This sour cream apple pie makes up half of what The One (that’s short for “The One Who Brings Me Love, Joy, and Happiness”) and I have dubbed “Love Food.” When he and I began a’courtin’, way back in ancient history, it was October, so the meals we made each other–and there weren’t many in our repertoires–were autumnal. And they were the same every weekend.
He made cider-braised pork loin with sautéed apples. It was his only cooking ace up his sleeve. (Remember: This is the guy who, long before we met, made Thanksgiving turkey and forgot the carcass in his oven only to discover his gaffe when he turned on the stove Christmas morning.)
I was marvelously thin at the time and barely ate, let alone cooked, so the only rabbit I could pull out of a hat was, ironically, this sinfully indulgent sour cream apple pie.
Several times a month, all that fall and winter, that’s what we made each other. Pork and apple pie.
☞ READ THE ARTICLE: LOVE FOOD
Twenty-seven years later, our cooking repertoires have mercifully expanded, along with our waistlines. (Thank ye gods for sweatpants!)
Recently, in a moment of nostalgia, I rooted around for the original recipe for this pie–I think it was from Gourmet magazine–but I couldn’t find it on the shelves of cookbooks and magazines in the kitchen, the office, or the basement. So I recreated it. The verdict?
The One held out his plate for seconds. Still crazy (in love) after all these years.–David Leite
Sour Cream Apple Pie FAQs
The apples need to be thinly sliced, not in the chunks you may find in other apple pies. We recommend using a paring knife to thinly slice, or a mandoline.
Granny Smith apples are naturally a bit tart, so they keep desserts from being overly sweet. They also are sturdy and hold their shape while baking, while most other apples would just turn to mush.
Turns out, she was a real person! The Granny Smith Apple is named after the woman who propagated it in Australia in 1868. Her name was Maria Ann Smith… and we can only presume she was someone’s sweet granny.
A streusel-topped apple pie tends to be dubbed Dutch apple pie here in the States for reasons that vary according to whomever tells the story.
Sour Cream Apple Pie
For the pie crust
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 -inch (12-mm) chunks
- Ice water
For the streusel topping
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the sour cream apple pie filling
Mix together the pie crust
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, ginger, and salt.
- Dump the butter in the bowl and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (Sure, you could instead blitz the ingredients in a food processor until crumbly. But why bother having to clean the blade for so little dough?)
- Add 3 tablespoons ice water, toss the mixture with a fork until the water is incorporated, and continue mixing until the dough clumps. If the dough seems dry, continue adding water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it comes together. Flatten the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Position a rack in the lowest part of the oven, slide a baking stone or a heavy baking sheet on top, and crank the temperature to 425°F (218°C). Let the oven heat for at least 30 minutes. You want that stone to be hot.
Make the streusel topping
- In a small bowl stir together the flour, nuts, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Cover and stash it in the fridge until you’re done rolling out the crust.
Roll out the crust
- When the dough is fully chilled, roll it out to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thickness on a lightly floured surface. Draping the dough on the rolling pin, gently ease it into a deep-dish 9-inch (23-cm) pie plate, and then go wild crimping the edge. Back into the fridge it goes for at least 30 minutes.
☞ TESTER TIP: Using a heatproof glass pie plate lets you check the bottom of the pie crust for doneness without having to cut into the pie.
Make the sour cream-apple pie filling
- While the crust is chilling, in a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla, zest, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg until smooth.
Assemble and bake the apple pie
- Carefully layer the apples in the pie plate, as you would a gratin, gently flattening them as you go. Slowly pour the sour-cream mixture over the apples. (Yes, it’s a lot of filling. Use it all.)
- Bake the pie directly on the baking stone or baking sheet, without the streusel topping, for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pie from the oven and carefully crumble the streusel on top. Slide the pie back onto the baking stone, lower the temperature to 375°F (190°C), and bake until the streusel is deeply golden brown and the middle looks dry, 40 to 60 minutes more. If the topping begins browning too much, loosely cover the pie with foil.
☞ TESTER TIP: If the bottom of the pie looks a little underdone at the end of baking, set the plate directly on the hot oven floor for a few minutes to finish. (Yes, I do mean the floor of the oven.)
- Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely. (Completely! This baby will fall apart when warm.) Slice and serve only once it’s reached room temperature. Ideally, let it rest overnight.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This sour cream apple pie is a truly delectable pie. I attest to this as I shove another forkful in my face and crumbs fall upon my keyboard!
It’s heavenly. The cinnamon, lemon zest, and freshly grated nutmeg in the filling brightened and heightened the flavor and the ginger in the pie crust really came through (I just bought a new container; don’t settle for old, gross ginger dust).
I weighed the apples before coring, peeling, and slicing and it was the perfect ratio of apple to filling. I loved how the juices of the apples combined with the sour cream custard as it baked. The interior really reminds me of an open-face German apple kuchen tart that my grandmother used to bake when I was little. This pie made me so nostalgic for her and the smells in her kitchen.
