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Maureen Lombard's Apple Crunch Pie

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup lard
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
Flour (for rolling)
For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces

For the filling:
3 pounds large tart apples, such as Granny Smiths
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the pastry: Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the lard and work the mixture with a pastry blender or blunt knife until it resembles crumbs. Add enough of the water to make a mixture that holds together in a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it lightly. Roll it out and line it into a deep 9-inch pie pan. Flute or crimp the edges and refrigerate the pan.

For the crumb topping: In a bowl with a pastry blender mix together the flour, brown and granulated sugars, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Set the oven at 450 degrees. Place a rack on the lowest position of the oven.

For the filling: Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut them into thin slices. In a bowl toss the apples with the lemon juice.

In another small bowl combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add this mixture to the apples and toss well.

Mound the apples in the pie shell, higher in the middle than at the edges. Pat the crumb topping evenly all over. Set the pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. If the pie is browning too much during baking, cover it with foil, shiny side down.

By Sheryl Julian, Globe Staff

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