crust + crumble apple pie

crust + crumble apple pie |

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…

crust + crumble apple pie |

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…

crust + crumble apple pie |

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.

crust + crumble apple pie |

The Dough

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.

crust + crumble apple pie | theclevercarrot.comcrust + crumble apple pie |

The Filling

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.

crust + crumble apple pie | theclevercarrot.comcrust + crumble apple pie |

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?

crust + crumble apple pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8 slices
  • 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
*You will need a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. If you prefer to bake in a glass pie dish, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. and adjust the baking time accordingly. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil and/or reduce the oven temperature.
**This recipe is light on the cinnamon. If you prefer a stronger taste, add up to 1 teaspoon.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Coat the tart pan in cooking spray or use butter wrappers, getting in between all of the grooves.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl. Pour over the flour mixture.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the apples.
  8. Top the apples with the rest of the dough, squeezing gently to create crumbles.
  9. Bake in the center of the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Cool for 30 minutes.
  11. 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.

crust + crumble apple pie |


  1. says

    I love this! It sounds so simple,and I bet it is delicious. And don’t you worry. I am sure your kids will remember it all, and pass it on to their kids.

    • Emilie says

      Adri, now that I’m looking at the pictures again this pie reminds me of the giant Italian crumble cookie. My mind is drawing a blank- what is the name again? I love that dessert. This recipe is simple, especially since the crust and crumble is made from 1 dough. You can even vary the filling to make it your own. :)

  2. says

    This looks divine! What a great addition to your traditions! By the way, you’d be surprised how much kids remember. Just last night my 17 year old reminded me of something sweet from his childhood that I had long forgotten. They are little sponges and it’s our job to fill the sponge with happy memories.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Celia! Thank you! You’re right, kids really are little sponges. Their memories are incredibly sharp. Mine went right out the window after I had kids! But the moment you shared with your son is a sweet reminder that something, somewhere, sinks in. Cheers to you mom! :) xx

    • Emilie says

      Chichi, if you like apple pie this is a great version with a twist. The crust is easy to make and the filling is subtle, yet simple. The crumbs on top are the best part! Thank you! :)

  3. says

    wow, this dessert does sound incredible and one that your boys are not likely to forget anytime soon mom. How neat that the dough works as both a smooth crust and crumble – a twofer! Love that you studied your grandma’s every move as a child… was this your French grandmother? Have a beautiful Thanksgiving celebration Emilie. I think I will take next week off from blogging and just enjoy with the boys. Cheers.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Kelly! Yes, this recipe was my grandmother’s who was French. She was an amazing cook. In fact, she owned and operated a bistro in Paris with her mom before coming to the states. Everything she made was spot on. I was in awe of her talent even as a little kid. I’d do anything to turn back the clock and have a day in the kitchen with her :) I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family as well (can you do 2 now?). Enjoy the downtime! xx

  4. says

    This apple crumble is beautiful, as is the story that inspired it. Sometimes it takes years to appreciate and implement traditions. This is a delicious implementation. Thank you for sharing your story and your Grandmother’s recipe. Beautiful!

    • Emilie says

      Traci, it only took me 19 years! How’s that for timing? Better late than never I guess. I’ll take inspiration any which way it comes! x

  5. says

    I love this Emilie. The sentiment, the pie, the crumble, the tradition… everything. You are entirely right, not everything sticks in terms of formed memories. But I do think that the ‘heart association’ will always remain – that warm attachment, the feeling of being loved, the acknowledgement of the sacrifices that your parent made for you. That’s how I feel, anyway. I don’t remember all of the times spent with my mother over the years but she’s deeply placed in my heart. The older that I get, the more that I realize that she put herself aside so that I could grow, develop and thrive. If I could do half of the job that she did, I’d be doing well. Sending you holiday love – you are doing an AMAZING job as a mother and I know that your boys will grow up loving the traditions that you’ve established in their hearts and lives.
    And as for your grandmother’s cherry cobbler (crumble)? I love the fact that you picked up the baton. This apple pie version is a beautiful, warming and delicious twist on the original xxx <3

    • Emilie says

      You are so incredibly sweet, Laura. The heart association- that’s exactly it. As you mentioned, this becomes more of a realization when you get older and remembering that ‘place’ is so very special. For me, that’s what it’s all about. Remembering, feeling, and keeping it all alive in a way that’s impressionable. Thank you always for your thoughtful, heartfelt words. You are a dear friend :) xoxo

    • Emilie says

      Thank you Julie! It’s very interesting because for the past month, I’ve had conversations with friends and family about a modern vs. traditional Thanksgiving. Everyone wants tradition! That once-a-year meal needs to be on the table. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday filled with delicious memories! Your boys are adorable :) xx

