Holidays: French Crumble Apple Pie

I lurve this apple pie recipe sooooo much. It is featured in the Rutherford Family Thanksgiving Dinner every year. That’s a pretty big deal considering that we are the family that voted turkey off the Thanksgiving menu. This apple pie, however, belongs in the Rutherford Hall of Fame. At one Thanksgiving in particular, I ate an entire one of these pies all by myself. I was so full, I had to wear my dad’s sweat shirts and unbutton my pants for the rest of the day, which really sucked because it was about 85 degrees outside at the time (yay! Texas weather).

You might be wondering where did this amazing, magnificent pie recipe come from? Julia Childs? Ina Garten? No, it came from Saint Nancy, a.k.a. my mom, who loves boxed wine and not cooking as much Martha Stewart loves Belgian linen and insider trading.

In all seriousness, this is my favorite thing that my mom makes and may be one of my favorite things period. Unlike your traditional apple pie that’s topped in pie crust, this bad boy is covered in a crumble topping made of sugar, flour, and butter, better known as a French Crumble topping. Needless to say, it blows all other apple pies out of the water. This recipe is for one pie, but you will definitely want to make two. One for you and one for the rest your thanksgiving guests. Just make sure to have a giant sweat shirt on hand.

Apples in all stages: Peeled, cored (I just cut the sides away from the core), and sliced.

 French Crumble Apple Pie, serves 6

  • 1 pie crust (you can use my pie crust recipe, a premade crust, or a mix)
  • (for tips on decorating a pie, check out my Pumpkin Pie Recipe)
  • 5-6 large red Delicious Apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • For the Topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter (half of a stick), cubed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • A pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1 pie crust (you can use my pie crust recipe, a premade crust, or a mix)
  • (for tips on decorating a pie, check out my Pumpkin Pie Recipe)


  • One 8” or 9” pie pan (glass, ceramic, or light colored metal will do)
  • One 9”x13” sheet pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Optional: Food Processor

The Process:

1) Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

2) Roll out your pie crust and carefully place it into your pie pan. Make sure to gently press the pie dough into the corners and up the sides of your pie pan. At this point, you can choose to decorate the edge of the pie crust. When done, place pie crust in the fridge until ready to assemble. Instructions for decorating a pie are conveniently listed here.

img_51633) Making the French Crumble Topping: In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together the salt, flour, and both of the sugars until evenly combined. Place the Cubes of cold butter into the bowl. Using your hands start to simultaneously break up the butter and mix it into the dry ingredients. You are not trying to form a dough, but, instead, you want a loose, almost sandy texture with small bits of butter sprinkled throughout. Your goal is to make yummy, sugary crumbles for the top of your pie. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, then simply blitz the butter, flour, sugars, and salt in a food processor until they form crumbs. Place your crumble topping in the fridge until ready for use.

–All of these steps can be done a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to bake your pie–

fullsizeoutput_14d94) Assembling the Pie: In a large bowl, mix together the apple slices and the cinnamon.

5) Place your pie shell onto the lined baking sheet for assembling the pie. This greatly cuts down on mess both during assembly and baking.

6) Place the apples in your pie crust evenly distributing them. Because the apples will shrink some during baking, feel free to really pile the apples into a nice mound.

fullsizeoutput_14db7) Using a handful of the crumble mixture at a time, pour the crumble topping all over the pie. You may need to very gently pat the crumble topping in place in certain areas to make sure there is even distribution of the crumble mixture. Be very careful not to pack the crumble mixture on top of the pie. Some of the crumbles will fall off (its why you are doing this over the baking sheet), but the topping of the pie needs to stay relatively loose. If you pack down the topping, you will get an impenetrable cement slab on top of your apple pie instead of lovely crust (this is a real thing that happened to me. Don’t let it happen to you).

8) Place the pie in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until the crust and the topping are golden brown (watch the pie carefully towards the end of this time frame because it can burn easily of you let it get away from you). When the top and crust is golden brown, place a sheet of foil over the pie and continue cooking the pie of 35 minutes or until the apples are tender.

9) Let the pie cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour (more cooling time is optimal to allow the juices from the cooked apples to settle). Serve and Enjoy!

fullsizeoutput_14ddCookies and Salt Note: People seem to have very strong opinions regarding which apples to use for apple pie with Granny Smith usually winning that battle. Some may even gag at the idea of using Red Delicious (I once heard a pastry chef refer to them as “those apples from the school cafeteria.” Lovely). However, for this recipe you need an apple that falls on the sweeter side of the apple spectrum. Red Delicious is definitely not my favorite apple for a snacking purposes, but, for baking, it can be really great. Because of its high sugar content, you don’t need to add much to give your pie that intense apple, almost caramely flavor. If you’re still not convinced regarding the Red Delicious, try a Golden Delicious or a Braeburn. Just stay away from the Granny Smith or even a McIntosh. Neither are sweet enough for this recipe. Stick those in your kids’ lunch box and slice yourself a piece of pie.

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