Crumb Pie - Crust = Crisp: Crustless Apple Crumb Pie

We recently had a going away party for my colleague Josh, who left the federal government for a job in private practice. Josh's favorite dessert is apple crisp. In late August I made him an apple crisp for his birthday -- the recipe was "Bea's Apple Crisp" from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich -- but I didn't blog about it because I wasn't happy with the result. I was determined to do better this time and decided to make Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Crustless Apple Crumb Pie" from The Pie and Pastry Bible.

This recipe is intended to be baked in a 9-inch pie pan but I multiplied it by 1.5 and made the crisp in an Apilco oval roaster that is roughly 12-inches by 9-inches. This crisp required a bit more work that others I've made. You toss peeled and sliced apples (I used a mix of Stayman, Smokehouse, and Granny Smith) with lemon juice, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and let the apples sit for about an hour. Then you put the apples in a colander, collect the liquid that drains off, and cook the liquid with some butter to reduce it. You toss the hot reduced juices with the apples, pour the apples into a pie pan/baking dish, cover the dish with foil, cut a small vent, and bake the apples for half an hour.

You take the partially-cooked apples out of the oven, remove the foil, and sprinkle on a topping made by pulsing brown sugar, sugar, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, flour, butter, and vanilla in the food processor. You cook the crisp until the juices are bubbling and the topping is crisp and brown.
I served the crisp at room temperature the day after baking. The top was firm and crunchy and I was super impressed that it wasn't soggy at all. My only complaint about the topping was that I couldn't taste the walnuts, or even see them -- they had been blitzed to oblivion while was pulsing the topping ingredients together in the food processor. I also loved the fact that the apples were juicy, but not soggy -- the thickened juices had a consistency and concentrated flavor reminiscent of boiled cider.

This was an outstanding apple crisp, even served at room temperature without any whipped cream or ice cream. I expect that it would be incredible served warm. I would absolutely made this crisp again and it was a huge hit at the party. And best of all, with no crust required, it was so much easier than an apple pie.

Recipe: "Crustless Apple Crumb Pie" from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Previous Post: "Little Tart, Huge Flavor: Caramel Apple Tartlettes," October 10, 2013.