For you my honey bun
My honey bun got me to bake more pies with just a crumb top nicknamed streusel top or brown betty. She definitely has a sweet tooth for sugar and the top is 1/3 sugar. These type of pies are fast to make and you don’t need to be a crust expert.
You can do this pie
Crumb top pies are super easy. If you like fruit or berry pies, but don’t like a lot of crust, then this elementary crumb topping makes a kind appealing irresistible ting to the mouth and looks quite handsome.
Some crumb history
Crumbles (crumb top) became popular in Great Brittian during the harsh years of World War II (1941). The crumb topping was an economical alternative to double crust pies due to shortages of pastry ingredients as the result of rationing. To stretch the rationed ingredients like flour, fat, and sugar, sometimes breadcrumbs or oatmeal could be added to the crumb mix. The dish was also popular due to its simplicity.
Crumbs for the poor / big family
According to The American History Cookbook, by Mark H. Zanger the crumb top was used by poor families to extend the food they had:
Brown Betty (1890) – This recipe was part of the winning essay for the $500 American Public health Association Lomb prize on practical, Sanitary, and Economic Cooking Adapted to persons of Moderate and Small Means, which became a book of the same title by Mrs. Mary Hinman Abel. It was part of a series of menus to feed a family on thirteen cents a day. Mrs. Abel may have carried the recipe into use the-the New England Kitchen, an experimental Boston restaurant aimed at “improving” the food choices of the poor.
Ingredients for one 9-inch pie
- 3 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 7 – 8 medium apples)
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons clear gel
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 pinch salt
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Blend all of the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Cut the butter into pieces and combine with the dry ingredients until it resembles course cornmeal.
Now squeeze the mixture with your hands to get it to clump up.
Now break the clump up with your finger tips and finer yet using a fork.
Don’t skip the steps above. I see bakers using their crumb mixture right away and it comes out looking like sawdust, so dry. We want crumbs, not dust.
During the 1930’s Great Depression, families used what they had on hand like old bread or stale crackers. They would combine it with some fat, sugar or wild honey and cast it over some fruit or berries. Now that’s clever.
After coring and dicing the apples, toss it with some juices.
Mix the sugars, clear gel, and spices in a bowl and toss with the apples.
Transfer the filling into a lightly buttered 9-inch glass dish.
Drizzle and loosely pack topping over and around apples.
Bake crumb topped pie in a 400°F oven for about 15 minutes. Reduce to 350°F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden and the filling is bubbling.
The pie will be very hot. Let it cool for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm. Oh yes, serve with ice cream.
Crumb Top Success
It’s common for crumb tops to brown unevenly. Rotate the pie half way to get even browning or reduce the temperature down to 300°F if it the top bakes too fast.
Crumb top pies need less pie filling thickening.