Let the Thanksgiving Baking Begin!

November 16, 2015


There’s not a log of wiggle room in our Thanksgiving meal.  Everyone’s got a dish they simply have to have, which doesn’t leave a much room for the new.  There are two stuffings Michael considers essential. Nick wouldn’t be happy if we didn’t have mashed potatoes. I want sweet potatoes with miso butter.  Betsy wants smashed peas. Pat doesn’t think it’s Thanksgiving unless there’s red cabbage. Peter requires a salad….. You get the point.

Dessert, however, is different. While we always have pumpkin pie (for Michael), pecan pie (Michael again) and cranberry crostata (me), every year I get to make at least one new pie. It’s been a great apple season, and last night I began experimenting.

No need to keep going; this pie will definitely be on this year’s Thanksgiving table.

Apple Crumb Pie with Sour Cream

Begin by making an all-butter crust.  Put a cup and a quarter of all-purpose flour into a bowl.  Shake in a bit of salt.  Slice a stick of cold sweet butter and then cut it into the flour, either by hand or using a food processor, until the butter is reduced to the size of small peas.  Sprinkle in a couple tablespoons of ice water and a tablespoon of vodka, and keep adding liquid until the ingredients will just hold together in a ball. Gather it up, flatten it to a disk, wrap it in wax paper and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or up to a few days). 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it gently out on a floured surface. Fit it into a deep-dish 9 or 10 inch pie pan, flute the edges and put the crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Mix a cup and a quarter of sour cream with a half cup of sugar.  Whisk in a couple of eggs, 3 tablespoons of flour, a bit of salt and a couple teaspoons of vanilla.  Grate in a small shower of lemon rind. 

Peel 5 large interesting apples – Cox’s Orange Pippins are good, as are Ashmead’s Kernel, Knobbed Russets, Arkansas Blacks and Esopus Spitzenbergs.  (If you’re stuck with supermarket apples, opt for Granny Smiths.) Core the apples, slice them and fold them into the sour cream mixture.  The aroma, as you pour it into the chilled crust, will make you very happy.

Mix a half cup of flour with a quarter cup of sugar.  Sprinkle in some salt and about a teaspoon of cinnamon. Cut in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of butter until it’s crumbly, pick it up and shower it evenly across the top of the pie.

Put the pie on the bottom shelf of the hot oven.  After 10 minutes turn the heat down to 350 and bake for another hour or so, until the top has puffed into a lovely golden dome.  Cool on a rack before serving.


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