Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumnal Cravings Indulged: Home-picked Dutch Apple Pie with Bacony Crumble

Apple picking is one of those things.  It's one of those things that is so basic and seems so unquestionably part of Fall that surely everyone must have done it at some point.  But I never had.  Despite knowing Johnny Appleseed's song by heart, and despite having eaten a Granny Smith in my lunch every day for the better part of my childhood, I had never picked an apple from a tree, really, until a few weeks ago.  That wrong had to be righted (word?!).  Luckily here in New England - it's the thing to do in the fall (pick apples? right wrongs? both.).  So when Roman's school put together a little child-parent apple-picking outing to a local family-run Cumberland Farm - Orchard Hill Farm -, we all jumped at the chance.

old-timey apple sorter
The farm itself was quaint as can be, with a little farm house full of freshly baked apple cider donuts, several varieties of other apple baked goods, souvenirs, old-timey toys and fresh apple cider.  They had an old fashioned apple sorter, pumpkins for sale, and bags to collect apples in for relatively cheap prices.  They also offered a fun hayride through the orchard pulled by a beautifully restored 1951 John Deere tractor.  The tour guide was one of their sons; he was hilarious with his monotone delivery of the orchard-history-apple-guide spiel and odd joke. 
keeping the doctor away
We all thoroughly enjoyed it, but especially Roman, who after 5 minutes of picking went straight into apple-devouring mode.  He would take one bite, drop the apple and run to the next tree, despite our efforts to stop him.  In the end he ate 3 whole apples on his own: "That should keep the doctor away for at least 3 days" said another parent. :)

The orchard boasted several types of apples: Granny Smith, Mcintosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and more.  I made sure to get a variety with a heavy emphasis on the Granny Smiths and Cortlands which make awesome pies.  And speaking of awesome apple pies, I made the best ever apple pie with our bountiful harvest, and here is the recipe along with some pictures of Roman's antics.

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Dutch Apple Pie with Bacony Crumble

Serves 6-8

I have now fully jumped on the bacon-in-dessert train.   And after this dessert, I am actually honking the horn and shoveling the coal too.  :)  There is bacon only in the special crumble that typically goes on top of a Dutch Apple Pie (as opposed to the double-crust American one), so you can easily omit it without sacrificing any flavor, but I say go for it.  If Decadence is your game, this apple pie is your new Game. 

I combined two recipes to make my pie adding bits and pieces of my own as I went along, so I owe them a mention: Dutch Apple Pie and Bacon Apple Pie.  I am also now toying with the idea of somehow involving cheddar cheese in the crumble - reminiscent of my cheesey apple cobbler.  Ah, how I love to combine savory and sweet!

1 homemade or pre-made crust for 9" pie pan:  

Apple Filling
(I always eyeball the spices so go with what you like)
4-5 cups of apples, chopped and peeled (half Granny Smith, half Mcintosh)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (semi-coarsely ground)
fruits of our labor
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground giner
pinch of allspice
1 ground clove (a small pinch)
1/4 salt 
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
3 tbsp butter

6 strips applewood-smoked bacon (or whatever you have on hand), fried until crisp then chopped into small pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of finely ground black pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Roll out the crust into a 12-inch circle and loosely place on pie dish allowing a 1/2-inch overhang all around and trimming as necessary.  Crimp the edges decoratively.  Poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork then place foil over it folding the edges over the edge of the crust for protection.  Then put baking beads or a smaller glass pie dish on top of the foil and bake the crust in lower part of the oven for about 20 minutes or until it looks light and dry in color.  Increase the temperature to 425F.
Note: you may have to bake it less time.  Keep an eye on it as you don't want the crust to brown or it will burn when you bake it with the filling and crumble.

2. Make the filling by combining all the ingredients except the cream and butter in a large bowl, tossing until well covered.  Then melt the butter in a saucepan and when the foaming has subsided, add the apples.  Cook covered for 10-15 minutes until tender and a caramel sauce starts to form.  Add the cream and bring to a boil uncovered and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a caramely thickness.  The granny smith apples will hold their shape while the mcintoshes will start to break down a little.  Remove from heat and set aside, allowing to cool.

3. Make the crumble by combining the flower and sugar in a bowl.  Next add the butter and use fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the two together until pea-sized crumbs form throughout.  Next add the chopped, cooled bacon to the mix, evenly combining.

4.  Pour the semi-cool apple mixture into the crust and spread out evenly.  Put the crumble mixture on top and bake at 425F for 10-20 minutes or until the topping and crust are golden brown.  If your crust starts to brown too much, use foil to cover the pie edges and continue baking.

Enjoy!  Pickers can be choosers :)

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  1. I just got done commenting on another blog's post on apple cobbler about how much I miss the variety of apples in the States! I'm limited to Red Delicious and Granny Smith, but my all-time favorites are Honey Crisp and Cortlands. Looks like Roman had such fun at the orchard and you at your oven! I would so love a slice of this pie. Sweet, tart, salty, buttery - mmmm....!

  2. Hey Tangled - thanks :) It's great to hear from you and I would definitely have sent you a piece if I thought it would make it over to the Philippines in a decent state ;) Hop you are doing well and enjoying all the sweet, sour, and salty adventures in Asia!