Sassafras Bakery's Delectable Crumble Topping
Lately I have been in a pie rut. My crusts have been tougher than I like and I suspected it had something to do with my switch to making pie crust with 100% butter fat. Compared to shortening, butter is arguably more healthy (because it contains healthy acids and vitamins) and easy to buy or make from local cream. I also much prefer the flavor of a butter crust to anything else. I could switch to lard and have made and used lard on occasion, but it isn't something I have on hand all the time.
I finally solved the butter crust riddle when I tested my theory that a thicker crust would correct butter fat's tendency toward toughness. The cranberry apple pie pictured above has a double crust recipe rolled thickly. The resulting crust is tender yet holds up to a fairly wet filling. It was neither mushy nor unyielding to a knife.
What placed my pie in the realm of perfection, however, is all in the topping. AJ of Sassafras Bakery generously shared her recipe with me on Twitter. Once I tested it, I asked for permission to publish for you and she agreed. Meet AJ and learn more secrets at her Buttercream-Decorated Sugar Cookies class December 1 and/or Art of Pie class December 8 at Franklin Park Conservatory.
I made AJ's crumble with Hawaiian macadamia nuts and smothered it on top of cranberries and apples because those are the ingredients I had on hand. I know I'll try it with other nuts and fruits as the seasons turn - I can almost taste a pear pie with pecan crumble topping and peach with walnut. Play with this recipe and let me know what combinations you love! Sassafras Bakery's Delectable Crumble Topping Makes: Topping for 1 9-inch pie Time: 10 minutes preparation, 30-45 minutes cooking
2/3 cup raw nuts (macadamia, walnuts, pecans suggested) 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter 1/2 cup white granulated sugar 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour
1. In a small saute pan, roast nuts over medium heat. Stir frequently and watch/smell carefully. As soon as nuts are slightly browned and smelling nutty, remove from heat. 2. Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat in a small sauce pan. 3. When butter is melted, add remaining ingredients and stir. Remove from heat. 4. Add nuts and stir to combine. 5. Spoon or use hands to place topping over a single-crust fruit-filled pie. You may not have complete coverage and that's ok. 6. Place a round of aluminium foil just smaller than the top of the pie on top to prevent burning. Remove foil five to ten minutes before cooking is complete to brown the top. 7. Allow to cool at least one hour before slicing.