One of my favorite memories from childhood involves pies. Though my mother cooked from scratch almost every night, we were always on our own for dessert. This usually meant grabbing a piece of fruit or a Popsicle from the freezer. But occasionally, we would make a special trip to the Marie Callendar’s down the street. We would order four different slices of pie, because each of us refused to share. And whenever we traveled, we would search out the local pie shop to compare versions of our favorite pies.
Mine was always French Apple, served warm and á la mode, of course. But when I discovered a flat of blueberries from last week’s trip to the farmers market just beginning to wrinkle in the fridge, I decided on this variation. Below are the recipes for both fillings. When it comes to the apple version, I like the tartness and texture of Granny Smith apples, but if you prefer a sweeter and softer filling, add some McIntosh or Gala. The melted butter adds a slick richness to the apples, but you can omit it without anyone noticing.
These are pies you can prepare several days ahead, freeze them unbaked, and then pop them into the oven a few hours before serving. Both recipes are keepers…one for those late-season blues and one to save for a crisp fall day.
1 prepared frozen pie crust, preferably whole-wheat
4 1/2-pint containers blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose white flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 large Granny Smith apples (or combination of Granny Smith plus McIntosh or Gala), peeled, cored (I use a melon baler for this), and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 lemon (squeeze over the apples as you slice them)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter (optional)
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter or margarine, cut into small cubes
Vanilla ice cream for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. Prepare the apple or blueberry filling: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and allow to macerate for 15 minutes.
3. Prepare the streusel: In a food processor, mix the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse the machine to incorporate. The texture should be like coarse crumbs.
4. Fill the prepared pie crust with the fruit and juices, pressing down gently to accommodate all the filling (it will cook down during baking). Spread the streusel over the entire pie.
5. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350° F and continue baking for another 60 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the streusel is golden brown. If necessary, cover the crust and pie loosely with foil to prevent over-browning.
6. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a rack for at least two hours before serving. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Looking for another warm and cozy dessert for fall? Try Chocolate-Coconut Fondue, delicious for dipping fresh berries, clementines, grapefruit, pineapple, mango, even marshmallows and pound cake.
Photo credit: CrookedRiver / photobucket