I know the title is braggy, and I’m sorry, but this Streusel Apple Pie deserves as much hyperbolic praise as it can get. The apples are blanketed and bound up with a custardy coating, and a thick layer of sweet, crumbly streusel topping makes this like an amazing apple crisp in a pie crust. It’s the best apple pie topping ever (says me). Also, streusel is a highly enjoyable word to say.
The Ultimate Thanksgiving Apple Pie
I make three of these every year for Thanksgiving, and have for many, many years. Thanksgiving is always at my parents’ house, usually with twenty-some-odd people, and there are a number of other desserts on the table as well. One pie is gone in moments, and the second pie gets carved into, though there will almost always be some left. Almost everyone is a bit-of-this-and a bit-of-that when it comes to desserts and you don’t want to miss my sister’s cheesecake.
The third pie almost never leaves the kitchen. More on that shortly.
In this Streusel Apple Pie, the apples are blanketed and bound up with a custardy coating, with a thick layer of sweet, crumbly streusel topping.Tweet This
A Word About Thanksgiving
Let’s take a moment from the discussion of pies to say that Thanksgiving is both my favorite and most tension-producing holiday of the year. I know there are many of you with me on this. All of our family dynamics are on full display, and at some point buoyed by a glass of wine too many someone says something they shouldn’t, or a dog greets a cousin’s crotch with too much enthusiasm, and a mini-drama ensues.
Or I forget to put a pan under the pie, and that causes the fire alarm to go off. Or the timing of the day gets wayyyyy off, and my father-in-law asks theatrically — intended comically — when exactly we are going to eat, more like, “Hey, oh my God, where’s the food? We’re starving out here!” which puts a pained smile on my mother’s face.
Apple Pie with Streusel Topping
Anyway, back to that third pie. For a long time I made them all at my parents’ house, the morning of Thanksgiving, at which point my mother always said with disingenuous surprise, “Oh! You’re making three pies? Do we need three pies? We never seem to cut into the third. Really, never.” And I try to unclench and remind her that I, too, like leftover pie, and since Thanksgiving is not at my house, I make that third pie to feed my family and the 6 to 10 in-laws I have staying with us for the weekend. Who also like leftover pie.
And now, problem solved, I make the pies at my house! I bring just two to her house! And as I walk out the door on Thanksgiving morning with the two pies, I give a little wave to the third pie sitting on my counter and whisper, “I will see you later, my sweet apple streusel pie.”
The pie is great still warm from the oven, and as you can see, I firmly believe a wedge for breakfast the next day is a gift.
What’s the Difference Between Dutch Apple and Regular Apple Pie?
This type of apple pie, with its streusel topping, is also known as Dutch apple pie. The streusel, a combination of sugar, flour and butter, and in this case, cinnamon and ginger, is what makes it “Dutch” as versus Regular apple pie which involves a pastry top.
Dutch apple pies sometimes involve a binder or custard filling along with the apples, as does this pie.
Best Apples for Apple Pie
Unless you have an apple that really loses its texture quickly when it is cooked, most apples are pretty great for apple pies. I like to use a combination. I always have some slightly tart Granny Smiths as part of the mix. Some other apples that make great apple pies are:
How Long to Bake Apple Pie
Apple pie needs to bake for long enough for the apples to become fork tender, but not turn to mush. It also needs to bake long enough for the crust to cook through, and not remain doughy, even on the bottom. This apple pie bakes for a total of about 70 minutes. The first 20 minutes the pie bakes with just the apple filling in the crust, then it bakes for another 50 minutes or so once the streusel topping has been added.
Streusel Topping for Apple Pie
You can make streusel topping in a number of ways: you can use your fingers to cut in the cold butter, or two knives, but the easiest way I know, especially if you are making a sizable amount is to use the food processor. See How to Make Great Streusel Topping in the Food Processor — a perfect crumb topping recipe for apple pie or just about any other fruit pie you can think of.
What is Streusel Topping Made Of?
I can’t think of a pie, or many desserts for that matter, that streusel topping will not improve. That lovely crumbly sweet topping is really just pure joy. Streusel is a combination of butter, flour and sugar, sometimes, with other ingredients added in, such as oats, nuts, and spices, particularly cinnamon. Sometimes it’s called a crumble topping.
Cooling the Pie
Make sure the pie cools on a wire rack until it is either just barely warm, or comes to room temperature. The custard will then have a chance to firm up. If you cut the pie while it is still too warm the filling will be loose and not hold together into slices. Slice the pie with a sharp knife to get the neatest pieces.
Other Apple Dessert Recipes (and a Cocktail!):
- The Felix Hot Ginger Apple Toddy
- Favorite Streusel Apple Crisp
- Easy Apple Crisp Recipe
- Dutch Baby Pancake with Sauteed Apples
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Best Apple Streusel Pie
For the Streusel Topping:
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
For the Pie Filling:
- 6 large Granny Smith apples or a mixture of Granny Smith and any other firm baking apple, peeled, cored, and sliced about 1⁄2-inch thick
- 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- whipped cream or vanilla ice cream optional, but well worth it, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the streusel topping: Combine the 1⁄3 cup of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, the ginger, and salt in a food processor and give it a good whirl. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Do not overprocess; you don’t want a paste (see Cooking Tip #1). Set the streusel topping aside.
- Make the pie: Put the apples in the pie shell.
- Combine the 1 cup of granulated sugar and the 3 tablespoons of flour, the 1⁄2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and the cloves in a small bowl.
- Beat the egg in a large bowl, then add the cream and vanilla and blend well. Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture and stir to blend. Pour the custard mixture over the apples; if the mixture comes more than three quarters of the way up the side of the crust, stop pouring so it won’t bubble up and overflow.
- Place the pie on a baking sheet in the oven (see Cooking Tip #2) and bake it for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pie from the oven, making sure the custard mixture doesn’t pour over the side. Evenly and carefully (take your time) distribute the streusel topping over the top of the pie. Carefully (again) return it to the oven and bake until the top is browned and a knife inserted into the pie ensures that the apples are cooked through, about 50 minutes longer.
- Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes until room temp or barely warm, then serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired (and who wouldn’t desire that?).
Cooking Tip #1If you don’t have a food processor, you can make the streusel topping by using your fingers to rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the topping is fairly uniform and crumbly.
Cooking Tip #2It is a good idea to put a baking sheet under the pie pan as it bakes (you can put it right under the pie pan, or on a rack below if you have the oven space), as the streusel topping can tend to bubble over the side a bit, and trust me when I tell you that your kitchen will get more than a little bit smoky if that happens.
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