When The Boyfriend was a wee young lad, his favorite kind of pie was apple. (Not much has changed over the years.) But, being the wee young lad that he was, he didn't understand that it was called "apple pie." In all his young wisdom, he thought it was called "happy pie." I've not yet figured out whether that was a misunderstanding of words or a higher understanding of emotions. Either way, the name stuck.
As luck would have it, a few decades later the not-so-wee young lad met This Girl. Little did he know, This Girl loves to bake, especially pies (and cookies, but that's more for personal reasons).
I first made this particular apple pie recipe about eight years ago, in my small-ish kitchen in Chicago. I've since added, subtracted, and overall re-worked the recipe into a perfect pan of gooey delicious warmth. I've made this recipe more times than I can count and even tweaked it to make a "Happy Cake" for The Boyfriend's birthday last year. I don't follow a recipe anymore when I make it so some of the measurements below are approximations. Please play with it and use it as a base for your own perfectly Happy Pie!
What You Need:
1 pie crust for a 9-in. pie pan (Recipe here.)
5-6 Granny Smith apples
1 tbsp. + 1/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 stick of butter at room temperature
3/4 c. flour
A handful of old-fashioned oats (I told you these were approximations!)
Cinnamon, to taste
Nutmeg, just a tiny bit
Couple drops of lemon juice
What to Do:
1. Preheat oven to 375. Peel and core all the apples then slice them into roughly 1/4 inch slices. (I've found thicker slices hold their texture better - thinner ones tend to get a little applesauce-y.)
2. Place apple slices in a large bowl and add lemon juice, 1 tbsp. of white sugar, sprinkle of cinnamon (maybe a teaspoon or two?) and a little sprinkle of nutmeg. Toss to thoroughly coat the apples.
3. While the apples are soaking up their cinnamon sugar goodness, add the butter, flour, remaining sugar, brown sugar, oats, and a bit more cinnamon to another bowl and combine with a pastry cutter until well-incorporated. (You can use a fork if you don't have a pastry cutter.) Careful not to overwork the flour. If the mixture is a little dry, you can add a little more butter.
4. Place bottom crust in pie dish and layer apple slices on top.
5. Carefully add the crumble mixture, pressing gently to cover the top of the pie. Fold over the edges of the bottom crust, if necessary.
6. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the top is a golden brown. Usually, I just keep an eye on the pie and watch for the juices to start bubbling up between the little cracks in the crumble topping. That's when you know it's done.
7. Let cool for a bit so the filling can settle, then serve while still slightly warm. Enjoy!
Note: The real flavor of this pie comes from the tart filling and the sweet-yet-spicy crumble top. Because of that, I think it's okay to use a pre-made pastry crust for the bottom crust. (You will probably never hear me say that about any other pie recipes though!) I recommend Pillsbury's refrigerated pie crust. It's a little bland, which actually works for this recipe, but unlike most pre-made crusts, it stays tender and flaky when you bake it.