This morning I made an apple pie. Since it's that season, I figured the recipe might be of interest to a few people, so here's how I do it.
First, you should know that in an apple pie I'm looking for a very spicy, flavorful filling and for apples that aren't smushy and for an interior product that does not slop around once the pie is cut. If you like apple pie to taste like pure apple, this is not for you. Ditto apple pie soup.
For the streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter (soft-ish. I cut it into little chunks)
For the pie:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon, nutmeg
1/8 teaspoons ginger, allspice (but let's be real: I add however much I like, which is usually a lot of cinnamon, some allspice, and a quarter of a nutmeg grated in my microplane grater. I don't add ginger because Charles doesn't like it)
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 Tablespoons orange juice
7 or 8 apples, peeled, cored, sliced (I use a crunchy, sweet apple, not a tart apple. We prefer Fuji, but I've also used braeburns. Down with the Granny Smith apple.)
1 pastry shell (do what you want. I buy Pillsbury, although after the third iteration of their crust not un-rolling, I'm starting to get pissed)
Make the streusel by mixing the ingredients. Rub the butter in with your fingers. Add some cinnamon if you like. I do, because you can't have enough cinnamon. This will make a gross kind of paste. Wipe your hands off and set it aside.
Put your pastry into your pie pan. I like a Pyrex pie pan, partly because I can see inside and partly because it was a gift from my father-in-law many years ago and it's insanely useful.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. (yes, 425. Hot.)
Take out your big, heavy skillet. Heat it to medium (set on stove, turn on heat, wait 3 or 4 minutes). Then add everything on the list up to the apples. That would be: sugars, flour, spices, orange zest and juice. Let it melt/dissolve (it sort of does both, since some dissolves into the liquid and as the mixture heats some melts). Once it's looking like a yummy, spicy, caramel-y sauce (like 2 minutes, max), add the apple slices (no, I didn't toss them with lemon juice. They're going to be coated in brown caramel so if they brown a little no one will know). Stir it all up so that the sauce is thickening and the apple slices are coated.
Transfer all that goo into the pie dish. Cover the top with the streusel. It won't seem like enough, but just distribute it around as best you can. Don't worry that it doesn't cover the top. I said relax.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. If you have a crust-cover thingy, put it on after 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and bake another 40-50 minutes. Check it and see how brown the top is. If you think it looks taste, take it out. Let it cool before you cut into it, both because this will help the sauce thicken more and because you'll burn your fool mouth.
NB: this recipe is intended to solve 2 problems:
1. The fact that apple pie is often kind of bland. This recipe uses a lot of spice. The whole idea is that the pie will taste sweeter and more exotic than applesauce. So you can add or subtract spice as you like. I often add more, if it's just for us or if we're eating vanilla ice cream with it. I've occasionally added less and made cinnamon ice cream. Obviously, if you like ginger, go crazy. You could also try something like cardamom.
Finally, you can buy things like cinnamon from Penzey's in bulk. Buying in bulk means the spice comes in a plastic bag (not a jar) and you're paying mostly for the product, not the container. When you buy cinnamon in quantities like 6 ounces, you can use more without worrying about it.
2. I hate it when apple-pie filling slumps into the middle of the pan after you cut out a piece. If you like that, you'll find this recipe too gooey/solid. The point of sauteeing the filling first is to start the thickening process (the thickener is the 2T of AP flour) so that by the time the pie is baking, the filling is already thick.
Thus, the streusel top is dual-purpose. It adds sugar and spice, but it also leaves holes through which water can evaporate. With a pie-crust top you'll keep a lot of moisture in, which will mean a wetter pie. I want the liquid to bubble and bubble as it bakes, so that by the end it's concentrated. Hence, streusel.
[EDIT: do not put foil on the top until the pie is *completely* cooled, or your streusel will turn into yucky goo. Take it from me.]