I am fortunate enough to live in what is known as the “fruit belt” of Michigan. Scientists consider my corner of southwest Michigan as the most productive fruit growing environment not just in the state, not just in North America, but in the world. The climate is moderated by our close proximity to Lake Michigan, by what is referred to as “lake effect.” This phenomenon keeps the area warmer in winter, and cooler in summer, and increases rainfall. The climate and the geography — the rolling terrain, the soil — are perfect for growing high quality grapes, peaches, apples and any number of other fruits.
October is prime time for apples, and, since I live right in the midst of many orchards, I have easy access to the very best and very freshest of the harvest.
For many years I made a very good, straightforward and simple double crust apple pie. But this time I wanted to try something a bit different. So, after researching many recipes, I settled on a version incorporating sour cream, walnuts and a brown sugar topping. I think it’s a real winner – the sour cream adds a richness that plays well with the tartness of the apples, and the walnuts and the topping adds crunch.
When selecting apples for this (or any apple pie, for that matter), you need to choose a tart, crisp variety. While Red or Yellow Delicious or Honey Crisps are great for fresh eating, they make for a very bland pie. My go to standby is the McIntosh, but a Jonathan is also a great pie apple.
Note that the pie shell should be frozen before you fill it and bake – this helps ensure that the crust doesn’t get burned. Also note that this is baked in two stages – first without the topping, then the topping is added and for the second stage.
Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 9 inch pie shell, frozen before filling
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups apples (about 4 large)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Mix topping ingredients in a small bowl using a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse pebbles. Set aside in refrigerator until needed.
- Mix sour cream, egg, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in large bowl.
- Peel the apples and slice into pieces about 1/4 inch thick. As you slice each apple, add to the bowl with the sour cream mixture and stir to coat apples so that they won't turn brown. Add the walnuts to the mixture and stir.
- Place apple mixture in frozen pie shell, and bake in 400° oven for 25 minutes
- After 25 minutes of baking, remove pie from oven and top with topping mixture. Return to oven and bake at 400° for an additional 20 minutes. Let cool one hour before cutting.