Quite a few years ago when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, several other food professionals in town, along with me, were asked to judge an apple pie contest. We all took our judicial roles seriously, and tasted and re-tasted an array of pie entries. The scrumptious dessert that follows is based on my recollection of the one that won first place.
I remembered that the crust had been particularly flaky, and that the filling was perfectly balanced with sweet and tart flavors. However, it was the crunchy, streusel-like topping covering the apples that had made the pie so distinctive and had helped it garner the blue ribbon. The following recipe bears a close likeness to the original. The flaky crust is achieved by using shortening along with butter, and the filling works best with Golden Delicious apples scented with cinnamon and lemon. Both brown and white sugars blended with butter, flour, and pecans (my addition for this recipe) are the secret to the golden topping.
I like this quintessential American dessert served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollops of whipped cream, but it’s just as tempting unadorned. It’s best served the day it’s baked, but you can prepare the pie dough a day ahead, and have the ingredients for the topping measured and ready to assemble.