I also think layering the apples in neatly, like you would a gratin, made a big difference in the evenness of the baking and the tenderness of the apples. They were all perfectly tender but not at all mushy.
Another revelation was David’s trick of using a glass pie plate for optimal viewing of the bottom and sides to check for doneness! Why did I never think of this?! All these years I’ve been baking pies in my pretty but kind of useless Emile Henry ceramic pie plates! Never again will I have to put up with a soggy-bottom pastry. Glass only from here on out.
AND the other trick that David was kind enough to share, is that if you DO find yourself viewing an underdone pastry bottom, just sit that pie right on the oven floor to blast it with heat directly from the source! Brilliant trick and worked like a charm!
This recipe is a real keeper. My husband wolfed his piece down.
This is one of the easiest doughs I’ve ever worked with! It rolled out beautifully! I did need an extra tablespoon ice water to get the dough to come together. I was lazy and pulsed the ingredients in a food processor and I refrigerated the dough overnight.
My pie was completely and gorgeously done at the final 60 minute mark (that 60 minutes doesn’t include the initial 20 minutes without the topping), but just to be absolutely SURE, I followed David’s trick and let it sit directly on the floor of the oven for the last 7 or 8 minutes.
I let the pie cool COMPLETELY before cutting it and was rewarded with clean, beautiful slices that came right out of the pan without even a bit of a fight. In fact, this was the easiest pie to cut EVER!
Great recipe! Easy-to-find ingredients, easy-to-follow instructions, smells amazing baking, and tastes delicious!
The flavors of the tart Granny Smith apples with the sweet topping is perfect. The crust is light and not too sweet. I didn’t taste the ginger in the crust so may add a bit more. The filling is yummy and holds together nicely. The pieces all come out nice and neat.
I always make the same pies for Thanksgiving, sticking to tradition and the pies I know everyone loves. This pie is so good I’m going to switch things up a bit and replace my traditional apple pie with this.
I cut my apples as thinly as possible. My mom taught me the secret to good apple pie is slicing the apples thin!
I am already getting requests for some more pie!!
I am someone who rarely bothers with making desserts. I’ve never liked cake. A birthday pie would suit my fancy but no one ever offered that to me.
The next issue for me is that I have never been successful with making pies. Making the crust, rolling it out, transferring it to the pie plate, and then getting it to form the crust has always been too much for me to deal with. I have always found crostatas far more forgiving, so that has been my choice, if I really needed to throw something together. This pie helped me change all of that. More importantly for me, it has given me the confidence to blaze the pie-making trail.
The instructions for making this apple pie with sour cream are easy to understand. I felt like the author was standing with me, telling me what to do every step of the way. Little surprises, like the ginger in the pie crust, just work. The Granny Smith apples combined with the sour cream, lemon zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg make for a wonderful filling.
The crumble topping is plentiful and delicious. All of the steps are described in a way that I believe anyone would meet with success.
I have made this pie twice already, and even put candles in one to make it a birthday pie for my husband. I welcome one for myself when the time comes. If need be, I will even make it for myself.
I made this streusel apple pie for Teacher’s Appreciation Day at my children’s school one morning and when I came back to pick up the pie dish at lunch it was nearly gone! I was able to steal the last few bites to test it for myself and it was perfectly spiced and delicate with a bit of sour creaminess that made it divine!
I made it over two days to space out the time and it was perfection. It’s a fun twist for anyone looking for something different than their usual apple pie.
I used a mandoline to slice the apples.
My dough needed an extra 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water to come together and then I left it in the fridge for 5 hours.
The topping stayed in the fridge for about 15 hours and the pie dough, once rolled out, was in there for 15 hours as well.
It sat overnight with foil on top of the stove until I could deliver it to the teachers the next morning. Seemed the best breakfast ever.
I had the chance to share this sour cream apple pie with some neighbors, my sister and brother-in-law, as well as my husband. The overwhelming response was, “OMG, great pie!!”
Most people seemed to be impressed by the creaminess of the sour cream filling as opposed to a straightforward apple pie. I also really enjoyed the addition of the lemon and zest, which added a nice zing.
Also, something I realized after making this pie twice, was that it’s a very easy pie to slice and serve. I think the sour cream and eggs help to keep the apples together, so none of the slices (even the dreaded first slice) ever fell apart when serving.
The second time around, the bottom of the pie was still not quite baked to my personal liking, even after I kept the pie on the oven for an additional 30 minutes. No one else seemed to notice, so I think this really is a personal preference. I might try blind baking the crust first, then adding the filing to ensure a crunchier crust the next time, but this is probably not a necessary step for anyone else.
This will definitely be my go-to apple pie. I will make this again, probably for Thanksgiving and possibly for Christmas.
This pie easily served 12 people, though if you were serving a group of pie lovers, maybe they would prefer it to serve 8 to 10.