Why is pie synonymous with Thanksgiving? I have yet to make that connection, but I've eaten pie every mid-October for as long as I can remember and I'm mighty thankful for that.
Perhaps it is because the holiday falls right in the middle of apple and pumpkin season and who wants to be baking anything else than gorgeous pies with that fresh, affordable produce?
This has been the most beautiful autumn I can remember. The weekends have been sunny and warm and we've been lucky enough to get out and do plenty of our favorite fall activities such as apple picking (twice!), pumpkin harvesting and getting lost in a corn labyrinth.
I made a lot of pies as a kid. My siblings and I would earn spare cash over the summer by holding a stall at the local farmers market. My mother would sell her bedding plants--fragrant herbs, perky tomatoes and broad-leafed cucumbers; my brother usually had to find a home for a litter of bunnies or young goat, but my older sister and I baked. Apple, strawberry and rhubarb pies, butter tarts, cinnamon buns, bagels and anything else we figured would sell. Those were some lucky customers we supplied; boy we should have charged double!
Those pie-making skills certainly rubbed off on my youngest sister, who brought this towering Spiced Apple Streusel Pie to our Thanksgiving dinner. While Miranda's true passion is for animals and animal care, she also knows her way around the kitchen, as this gravity-defying deep dish pie demonstrated. I mean, just look at those apples, they are stacked four high! No slouchy sunken apple pie for her.
I knew you had to have this recipe. I've already made it again since Thanksgiving and it's only been a week!
Spiced Streusel Apple Pie
for streusel topping:
2/3 cup pecans
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup granola
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
for filling: 2 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Flaky Pie Crust, prepared and chilled
For streusel: Combine pecans, brown sugar, granola, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in processor. Using on/off turns, process until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and process until small moist clumps form. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
For filling: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Toss apples with sour cream in large bowl to coat. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss to coat. Transfer filling to prepared crust. Sprinkle streusel over apples, covering completely. Bake pie until apples are tender and streusel is golden, tenting pie with foil if streusel browns too quickly, about 1 hour. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool slightly. Serve pie slightly warm or at room temperature.
Keeping things seasonal, my awesome sister-in-law, Melanie, seduced us all with the other dessert of the night: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce.
I swear, we had this bread pudding and the apple pie keeping warm in the oven while we digested our dinner, and when I opened the oven door to take a peek it smelt so good my knees nearly buckled. The combination of apple and pumpkin with all the spices was just too good to be true. If only there was a scented candle that smelled so sweet!
Last fall I created the memorable Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Rummy Raisins and Mel's version only confirmed that I love, love bread pudding. It's a great do-ahead dessert, the flavors only improve over time, and it's actually a brilliant dessert to bring to a pot-luck--nothing is going so squish, spill or crack.
I had suggested we whip some cream to top of both the pie and the pudding, but that was deemed to be 'overdoing it' and the idea was shot down. (I know, I know, who runs the kitchen anyway, right?)
However, it turns out the toffee sauce was really all I needed, and no one noticed that I splashed a little onto my pie as well.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce
5 cups cubed day-old bread, (crusts left on or removed)
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin (no spices added)
1 1/2 cups half & half, milk, light cream or a combination thereof
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the center of the oven. You will need an 8 inch square baking dish.
Custard: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, half and half, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, spices and salt. Add the bread cubes and raisins and toss to coat, making sure all the bread cubes are coated with the custard.
Transfer the bread pudding to the ungreased pan and bake for about 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Served warm with toffee sauce.
Place the butter, sugar, and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. You can make this sauce in advance and simply reheat.
Makes an 8x8 inch bread pudding (serves 6 people)
I hope you've gotten some inspiration from this little Thanksgiving series. It's been fun!
Missed the rest of the meal?
Thanksgiving Part 1: Turkey & Co
Thanksgiving Part 2: Side Dishes