November 25, 2009 04:00 PM

Just how much does Michelle Branch love pie? “I was thinking of tattooing the crust recipe on my arm,” she laughs. This treat is a combo of a Gourmet crust recipe and a filling from New York City’s Buttercup Bake Shop, which Michelle whips up with the help of daughter Owen Isabelle, 4, sometimes tweaking the taste with different fruit butters (a purple sweet-potato butter will turn the filling pink!).

“You can’t go wrong with apple pie,” says Michelle, 26, who calls baking her “zen escape” and wants to open a bakery in Nashville someday. “If you eat it for breakfast with ice cream, you’ve got your fruit and your dairy for the day!”

Rob Howard for PEOPLE for use on CBB

Click below for the recipe and another photo of Michelle and Owen!

Rob Howard for PEOPLE for use on CBB

Apple Butter Apple Pie

Makes: 1 (9-inch) pie Hands-on time: 35 min. Total time: 2 hrs., 10 min.

½ cup sugar
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4½ cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples (about 4 large apples)
¼ cup apple butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 425*.
2. Combine first four ingredients; sprinkle over apples and toss gently. Stir in apple butter and lemon juice.
3. Spoon apple mixture into prepared pastry. Sprinkle Crumb Topping over apple mixture, covering completely.
4. Bake 10 minutes at 425*. Reduce temperature to 350* and bake 25 to 35 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes.

Pastry for 9-inch pie:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled
2½ to 3 tablespoons ice water

1. Pulse first three ingredients in a food processor three or four times or until combined.
2. Add butter and pulse five or six times or until crumbly. With processor running, gradually add water 1 tablespoon at a time and process until dough forms a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding more water if necessary. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
3. Roll pastry to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place in a 9-inch pie plate; trim off excess pastry along edges. Fold edges under and crimp.

Crumb topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup uncooked regular oats
2/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor three or four times or just until crumbly.

Note: Substitute other fruit butters for apple butter if desired.

Source: PEOPLE Country, December issue

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