It's apple season, and in our household that means apple pie. But not any apple pie, mind you. God forbid that nasty canned apple pie filling. I'm talking the kind of apple pie you have to spend some time on, peeling apples, coring and cutting them into thin slices. I've even made an apple pie using shredded apples. Not bad, but nothing in comparison to my grandma's Dutch apple pie. I've tried making so many different apple pies, but I always come back to hers.

There's really nothing better then a slice of pie warm from the oven topped with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. Forget frozen yogurt, and thank goodness there's no longer ice milk on the market — at least that I know of. If you're going to consume the calories of a piece of apple pie, you might as well top it off with full-flavored, full-fat vanilla ice cream.

Dutch apple pie is different from others in that it has no pastry crust covering the top. As you may well know, it's all about that brown sugary-butter crumble that melts in your mouth and tickles your taste buds.

With all of the apples now filling market bins, which are the best for making pies?

Granny Smith, in my opinion. The perfect balance of sweet and tart makes them ideal. But Honeycrisp, Fuji, Braeburn, Winesap and Gala are good choices as well. Or blend several varieties for flavor and structure. One tip to ensure even baking, though, is to try to cut uniform slices so the slices end up tender at the same time.

Grandmother's Dutch Apple Pie


1 cup all-purpose flour (preferably White Lily)

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, well-chilled, diced into small cubes

3-5 tablespoons ice water

Streusel topping:

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Apple filling:

1 1/2 pounds (about 4) Granny Smith apples, peeled cored and sliced 1/4-inch-thick

1 1/4 pounds Winesap or other good cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 1/4-inch-thick

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make crust: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add butter, and cut into mixture using a pastry blender or in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until there are just small pea-size clumps of butter throughout.

Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and toss until mixture is just moistened and comes together in bigger clumps. If using a food processor, process just until mixture starts to clump together and form a ball. Gather mixture into a ball, and shape and press into a smooth, 6-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Cover and refrigerate until dough is more firm, about 60 minutes.

Remove dough, roll out into a 12 1/2-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fold in half then into a quarter, or wrap around a rolling pin and transfer to a deep-dish pie plate and unwrap. Fit to plate, fluting edges if desired.

Refrigerate until well-chilled, about 1 hour. Meanwhile heat oven to 400 degrees.

Line crust fully to edges with a sheet of foil or parchment paper, add dry beans, rice, sugar or pie weights to fill just level to the top. Bake pie in preheated oven 15 minutes, watching carefully to prevent overbrowning.

Hold all four corners of foil and remove beans. Prick bottom of pie crust about 10 times. Return to oven, and continue to bake until it's starting to dry, 8 to 12 minutes longer, watching carefully to prevent overbrowning. Remove crust, and let cool on a wire rack.

Move oven rack down one level from center. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

For the streusel topping: Add brown sugar to a medium mixing bowl, and break up with fingertips. Add 3/4 cup flour, nutmeg and salt, and whisk together.

Stir vanilla into 6 tablespoons melted butter. Pour into flour mixture, and toss until evenly moistened. Transfer to refrigerator while you prepare filling.

For the filling: In a large mixing bowl, toss sliced apples with 2 tablespoons melted butter and lemon juice. Add sugar, 3 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Toss mixture to evenly coat.

To assemble pie: Layer a handful or two of apple mixture into the pie dish at a time, spreading and pressing into an even layer and turning slices flat to help ensure you'll fit all of them in.

Remove streusel from refrigerator, break into small clumps and sprinkle evenly over the top of the pie.

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven until apples are almost fully tender when poked with a toothpick. They should have just a little give as they will continue cooking as the pie cools. Check pie a few times throughout baking to ensure the topping or crust isn't overly browning; if needed, tent with foil. If it's not browning enough, move oven rack up one level.

Remove pie from oven, and let cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

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Anne Braly