When October comes, the (un)official season for the baking of all things most delicious is upon us. As a 23 year old baker, I have not amassed an impressive collection of recipes, but I am inventive. My family was not the type to pass generational recipes down to their daughters, though I haven’t let that stand in my way. I typically invent my own recipes or adapt recipes that I enjoy by bakers and cooks that I admire. This particular recipe came out of the clear blue autumn sky and dropped on my head like a leaf. It’s sort of silly, but I was thinking about the fact that I’ve seen pumpkin pie and I’ve seen apple pie, but I have literally never seen a compilation of the two.
Given the fact that pumpkins have a lovely, silky texture when roasted or sautéed, I couldn’t think of a logical reason why I shouldn’t attempt to slice a pumpkin and toss it with the raw apples. I also toyed with the idea of making a pumpkin custard with cream, eggs and canned pumpkin puree and spices, gently ladled into a graham crumb crust; caramelized apples laid over the top in the manner of a tart and I decided against it…although, as I’m typing it, I’m not at all sure why, and I am now at least 60% convinced that in the near future, such a recipe will make an appearance. Because October. For now, what we’ve got are slices of peeled pumpkin and peeled apple, heavily spiced, appearing above an oat crust and tucked under a blanket of streusel.
I love streusel for many reasons, but I bake with it almost exclusively in Autumn. The reason for this is that it reminds me of fallen leaves. It’s a light, not solid, covering over the ground of prepared fruit, and it is many textures and even colors. In this way, it is like a recreation of the scene I see before me when I walk in the park. The addition of oats is always welcome, and in this recipe they add a familiar tastiness to the crunch and play well with the spices. The apples and pumpkins are tossed with what is essentially pumpkin pie spice, though I like to make my own blend so I can control the balance of flavors. I added saffron for an unusual sharpness, and it is a good accompaniment for ginger and cinnamon…I anticipated that it would add a bit of edginess and an “eastern” flair to the pie…that blend is typically found in Indian cuisine. The crust is flaky, buttery, pie-y. The result of all this is an invigoratingly spiced pie with just the right amount of crunch and a unique earthy sweetness. Perfect for an October afternoon.
Pumpkin Apple Pie with Spiced Oat Streusel
Equipment: an 8″ by 4″ baking dish, 4″ deep
Preheat oven to 400º
2 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur, which I always use, but mostly because I like the packaging design)
1 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp coarse kosher salt (I prefer diamond, but I used Morton because it’s what I had on hand)
1 C cold unsalted sweet cream butter, (preferably irish because the flavor is infinitely superior) cut into small cubes
5 T ice water
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers to blend until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (leaving the mixture slightly inconsistent with a few large butter chunks results in a flakier dough). Add the cold water, discarding the pieces of ice. Blend gently with your fingers just until the dough begins to gather. Gently pull it into a cohesive mass (it will look a little dry at first. If there is a lot of “sandy mixture” at the bottom of the bowl, add another teaspoon of water and gently incorporate) and pat it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Approximately 3 lbs. of Macintosh or other baking apple, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4″ thick
2 small pumpkins, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/4″ slices
1/2 packed brown sugar
3 T unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger, allspice, nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch crushed saffron fronds
generous pinch coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
Filling: place the slices of pumpkin and apple in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and all of the spices. Stir until fully combined. Toss with the fruit. Add to the fruit the melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir until evenly coated. Allow this mixture to marinate and meld and marry while you make the streusel topping and roll out the crust.
3/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger
7 T butter, cut in small cubes
1/2 C old fashioned oats
Combine all ingredients, excluding the oats like you excluded your mortal enemy from your high school lunch table. Blend well with your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles wet sand. At this point, give the oats a chance for once and once you find out they’re not so bad, thoroughly assimilate them with the rest of the group.
Grand Master Assembly of the Pie:
Remove the crust from the refrigerator. If it has chilled for longer than 30 minutes, it might need a little bit of time to warm up to the idea of being rolled out. Start with 10 minutes. When the dough is pliable but not soft, roll it out on a sheet of parchment paper, lightly sprinkling flour over the top. When it is about 1/4″ thick and 2-3″ larger than the dish on all sides, lay the dough inside the dish, pressing into the corners. Leave an excess of 1/4″ all around the edges. Remove any further excess of dough. Crimp or adorn the edge with your favorite method. Add the filling to the dough. It should be heaped up in the middle, slightly mounded, because it will shrink while it bakes. Place the dish on a sheet tray to catch any drips. Sprinkle the streusel in as even a layer as you can get it, spreading it lightly with your hand when it’s all added if necessary, but do not pack it down by any means. Bake for 20 minutes, lower the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F, and continue baking until the apples and pumpkin are soft when pierced with a paring knife, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Allow to cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Ginger ice cream would be a lovely accompaniment.