Adventures in the Family Cookbook: Classic Apple Crumb Pie


Between Pinterest and the hundred-or-so food blogs I follow, I rarely pick up a cookbook these days, despite the fact that I have a shelf full.  But the other day I got a craving for a classic apple pie.  Just as I was firing up my laptop to consider recipes, my eyes lit upon my grandmother's battered copy of our family cookbook, “Cooking With the Carvers”.

As I pulled the book down, several of my grandma's handwritten recipes fluttered out.  Broccoli casserole, key lime pie—neither sounded bad, but they weren't quite what I was looking for.  I thumbed back to the “In the Pie Cupboard” chapter.

“Mmmm....” I let out an audible noise as I found it—Apple Crumb Pie.  Just your basic apples and cinnamon, covered with a crumble topping.  Sold.

I flipped to the next page and found a plethora of crust recipes to go along with my pie.  My grandmother had clearly marked “Pie Crust No. 1” as her favorite, but I was intrigued by the recipe submitted by James V. Carver.  This cookbook was put together well before Food Network made it cool for men to bake so—although I'm not sure if I ever would have even had a chance to meet James V.—I liked him already.  I decided to give his crust a chance.

And I was not disappointed.  If you're looking for exotic spices and modern combos, head for Pinterest, but if you want apple pie like your grandma used to make, here's your recipe.

Apple Crumb Pie


For the filling:

  • 6 pie apples
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crumble topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • ¾ cup flour

One pie shell (recipe below)


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Core and slice the apples and put them into the pie shell. Mix ½ cup sugar and the cinnamon, and sprinkle over the apples, tossing them together gently with your hands.

Cut the flour, butter and remaining ½ cup sugar together until crumbly, and sprinkle over the top of the apples.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until done.

Pie Shell (makes 2 pie shells)

(Note: I've modernized this recipe just a little by using a food processor, which I think faster.  Feel free to use a pastry blender or a pair of knives to cut the butter in if you want to make your pie truly old-school.)


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold butter (or shortening)
  • about 5 tablespoons cold water


Whiz together the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Cube the butter and toss it in, too, pulsing the processor several times until you have crumbles about the size of peas.  Sprinkle in the water as you continue to pulse, using only enough to bring the pastry together.

Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface and fit it into a pie pan, being careful not to stretch the dough.  Use as needed for pie recipes.