My oh my, give thanks for apple pie



Back from our recent trip to the True North Strong and Free, I am still savouring the Thanksgiving dinner we polished off just a few days before leaving. While I've spent the last 6 months enjoying many of France's fine culinary traditions, there was nothing I was anticipating more than a classic Canadian Thanksgiving with all the trimmings (OK, a Dairy Queen Blizzard was up there too).

In addition to the obligatory turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing we enjoyed a cheesy cauliflower and broccoli gratin, roasted squash with wild rice and mushrooms, and the now almost mandatory thyme popovers. All washed down with a glass of Ontario Pinot Gris.

My contribution made its debut later in the evening, after the plates had been scraped clean and all in attendance had pushed their chairs back from the table to assume the standard semi-reclined digestion position. In a post-turkey haze, we had to dig deep, stave off the lure of sleep and seek out every last square centimetre of stomach capacity.

Pumpkin pie is the traditional way to end a Thanksgiving meal, but a quick show of hands in any room will reveal a far from universal appreciation of this spiced dessert. Noting the abundance of apples in the backyard and the Abbott family's predilection for pie, I settled on a sour cream apple pie with an oatmeal crumb topping as the closing number for Thanksgiving 2007.*

Part custard, part apple crisp and all pie, this crowd-pleasing take on a North American classic steers clear of unpopular raisins and nuts and is sure to combat mounting apple fatigue.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Filling:
8 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Prepare your favourite pie crust or choose a 9-inch crust from the freezer section of your local grocery store. No judgment here given that I went with the latter option this Thanksgiving.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the pie filling, beat the egg in a large bowl. Stir in the sour cream, sugar, flour, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Add the sliced apples and stir to coat. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust, heaping the apples to a peak in the centre. Bake for 10 minutes.

With the pie still inside the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue baking until the filling is puffed and golden and apples are relatively tender when poked with a fork (about 40 minutes).

In the meantime, make the crumble topping. Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. Blend in butter until the mixture is crumbly.

Remove the pie from the oven and spoon the topping onto the cooked apple custard. Press lightly with fingertips to keep in place. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until topping is golden.

*And, just because my decadence knows no boundaries, I also made a chocolate caramel pecan tart in honour of our stay in France.

Notes: Tart apples are a must given the abundance of sweet crumble topping. Serve warm or re-heated in the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of gingered whipped cream. Cold slivers straight from the fridge have their time and place too, just ask my father-in-law. *wink*

Source: Inspired by this recipe on Epicurious, originally published in Bon App├ętit in August 1981.

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