What will my kids remember when I’m gone?
As a parent, you make incredible sacrifices for your children, especially in the beginning years. The years of no sleep. The years of budget planning. The years of homemade snacks. You do whatever it takes to provide a safe and loving home. Yet I can’t help but wonder- will the memories stick? The big things? The little things? Anything?
My biggest fear is that it will all disappear. Unless it’s preserved…
That calls for tradition.
According to Webster’s dictionary, there are several variations of the definition.
I liked this one:
“The handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.”
So… that means we can’t have hamburgers and fries for Thanksgiving?
Our traditional menu includes: turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes (least favorite job) a giant antipasti platter and many other recipes that have been in our family for years. Even the gravy. Everyone brings a dish and that’s part of the fun.
But recently, I had a strange realization. One that suddenly emerged after 19 years…
Apple crumble pie!
Allow me to explain: My grandmother was famous for dessert. Specifically, her cherry cobbler (technically a crumble- but that’s what she called it). It was expected at every holiday. Sometimes she’d use apples or jam instead for the filling. I knew exactly how she made it, without a recipe, because I studied her every move as a little kid. When she passed away, I happily took on the role of baking her scrumptious cherry cobbler.
But what about the apple version?
Almost 2 decades have gone by and I’ve never made it. Not once.
So, in the spirit of holiday tradition, I’m bringing back the apple crumble pie.
The entire dough is made by hand. First, rub the butter and flour together in a large bowl. The heat from your hands will incorporate the cold butter into the mix. The egg yolks and sugar are whisked separately and then poured over the top. To combine, get in there with your hands and gently work everything together.
Here’s the best part- the dough is a two-for-one deal! It doubles as both the crust and crumble topping. Simply press half the amount into a tart pan and reserve the rest to sprinkle over the apples.
Tip: the dough should be slightly dry and crumbly. It will only come together when you squeeze it in the palm of your hand. This is key, as it ensures the proper texture of the crust. It tastes like a buttery shortbread cookie.
Traditional apple pie is made with Granny Smith apples. They’re tart, sweet and hold up well when baked. I used a combination of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, because that’s what I happened to have on hand.
The filling is best described as ‘cinnamon kissed’. I prefer it this way, on the light side, so you can really taste the crust without being overwhelmed. The crust is the best part if you ask me!
Tip: prepare the apple filling before the dough. The sugar and lemon juice will draw out the liquid in the apples. This way the slices will stay together when cut.
Naturally, my fondest childhood memories revolve around food. But who knows what my kids will remember. Maybe it will have nothing to do with food at all (heartbreak). I can only hope that they continue the legacy in a way that’s memorable to them. Because without looking back, how can we go forward?
With that said- this recipe is for my grandmother. A talented, wise woman beyond her years. I’m thinking of her this Thanksgiving. Because she is what I remember.
What are your family holiday traditions?
- 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped into ½ inch chunks
- ½ c. sugar
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 heaped tbsp. flour
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon**
- 3 c. sifted flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 egg yolks
- ¾ c. sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Coat the tart pan in cooking spray or use butter wrappers, getting in between all of the grooves.
- To prepare the filling, place the cut and peeled apples into a large bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice, flour, and cinnamon. Toss well and set aside.
- For the dough, place the sifted flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the cubed butter. Rub the butter and flour together using your fingertips until the mixture is very crumbly and resembles the size of small peas. The heat from your hands will incorporate the butter into the mix.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl. Pour over the flour mixture.
- Mix the dough with your hands. It is ready when it looks dry and crumbly, but sticks together when you squeeze it in the palm of your hands.
- Using a 1 cup measure, portion half of the dough into the tart pan. Press gently up the sides and around the pan until you have formed a base.
- Add the apples.
- Top the apples with the rest of the dough, squeezing gently to create crumbles.
- Bake in the center of the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool for 30 minutes.
- To remove from the pan, place the pie onto of a small (inverted) mixing bowl. Slide the fluted ring down to remove. You will be left with the whole pie ready to be sliced.