I don’t know why it’s called “French” Apple Pie (or sometimes Dutch Apple Pie), I only know that is what we called the crumb-topped pies when I worked at the apple ranch many moons ago. There are, of course, many types of crumb to top a pie with, but only one really passes muster (and I am strongly opinionated in this matter). Oat topped apple pies are an abomination, as are pies with a wimpy dotting of crumbs across the top. (Gluten-free) flour, sugar & butter are the only ingredients necessary to make a perfect topping…the cinnamon should be in the apples, not in the crumble.
The crumb topping should be thick shell through which the molten apples underneath must struggle to bubble forth. It must crack under the fork and not get soggy under any circumstances–especially when topped with soft vanilla ice cream. It must be just as good after spending the night under a light blanket of plastic wrap…because everyone knows that leftover apple pie makes the very best breakfast.
The first time I made my version of this pie, the same pie we made in the bakery at the apple ranch, it was a production. My kitchen was a terrible mess and it seemed like it took forever. But now, I’ve got things down to a science and I can have it in the oven in about 30 minutes. A partner is preferable–enlist the kids or your spouse to peel the apples or do the dishes–but you can go it alone too. Put on your favorite Pandora station, pour yourself a big mug of tea (or wine) and get to work, peeps. It will probably seem impossible to fit all the apples and the crumb topping in the crust. But you can do it…I promise.
This is pie perfection.
PS I must mention that my pie crust recipe comes from Karen Morgan at Blackbird Bakery.
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour, plus more for dusting
- ¼ cup sorghum flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced
- 3 large eggs
- 14 small-medium sized green apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices (about 5 pounds)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- the juice from one lemon
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated is best
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
- 2¼ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 14 tablespoons cold butter, cut in cubes
- Prepare the crust. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine all the dry ingredients on low speed. Slowly add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and pulse until the mixture forms one solid lump.
- Turn out onto a work surface, dusted with rice flour and knead 3 times. Divide in half, pat each half into a disk, and wrap well with plastic. Freeze for 30 minutes. (This recipe is enough for 2 bottom crusts. The second crust will keep for several months is wrapped tightly and sealed in a freezer bag).
- Remove one disk from the freezer after it has chilled. Place a sheet of parchment on the counter and dust with sweet rice flour. Unwrap the dough and place on the flour. Dust the top of the dough with more flour and top with a second sheet of parchment. Roll the disk into a 10-inch round with a rolling pin. Remove one sheet of parchment and place the round into a standard pie plate dough side down. Remove the second sheet of parchment. Tuck any dough that's overhanging the edges under and crimp the edge of the pie decoratively. Place the crust into the freezer to chill while you prepare the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the prepared apples with the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Prepare the topping. Quickly wash & dry the food processor. To it add the flour, sugar, brown sugar and butter. Pulse until crumbs form.
- Remove the prepared crust from the freezer. Pour the apple mixture into the crust. Gently press them into a dome shape. Using your hands, tightly pack the crumb mixture on top, completely covering the apples.
- Place the pie on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours, or until the pie is lightly golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If necessary, tent the pie with foil if it is browning too quickly.