Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pie In the Sky

As many of you may have noticed, I've been gone from the blog for quite some time. The reason? We've moved once again! After a stressful two months of finding out we needed to move ASAP and making it happen, I'm happy to report that I will continue cooking and writing from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, albeit slightly further north (is that East Harlem I see from my window?). And what better way to break in a shiny new kitchen than with a delicious, warm apple pie? 

It is fall, after all, and if you're not a baker by nature, this pie's for you. The filling is simple and fast, and I opted for a deliciously crunchy, sweet and salty crumble topping. I'm personally not a big fan of pastry topping on pie (all that rolling and measuring and crimping, oy!) despite how beautiful a properly made crust can look. I much prefer a crumble-style topping, which aside from being quick-cooking and foolproof, brings an added layer of flavor and crunch.

I wanted to start fall off right with an apple pie, but decided to make use of some beautiful cherries that I bought at the height of their season and froze (for those of you doing the math, that's right, I actually moved them from one apartment to another; I ascribe to a strict "no produce left behind" policy). But if you don't have cherries, cranberries make a fine seasonal substitute. Just add extra sugar to the filling to compensate for their tartness, and go with frozen instead of fresh so you don't have to cook them down beforehand. 

I used a mix of Empires and Jonahgolds for the apples, but any good baking apple works. As for the crumble, I went with a slightly unconventional ingredient, eschewing the traditional flour/butter/nut combo. I used my favorite granola which had oats, almonds, honey and vanilla, and added a nice chunky texture. All I needed to do was cut in the butter, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and it was good to go, no added sugar necessary. So, if you're looking for a new pie to make this fall, or even this Thanksgiving, this is a great option. It's stress free, and since there's a wonderful crunchy topping, you don't even have to feel guilty about buying a pre-made crust!

Apple and Cherry Crumble Pie

For the Filling:
5-6 apples like Jonahgold, Empire or Honeycrisp, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups cherries, pitted and quartered
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 9-inch pie crust (homemade or store-bought is fine)
2 Tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes

For the Crumble:
1 1/2 cups granola (like Bob's Red Mill Honey Almond Granola)
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling: Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients except for the butter and crust. Fill the crust with the apple/cherry mixture, careful to keep it as flat as possible. Dot the mixture with butter, then bake, covered loosely with foil, for 30 minutes or until apples have just started to droop and soften.

For the Crumble: While the filling bakes, combine all of the crumble ingredients in a bowl. Kneed them together until butter is well incorporated and even clumps are formed. Refrigerate until the pie filling has finished pre-baking in the oven.

Once the filling has baked, carefully remove it from the oven and top with the crumble. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crumble has browned and crisped, then cover with foil and continue baking another 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow 2-3 hours to cool. Enjoy! 


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