  6. says

    Food memories are the best kind because they’re always happy ones! And sounds like you have some wonderful ones. Don’t worry about the kids, they’ll always remember what you made – how could they not?? Am loving this recipe – just printed it out for Thanksgiving…

    • Emilie says

      I agree- food memories are the best! Who knows about my kids… they better remember my muffins and homemade bread that’s for sure! If you have any questions about this recipe please let me know. It’s not cinnamon-y as per a traditional apple pie recipe- I’m not sure why I feel the need to explain this, but whatever. The flavor of the crust paired with delicate apples is what it’s all about! Enjoy :) xo

  7. says

    That looks absolutely delicious! I too wonder what my kids will remember about growing up – I hope it’s all good things. And I don’t mean at all to mess with tradition, but I have seen a version of a similar crumble topping where the dough is frozen first and then grated on top – I think that’s how Julia Childs did it – might make handling just a little bit easier? :)

    • Emilie says

      Thank you darling! Yes! I’ve seen the freeze, grate & crumble method via Jamie Oliver. You don’t have to do that with this dough because the technique is all in rubbing it together with your hands. It turns to ‘sand’ and is very easy to press into the tin. The technique also creates the most crumbliest (is that a word?) texture similar to Scottish shortbread. But now of course, you’ve got me thinking and I’m sure this would freeze very well. I bet we could bake cookies too… xo

  8. says

    This is really sweet, Emilie. I have always felt so compelled to learn my family’s recipes and can remember as a teenager begging my mother to teach me how she made her apple crumble pie. She, too, knew her recipe by heart and would just go by look and feel. Isn’t it special to learn their techniques?

    I don’t have children yet, but I too hope that they have fond memories around our food traditions! When I think back on my own childhood, I realize how much food really played a part. I think when it’s important in a family that you can’t help but have memories that relate to favourite meals (so I bet your kids will remember that too!)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Christine, it really is special to learn the techniques of loved ones. As a kid, I think you’re completely oblivious. Because you’re a kid. You get caught up in the moment, think your grandparents are immortal, and just go with the flow. Until one day everything’s gone (I’m starting to sound morbid now but you get what I mean…) Isn’t it funny how food plays such an impressionable role in childhood memories? I think that’s so cool. xo

    • Emilie says

      Mmm… that sounds like a delicious idea! Although there’s no fluffy cake component to this, you’ve intrigued me. Best of both worlds in one dessert! I love how you think ;)

  9. jo says

    i baked your recipe few days ago, the top didnt turn golden brown after 50 min and i left it in there for an hour. I love the taste of the pie but my family finds the crusts to be hard after freezing.. Did i over baked? I really love it and would like to try baking it again and again.. thank you for sharing such amazing recipe.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Jo!

      I’m happy to help troubleshoot:

      1.) Did you bake the pie from frozen?

      I’ve never done this before, so I cannot advise based on personal experience. But it sounds like it was over baked.

      Next time, try making it fresh. Use an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is exactly 375 F. Bake on the center rack. If you follow these steps the pie usually begins to brown within the first 20 minutes.

      2.) With regards to the crust- it was either over baked and/or over mixed. Combine the dough with your hands until crumbly. It should only stick together when you squeeze it in the palm of your hands. This result is a light and crumbly texture.

      Good luck, Jo! I hope this helps :)

      • jo says

        Hi Emilie,
        You are super cool for taking this effort to reply to me in such great length… i didnt bake the pie frozen.. but i do use a convection oven. i usually have to reduce the temperature required when baking. i baked this pie at 170 for 45 min and increased another 15 minutes when it didnt turn golden brown… :(

        I felt i must have put in too thick a crust and left with very little for the topping..

        This was my first apple pie, always wanted to bake one until i found your recipe. I really love it.

        Thanks again, you are amazing

        • Emilie says

          Hi Jo!

          Yes, the low temperature of the convection oven was most likely the culprit. Do you have the option to bake with without it? My oven can switch back and forth. Either way, if the heat is too low, the crust won’t brown.

          I hope this helps! if you have any other questions, please let me know! :)

          • jo says

            Hi Emilie,
            Happy holidays…How are you? I am excited to tell you that i did bake the pie again (and again).. I really love it and Dutch friend tasted it and told me it almost brought tears to his house remembering the apple crumble his mom used to make when he was young.. and not much people bake such a pie here in Singapore… on the other hand alot of my other Singapore friends find it a tard too sour for them.. but I LOVE IT..

          • Emilie says

            Jo! I just read your comment and I have a HUGE smile on my face- so glad the pie was successful again (and again!). Nothing can compare with childhood food memories :)

            Now that you have the technique down, you can change the filling as you wish. If your friends prefer it a bit sweeter, just add more sugar. Or, you can saute the apples in butter and sugar first, perhaps adding some cinnamon to switch it up. In the summer months, this is very nice with peaches and cherries, respectively.

