Who needs a top crust after the Thanksgiving feast? We got the idea for this open-face, crumb-topped pie from Ken Haedrich's book "Apple Pie Perfect" (The Harvard Common Press, $19.95), but we made a number of changes in it. Use a combination of tart and sweet apples, if possible, but if you only have one kind, adjust sugar accordingly.
6 or 7 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced (we used 1 or 2 each of MacIntosh, Red Rome, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith)
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar (or a little more, if apples are tart)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For crumb topping:
1 cup pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cut (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1. If making your own pastry for the pie), prepare it and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
2. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll pastry into a 131/2-inch circle, using a floured rolling pin. Invert pastry over a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Center it, then peel off the paper. Gently tuck pastry into the pan without stretching it, and crimp the edges. Place pie shell in freezer for at least 30 minutes.
3. To make filling, mix apples, cranberries, sugar and lemon juice together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees. Preheat a large, dark baking sheet covered with foil at the same time. (This will make the bottom crust of the pie more crisp.)
4. Add orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour to the filling mixture and mix lightly. Turn filling into the frozen pie shell. Smooth the filling with your hands to even it out. Place pie on the baking sheet that has been heating in the oven. Bake 35 minutes. (If edges begin to brown too much, cover them with foil.)
5. While the pie bakes, prepare crumb topping. Put walnuts and sugars in a food processor; pulse briefly to grind nuts. Add flour and salt; pulse again. Remove lid and scatter the butter over the dry ingredients. Pulse machine repeatedly, until mixture resembles medium-fine crumbs. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and rub crumbs between your fingers to make large crumbs. (Alternatively, chop the nuts and combine everything by hand, using clean fingers.) Refrigerate until needed.
6. Remove pie from oven. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Carefully dump topping in the center of the pie, spreading crumbs evenly over the surface with your hands, and tamping down lightly. Return pie on baking sheet to oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, an additional 35 to 40 minutes. Loosely cover pie with tented aluminum foil during the last 15 to 20 minutes of baking to keep crumbs from becoming too brown. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
This recipe makes enough for one 9-inch deep-dish crust, or enough for a small double-crust pie.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup ice-cold water, or as needed
1. Put flour and salt into a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Remove lid and scatter butter over the surface. Pulse about 6 or 8 times to cut in butter. (Alternatively, use clean fingertips to "cut in" the butter). It should look like coarse crumbs or clumps about the size of split peas.
2. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add about half the water. Give mixture a few quick stirs with a fork. Add water as needed to make the mixture come together into a ball. Do not try to get by with too little water; it will cause you to overwork the dough.
3. Pat dough out into a flat disk about 6 inches wide. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll out as directed in pie recipe.
Note: This will make a little too much pie crust, but you can use any leftovers to make pie crust "cookies" - flattened balls of dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and dotted with butter, baked at 375 for 10 or 12 minutes. Or, hang bits of leftover raw dough on the trees for the birds.