You would never guess from the modest faces of the citizens having lunch at Peoples Restaurant in New Holland, Pennsylvania, that they are eating the food of angels. This blue-plate-special café serves fine versions of the simple specialties for which Amish country is known, but it's the melt-in-your-mouth pies—the shoofly and especially the apple crumb—that suggest the people of Lancaster County are getting their recipes direct from heaven.
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1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water
Filling and topping
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 pounds baking apples, such as Rome or Cortland—peeled, cored and cut into 2-inch chunks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
How to Make It
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water and gently mix to form a dough. Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until very firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round. Transfer it to a 9-inch glass pie pan and trim the overhanging dough to 1/2 inch. Fold the dough under, crimp the edge decoratively and refrigerate until firm.
In a bowl, using your fingers, rub the brown sugar into the flour until blended. Work in the softened butter until the mixture is crumbly.
In a large bowl, toss the apple chunks with the granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the melted butter and then the cornstarch mixture and stir well. Spoon the apple filling into the chilled pie shell. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples, then sprinkle the pecans on top.
Bake the pie for about 50 minutes, or until browned on top and bubbling around the edges. Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly, then serve warm.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Vanilla ice cream.
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