this pie at some point during the Fall season and every child should have a memory of this smell that they get to tell somebody about some day! Trust me, this is one of those recipes that you pass down through generations and build traditions off of.
So let’s talk about what you will need to make this memory. For the homemade crust you will need flour, Himalayan pink salt, sugar, unsalted butter and ice water. For the filling you will need Macintosh apples, Granny Smith apples, sugar and cinnamon. For the crumb topping, you will need sugar, flour and salted butter. It’s important to note that I only ever use a combination of Macintosh and Granny Smith apples for this pie. My reason for this is because both apples are tart and I love the flavor of a tart apple in my apple pie (you can regulate the sweetness of your apples and adjust them to your liking with the addition of extra sugar. When adding extra sugar, I suggest adding extra cinnamon as well). The texture of each apple differs however. The Macintosh apple has a soft texture that breaks down into almost applesauce during the baking process, while the Granny Smith apple has a harder texture that holds it’s shape. This is why I pile my apple mixture sky high before baking it, because it settles down into the perfect deep dish pie when it cools and the Granny Smith apples settle in on the Macintosh.
We will begin by making the crust, but before I get into the steps, I briefly want to explain the reason I make my crust the way I do, because I think it will help assist you in following the steps I provide properly. Making a perfectly flaky, buttery crust rather than a rubbery, chewy crust boils down to regulating the gluten activation in your flour. Gluten is responsible for the elastic texture of dough and it is activated with liquid (in this case, water). Now, because it’s necessary to use water in this recipe to bind the dough together, I regulate the amount of flour that actually has the ability to absorb the water by separating my flour and using my fat (butter) to completely coat a little over half of the flour. The butter encapsulates that half of my flour completely and renders it waterproof. This way, only about half of my flour has the ability to soak up the water I add, therefore drastically reducing the gluten production.
Equally important to the gluten activation, is the temperature of your butter and water. They MUST be ice cold. The reason for this is that cold butter will maintain its solid form. When your food processor breaks it down into small, pea-sized crumbs, those solid crumbs then get flattened and rolled out into long strands with your rolling pin which results in those lovely flaky layers we all strive for in our crust. The ice cold water just allows the butter to maintain it’s form while it helps to bind the ingredients together into a dough. Okay…crust education is over!
Now, let’s get on to making this Sky High Apple Crumb Pie! Begin by preheating your oven to 400˚F.
To make the homemade crust, add 1 ½ cups flour, salt, and sugar to your food processor. Pulse about 4 to 5 times to mix thoroughly. Scatter your butter around in the food processor on top of the flour mixture. Pulse until your flour is completely coated with the butter (a paste will form and begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl); about 15-20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in the remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse about 4 to 5 times to incorporate. Do not overmix (the mixture will look like crumbs).
Scrape your dough into a medium bowl. Add about 4 Tablespoons of ice water to the dough. Mix the water in with a rubber spatula. The crumbs will start to come together. If your dough still falls apart, add in 2 to 4 more Tablespoons of water until it holds together when pinched. Turn your dough out onto a clean surface and gather it together to form a ball. Cut the ball in half and form each half into a disc shape (do not overwork the dough). Wrap each disc in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for one hour or up to 2 days. This dough can also be frozen up to 4 months – just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using it).
When you’re ready to make your Sky High Apple Crumb Pie, remove your dough disc from the refrigerator and let it set on the counter for about 10 minutes to soften a bit. Flour a pastry mat thoroughly before laying your disc on it. Flour the top of the disk and your entire rolling pin thoroughly and roll the dough out to about a 12-inch circle. Transfer your dough to a pie dish by starting at one end of the dough and rolling it around the rolling pin. Unroll your dough off of your rolling pin and onto your pie dish. Gently press your dough into your pie dish to line the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim off the excess dough. Crimp the edges of your crust by pressing the edge of your dough with the pointer finger of one hand into two knuckles of your other hand pressing into your dough on the opposite side. Refrigerate while preparing your apple filling.
