November marks the beginning of pie season. One holiday after another involves some pie feature or a smorgasbord of pies. In the endless buffet line of pie dishes, apple cream streusel pie rises to the top of the pack.
German Apfelkuchen Roots
Apple cream streusel pie is Apfelkuchen with an American twist. This 25-year old recipe has German origins that go back to a Bavarian town. Frankenmuth, Michigan features a super-sized food venue that celebrates German cuisine on a grand scale. Touted as America’s largest family restaurant, with more than 983,500 meals served annually, Zehnder’s literally makes German apple pies by the ton.
From Zehnder’s Old World family recipe for real German Apple Kuchen, I made my usual dessert enhancements: a little less sugar, the addition of spiced rum and nuts. One show stopper pie with a German bite results from all the fuss. Be sure to use local apples if you have some on hand. They add a fresh woodsy taste.
Gooey But Good
Apple cream streusel pie has a homey look that makes asking for seconds all too easy. No neat servings here. Cheesecake-like crumbs will scatter everywhere with the slice of a knife. With two layers of fillings and a streusel crust nestled into a hazelnut shortbread crust, this pie requires no whipped cream or ice cream.
Begin with the Holiday in Mind
For a holiday pie, always bake the day before the big meal. Otherwise, you will find yourself tied up in the kitchen with the demands of four layers of pie.
For best results, embark on your apple cream streusel pie journey on a quiet fall or winter day. Pie baking brews kitchen chaos like no other dessert preparation. Easy as pie, never. Good enough for seconds, always.
Apple Cream Streusel Pie
Shortbread Pie Crust:1/2 cup unsalted butter 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
Cream Cheese Filling:8 ounces of cream cheese (not low fat or non-fat) 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 1 egg
Apple Filling:3 cups thinly sliced apples 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed 1/4 cup spiced rum 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Streusel Topping:1/2 cup rolled oats, old-fashioned cut 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup salted butter ½ cup pecans, raw, chopped
Shortbread Pie Crust: In a food processor, pulse just until crumbly butter, sugar, flour and hazelnuts. Press mixture into bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate. Place pie plate on a large cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 5 minutes.
Apple Filling: Meanwhile wash, peel, core and thinly slice apples. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and spiced rum. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Cream Cheese Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar and almond extract until combined. Add egg and beat until creamy. Pour in crust. Gently top cream cheese pie with apple mixture. Cover with aluminum foil, taking special care not to damage the pie layers.
Bake for 45 minutes on a large cookie sheet.
Streusel Topping: In a medium-sized bowl crumb together with a fork, oats, flour, sugar and butter. Add chopped pecans. Carefully sprinkle streusel topping over pie.
Bake on a large cookie sheet for 15 more minutes or until a thin knife comes out fairly clean. Allow to cool before serving.