Apple Pie: A Herald of Feasts to Come

At our house, the best dishes are the ones prepared for the Holidays.  Starting in September, my mother and I start cooking up little teasers for the feasts to come: oatmeal cookies, orange or lemon chiffon cake with dark chocolate icing, and Russian salad.

But the dish that really serves as the harbinger of upcoming goodness in our home is streusel-topped apple pie.  Most people find it unusual that a Filipino family would actually find itself baking apple pies for the last few months of the year because traditional kakanin  or store-bought treats like food-for-the-gods and brownies are what usually grace local tables.  Along with ube cake, apple pie ala mode was my maternal grandfather’s favorite dessert.  Later on, when I finally mastered the art of baking these cinnamon-infused goodies, my own father developed a taste for them and looks forward to the baking of a new batch.  On a sadder note, however, apple pies are one of the reasons why my paternal grandmother and I do not get along.  But that is a story for another day… 

Our family’s take on this classic dessert involves a flaky crust filled to the brim with apples lavishly coated with cinnamon sugar.  A buttery crumb topping is generously sprinkled onto the whole confection before it goes into the oven.  Sweet and simple, really.

It’s a lovely dessert when served either hot or cold.  Warm slices are garnished with a generous scoop of very good vanilla ice cream and, perhaps, a good splodge of caramel cream.  (Use the caramel cream recipe I used in my banoffee torte; just skip the chilling and use straight from the stovetop.)  Served cold straight out of the fridge, it also makes for a lovely breakfast when paired with a hot, milky mug of cardamom chai.

Apple Pie
For the Crust:

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup iced water

For the Filling:

  • 6 medium apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the Streusel:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter

Grease a nine-inch pie plate; set aside.  Cut the shortening and salt into the flour with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture has the appearance of fine breadcrumbs.  Add the iced water by tablespoons, tossing the mixture with a fork until well combined.  Form dough into a ball and set upon a floured surface.  Roll out the dough to approximately 1/2 inch thickness and line the prepared pan.  Set aside. 

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees / Gas Mark 5.

Make the streusel by cutting together the flour, brown sugar, and butter till the mixture also resembles breadcrumbs.  Set aside.

Toss the sliced apples with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour.  Leave to rest for about five minutes.

Dump the filling into the prepared crust, evenly spreading it over the surface.  Spoon any juices left in the mixing bowl onto the fruit.  Cover with the streusel.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes.  Makes 1 pie.