To make the filling, add your sliced apples to a large bowl; set aside. Pour your sugar and cinnamon over your apples and toss with your hands to coat thoroughly (if your apples are extra tart, you can increase the sugar to 1 cup and the cinnamon to 1 ¼ teaspoon). Pile your apples sky high in your pie crust, making sure to taper them out toward the edges (this step is important, because as I explained above, the Macintosh apples will break down during the baking process and your pie will level out into a thick, deep-dish pie. If you skip this step, your pie will settle after cooling and have a crater in the middle of it.)
Finally, to make your crumb topping, blend together your sugar, flour, and butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers (the mixture will be crumbly). Spoon it evenly over your filling.
Bake in your preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, or until your apples are soft and the top is lightly browned. Do yourself a favor and make this à la mode with some vanilla ice. I’m so excited for the traditions this Sky High Apple Crumb Pie will create for you and your family!
Sky High Apple Crumb Pie
This Sky High Apple Crumb Pie is the perfect pie for fall when the apples are ripe for the picking. Tart sliced apples, perfectly seasoned with cinnamon and sugar, are piled sky high in a homemade, flaky, buttery, pie crust, topped with a delicious crumb and baked up to perfection!
2 ½ cups flour, divided
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes
4 to 8 Tablespoons ice water
5 Large Macintosh apples (washed, peeled, cored, and sliced)*
5 Large Granny Smith apples (washed, peeled, cored, and sliced)*
¾ cup sugar (increase to 1 cup for very tart apples)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (increase to 1 ¼ teaspoons if increasing sugar to 1 cup)
½ cup sugar
1 cup flour
8 Tablespoons salted butter (cut into 8 slabs)
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Homemade Crust: Add 1 ½ cups flour, salt, and sugar to food processor. Pulse about 4 to 5 times to mix thoroughly. Scatter the butter around in the food processor on top of the flour mixture. Pulse until flour is completely coated with butter (paste will form and begin to pull away from sides of bowl); about 15-20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add in the remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse about 4 to 5 times to incorporate. Do not overmix (mixture will look like crumbs).
- Scrape dough into medium bowl. Add about 4 Tablespoons of ice water to dough. Mix water in with rubber spatula. The crumbs will start to come together. If the dough still falls apart, add in 2 to 4 more Tablespoons of water until it holds together when pinched. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and gather it together to form a ball. Cut the ball in half and form each half into a disc shape (do not overwork the dough). Wrap each disc in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour or up to 2 days.
- When ready to make pie, remove dough disc from refrigerator and let it set on the counter for about 10 minutes to soften a bit. Flour a pastry mat thoroughly before laying disc on it. Flour top of disk and entire rolling pin thoroughly and roll dough out to about a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie dish by starting at one end of the dough and rolling it around the rolling pin. Unroll dough off rolling pin and onto pie dish. Gently press dough into pie dish to line the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim off excess dough. Crimp edges by pressing edge of dough with pointer finger of one hand into two knuckles of other hand pressing into the dough on the opposite side. Refrigerate while preparing apple filling.
- Filling: Add sliced apples to a large bowl; set aside. Pour sugar and cinnamon over apples and toss with hands to coat thoroughly (if apples are extra tart, increase sugar to 1 cup and cinnamon to 1 ¼ teaspoon). Pile the apples sky high in the pie crust, making sure to taper them out toward the edges (this step is important, because the Macintosh apples will break down during the baking process and your pie will level out into a thick, deep-dish pie. If you skip this step, your pie will settle after cooling and have a crater in the middle of it.)
- Crumb Topping: Blend together sugar, flour, and butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers (mixture will be crumbly). Spoon evenly over filling.
- Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, or until apples are soft and top is lightly browned.
- * You can substitute 1 (9 inch) frozen deep dish pie crust for homemade crust.
- The dough for your homemade crust can also be frozen for up to 4 months – just thaw it in your refrigerator overnight before using.
- * I like to use a mixture of Macintosh and Granny Smith Apples, because the Granny Smith Apples hold their shape during the baking process, while the Macintosh Apples break down into the consistency of apple sauce, resulting in the perfect combination for the pie.