Some of my favorite meals as a child were lunches with my Dad when he took me to work at the Twentieth Century Fox studio. This pie, served at the studio comissary, was my favorite. I doubt it had any legitimate connection with France, but I loved the way the crunchy topping contrasted with the slightly mushy filling, the bright apple flavor, and the over-the-top sweetness. Using my memory and assorted baking texts, I came up with a recipe that I think must be pretty close to the one used by the commissary in the 1950s.
Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan. Put all but 2 of the graham crackers in a food processor and process them into fine crumbs; you should have about 1-3/4 cups. (Alternatively, you can put them in a zip-top bag and crush them by rolling a rolling pin or unopened can over them.)
In the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 6 Tbs. of the butter. In a medium bowl, mix the butter and the graham cracker crumbs with your fingers until thoroughly and evenly moistened.
Press the crumb mixture firmly and evenly against the sides and bottom of the pan, but don’t press any crumbs above the sides onto the rim. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup to compact the crumbs into a thick crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Mix the apples, granulated sugar, raisins, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl; transfer the mixture to the baking dish and bake, uncovered, stirring halfway through, until the apples are very soft, about 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Tip:Because the crust is not baked, expect it to crumble a bit when sliced.
Fill the chilled piecrust with the apple mixture, gently tamping it down evenly. Melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter. Crumble the remaining 2 graham crackers with your hands into a medium bowl (the crumbs should not be as fine as those for the crust). Mix in the brown sugar and the breadcrumbs, and then toss with the melted butter. Spread the topping evenly over the apple filling. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
nutrition information (per serving):
sat fat g
Photo: Scott Phillips