My children, oddly enough, aren't crazy about apple pie. My mother made a very good one, so I know this isn't because they've never tasted it done properly. However, when I mentioned the cinnamon-apple crumble-topped pie, they were unusually enthusiastic, possibly because of the extra deliciousness implied by those additional syllables. The only apple pie impairment my wife and I suffer is the inability to stop eating it.
However, when we scanned the ingredients, our eagerness suffered a blow: the recipe calls for raisins. Not just raisins, but a whole cup of raisins. My children's faces fell, my wife's became suddenly thoughtful, and I realized that raisins in a pie (other than mincemeat which is all about raisins and booze) is a deal-breaker.
When you bake a raisin in a dessert, it will take on the sugary liquid surrounding it and attempt to become a grape again. Of course, it never gets farther than a kind of half-deflated grapiness. This is why, if you're making a danish with raisins or popping them into a rice pudding, the recipe often calls for soaking them in something beforehand; they're going to try to expand anyway, so why not plump them with something interesting, like brandy or rum? In this case, they just soak up the intensely sweet apple-cinnamon juices and swell to alarming proportions.
Whatever Bridget may tell you, the crust is not a big deal. I preferred not to use the Cuisinart only because I didn't feel like washing it, so I used a bowl and a pastry cutter instead. My butter was a little hard-still partially frozen, actually-so I got my hands in there to break up the larger pieces, which may have made the finished crust a little tough-I have large, very warm hands, the scourge of short crust the world over. There are all sorts of supposed "secrets" to delivering a tender, flaky crust, and this one advocates a teaspoon of cider vinegar along with the water. I didn't discern any difference in the finished crust, but neither could I detect the taste of vinegar, so I suppose it doesn't hurt to try it. I still prefer Bon Appetit's "Best Ever Pie Crust," a lard-and-butter charmer that consistently cooks up flaky, tender and delicious. Here are step-by-step pictures of that recipe from my post on Peach Pie.
It's apple season in earnest these days, and I had wanted to use an heirloom variety, but all the apples at the Star Grocery were far too small. If you have to peel apples, you owe it to yourself to get the biggest ones you can find and save yourself some labor. In the end I went ahead with Granny Smiths, which are a little one-dimensional flavor-wise, but their sourness was necessary given all that sugar in this recipe.
All told, this is a good pie, although it's sweet-tooth-achingly sweet. There is 2/3 a cup of sugar in the filling, along with another 3/4 cup of sugar in the crumble topping. That's more than one and 1/3 cups total or more than 2 1/2 tablespoons per 1/8 pie wedge(!). It's best served in smaller slices, with a strong cup of coffee on the side.
I love this crumble topping, and while I might not make an apple pie with it again (although, without question the best pie my wife and I ever ate was an apple-raspberry crumble from the Julian Pie Company, in Julian, California) I will definitely employ it in the next berry-or apple-crumble I make. It's easy and just about perfect.
The pie cooked up as promised, and emerged from the oven (after a late tenting with foil) brown and handsome. The crumble topping stayed intact while being cut, which impressed me. And the taste, while extraordinarily sweet (we've established this, right?) was well-balanced and memorable. But those raisins. They were huge and unwelcome. My wife neatly extracted and corralled hers at the far side of her plate, where they sat, forlorn and guilty. I, on the other hand, had raisins lurking in every bite, and couldn't get over what a weird textural combination it made: soft and yielding (apples) paired with squishy and juicily explosive (raisins).
More from bon appétit:
The BA Foodist
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A Lesson In Knife Skills
BA Project Recipe Blogger, Chris, gives his expert advice on slicing and dicing.
The Well Stocked Kitchen
Everything you need to cook anything you want with this bon appetit guide.
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