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Monday, August 8, 2022

American Pie

Apples, as in the forbidden fruit, have a long history of provoking lust. Their pie counterpart has a more wholesome characterization: “As American as apple pie.” How American is apple pie? The dessert has taken on different forms over centuries: Dutch apple pie, apple tart, apple crumb pie, etc. The culinary roots of apple pie variations parallel our cultural history as a “melting pot” nation.

This Dutch variation offers a crumb crust and a streusel-type topping. This pie is versatile: If you have a great crust you like, this filling works well for it. I make it in the fall, apple season, because freshness improves the taste. For this pie, I went to Joe Engelbrecht Fourth Generation Orchard (16820 Petersburg Road), where more than 800 apple trees cover 12 acres. There, local experts told me Jonathan apples are the quintessential apple for baking a pie. Good news: Engelbrecht has 105 Jonathan apple trees.

Dutch Apple Pie

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup pecans, crumbled (20 seconds in a food processor works well)
5 tablespoons butter, melted
Mix all ingredients together; mixture should be formable, but not very wet. Press into a greased nine-inch pie pan, aiming for uniform thickness on the edges and the bottom. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Chill until firm (approximately one hour).

Filling:
4 Jonathan apples (Granny Smith also works well), sliced
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Add to chilled pie crust. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Streusel:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) softened butter
Mix all ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle streusel topping over apple pie and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

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