            Thanks so much for coming back to share your story! I really appreciate it. Happy New year to you! xo

  10. says

    Happy Thanksgiving, Emilie! I am really excited to try out this recipe. I also have a recipe for apple pie that was handed down from my grandmother; however, I am intrigued by the crumbly top on yours! It’s a perfect combination of an apple crisp and a deep dish pie! I am visiting my family down in Florida for the week, and we had a rather traditional Thanksgiving spread, except for the dessert. My mom made a cast iron skillet brownie that was amazing, but I am still thinking about PIE! When I get home, I will have to attempt this one. I hope you enjoyed your holiday and have a sane and happy December! XO

  11. jo says

    Hi Emilie,
    Thank you for the tips. I would definitely try doing what you said.
    I love pumpkins and would love to use pumpkins for this recipe of yours… how should i prepare the pumpkins? Cheers. Jo

    • Emilie says

      Hi Jo!

      Basically, you’ll need a pumpkin puree for the filling. You can purchase this plain or make your own. Here’s the link to my recipe.

      If you want the puree to taste similar to pumpkin pie, you have to add sugar, eggs and spices. I don’t have exact amounts because I’ve never done it before! But if you search around online you’ll find many recipes for ‘pumpkin pie filling.’ Experiment to suit your tastebuds ;)

  12. jo says

    Hi Emilie,
    How are you doing? Been a while since I last wrote to you. I am still baking your amazing apple crumble pie and would love to try using pears. Could I use the same recipe and can I use canned pears? Do I follow the rest of the recipe?

    Thank you and Cheers,

    • Emilie says

      Hi Joanna,

      I’m doing well thank you! How are you? Canned pears would also work- drain the juice before using and if they’re sweetened you might want to reduce the sugar in my original recipe. You don’t want it to be too sweet ;) Good luck and let me know how it comes out! xo

      • jo says

        Hi Emilie, im doing ok. just recovering from a nasty accident and only have use of one hand for last 3 months but im getting better now and hope to bake more.

        For the pear crumble pie, does it work exactly the same like your apple crumble? I have not seen any pear crumble pie before here.. but i love your crumble pie and would like to try using pear.


        • Emilie says

          Hi Jo,

          So sorry to hear that you’ve been unwell. I hope you are doing okay :)

          The pear crumble works exactly the same as the original. Just drain the can and use the fruit only for the recipe.

          Feel better xo

  13. roberta whitehurst says

    I just made this for our Thanksgiving& I must tell you it is delicious! I adore it & think I will ‘accidentally’ leave it home.
    Thank you so very much for sharing!!
    Roberta, VA

  14. Jen says

    Hi Emilie,

    My 6yo daughter wanted to make apple pie and we used your recipe. We really had a great time making it.. She especially enjoyed “massaging” the flour and butter. Happy to say that the pie turned out really good! We added rolled oats and walnuts for texture..

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this recipe.. Me and y daughter will definjtely make this again this hoiday season… xoxo

    • Emilie says

      Hi Jen! Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I love that your daughter enjoyed the process! We love making this recipe too (I have too young boys). I make a cherry version too ;) Enjoy!

  15. Sue V. says

    One million thanks for this delicious variation on an apple tart that popped up on a search I was doing yesterday. Loved the shortbread crust idea, but all I had was an 11 inch tart pan and not enough apples but plenty of quart sized homemade Apple pie filling I had canned last month in which I use 3 different types of apples. It was delicious and everyone loved it, the pan size worked as your recipe is generous with crust/topping ingredients, the homemade pie filling also worked perfect, now I hope I made enough because I would not change a thing. Many thanks again for clear instructions and beautiful photos and an excellent recipe and I am looking forward to trying several other of your recipes. I will visit you sight often, Happy Holidays.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Sue! This recipe is a family classic! Everyone goes crazy for it when I make it. I think it’s the special shortbread crust ;) And I love how you were able to make it work with the ingredients you had on hand. You know, if you like cherries, cherry pie filling can also be substituted in the recipe. My Grandmother used to make it that way! Happy Holidays to you too! x

      • Sue V says

        It just so happens I canned a ton of cherry pie filling this summer, so much better than grocery store stuff. I am definitely making this and thanks for the idea, I was wondering what I was going to do with 12 cans of it. My grandson wants to know if there any way I can send him the apple one when he is in college next year, that’s how much he loved it. I have to say this is the best recipe I have found in a long time, you are one talented cook. I still can’t get over that crust, fabulous!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Delores,

      I haven’t tested this myself so I’m unsure. Depending on the size of your smaller pans, perhaps you could just makes one dough and divide it in half? With baking recipes, when you start changing the quantities, sometimes it changes the whole recipe. Hope this helps!

  16. Delores Cunningham says

    Also instead of 3/4 of sugar what about 1/2 or double for two small pies and what about 1/2 each of butter.

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