I know why you don’t make this.
That’s what my sister said when we had just put the finishing touches on a fresh fruit trifle this summer.
It’s too messy for you, she said.
Too messy? What the? I started in on how I had sawed the leg off of a 300-pound pig in culinary school, how I love to get my hands into a big mess of dough. How I this and how I that.
She didn’t buy any of it. You like precision, she said. You like things neatly arranged and, frankly, perfect.
I just love having siblings, a sister especially. One can learn so much about oneself, don’t you think?
It’s like your hair, she said. You have curly hair, but you feel like you can’t control it that way, so you straighten it.
Okay. True. I do love a good boar-bristle brush.
I suppose it was the way I kept describing our bowls of trifle as delicious . . . despite how homely it all looked. Homely may have been a strong word; Peg seemed offended. The trifle tasted very, very good.
I was on a plane recently with Dan and paging through one of my food magazines. He saw a photo of apple crumble, a cobbler scooped into bowls with spiced ice cream melting over the top. I thought he was sleeping until I heard: Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.
Even though I promised to make exactly that dessert when we got home, I knew it wouldn’t be a crumble or a cobbler. I do have a cobbler recipe I love, but I still, I knew this was going to be a pie. I hadn’t rolled a crust since summer (a long time around here). The urge to crimp edges could not be ignored.
Besides, this seemed the best way to usher in apple season. I have a strict rule about apples—a coalition more than a rule: No Apples In Summer. The juicy-fruit bearing season up here is just too short to make room for a crisp apple until the others are spent.
So maybe I do take certain inclinations a little far.
How about this: Feel free–even though I clearly don’t feel free–to turn our Dutch apple pie into a cobbler by leaving off the bottom crust. But do (here I go again) leave in the rosewater. I have found it’s the perfect way to pull out even more apple flavor. And you know how I feel about perfect.
Dutch Apple Pie with Rosewater
Use a combination of apples to get both tartness and sweetness into the pie. I always use a couple of Granny Smith, mixed with Gala, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, or Macintosh. Read more about My Mom’s Best Pie Crust here.
For the filling:
6 cups peeled, sliced apples (from 6 – 8 apples of different varieties)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of half of a lemon
2 teaspoons rosewater
For the crust:
1 ¾ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 1 teaspoon vegetable, canola, or other neutral oil
4 tablespoons ice water
For the streusel:
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Position a rack in the center of the oven and place a piece of foil on the bottom of the oven to catch any drips.
In a medium bowl, combine the apples with the flour, sugar, lemon juice, and rose water.
In another medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Slowly stir in the oil with a spoon until pea-sized crumbs form. Stir in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time. On a damp work surface, roll out half of the dough between two sheets of waxed paper to a circle 2 inches larger than a 10-inch pie plate. Remove the top sheet of paper and invert the crust, still on the other sheet of waxed paper, over the pie plate. Ease the dough down into the plate and slowly peel the paper off. Tuck the overhang of dough under the edge of the crust to form a thick edge. If there are thin areas, cut some of the overhang from elsewhere and tuck it under the thin spot to make it thicker. Crimp the edge decoratively.
Pour the sugared apples into the crust.
Make the streusel topping by combining the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the butter in with your fingers, then add the walnuts. Press the mixture into small clumps and top the pie with the streusel.
Cover the edges of the pie with a pie guard or pieces of foil, crunching the foil well so it stays in place. Lay another piece of foil lightly over the top of the pie to prevent the streusel from browning too much before the pie is done.
Bake the pie for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, removing the foil from the top toward the end of the baking time if the streusel needs more browning. The apples should be bubbling vigorously for the last 15 minutes or so of baking time. Remove the pie from the oven and cool for at least 4 hours so that the filling sets up. The pie will keep on the kitchen counter for a couple of days, loosely covered with waxed paper or foil.