This post will be about one of the biggest icons of American cooking. We do not say “As American as watermelon granita” for a reason. What you may not know is that apple pies have been around since the middle ages! Originally the pastry surrounding the fruit was not meant to be eaten; only used as a container to hold the fruit until it was time to be eaten…. Also the pastry contained no sugar and were called coffins, very unappetizing. Sugar became more readily available in the 1500-1600’s and pastry started to sweeten up a bit. Most European countries have some version of the apple tart or pie of their own, if you have ever eaten in an IKEA then you know about the Swedish version. So what about these pies make them American? More than likely, that our apple pie is truly a blending of the different cultures that make us American; our apple pie recipes take a bit of all the best parts of other European recipes and make the sumptuous dessert we know and love. Nearly everyone I know has a family recipe for apple pie, usually dating back further than anyone can remember.
Apples, if you don’t know, are not native to the United States. English settlers brought the seeds with them, planted the trees, and introduced these wonderful fruits to the new world. The famous saying about the patriotism of the pie is actually a short version of the original saying “As American as mothers and apple pie.” This saying of course brings forth all the warm fuzzy feelings of your mom cooking for you in pearls and apron. So next time you bite into an apple pie think of the journey that sweet treat has made and of course ENJOY!
My recipe of apple pie is my own blending of research on other people’s apple pie recipes and my southern heritage. (I throw some pecans in for a slightly nutty taste.) While I do cheat a little by using a prepared pie crust you could always make your own pie crust should you choose to. I usually do not have time (or the patience) to wait for pastry to set up. It should be noted I don’t make really healthy desserts…. In my opinion, desserts are not health foods they are meant to be pleasurable experiences. Please try my pie recipe and let me know what you think!
Apple Pecan Streusel Pie
1 pie crust prepared
7-8 large, peeled, cored apples (I use Cameo apples because I like their taste. However any apple or combination of apples would work.)
1 Lemon (Squeeze juice over apples as you slice, if you like grate some rind into the mix for added tartness.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (based on your liking of cinnamon)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped Pecans (I chop in a food processor for a fine chop)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (I only eyeball this to cut my sodium)
1 stick of COLD butter (cut into small cubes, do this ahead of time and put back in the refrigerator to make sure they are really cold)
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare Apple Filling: In large bowl combine apple, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and melted butter. Let this mixture sit at room temperature while you are preparing the streusel. (or about 15 minutes.)
Prepare Streusel Topping: In food processor place your pecans and chop until a find chop is achieved, don’t make pecan butter just a fine chop. Blend in the remaining dry ingredients, flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt. Add butter and use the pulse option on the food processor to just combine the butter. You want this mix to be coarse and to have clumps of butter in the crumbs; this is how the streusel is made.
Fill the prepared pie crust with apples and juices, you can press down on the filling to pack it if you like. Spread streusel topping over entire pie. Make sure all the filling is covered. Place pie on baking sheet or foil lined oven pan, and bake 15 minutes. This causes the pie to brown. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for another 60 minutes, until filling bubbles and streusel is golden brown. If necessary ( I always find it necessary) cover pie loosely with foil, I always spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to anything. The foil will prevent the pie from burning. Remove from oven. Cool for 2 hours. Serve!