I spent Labor Day weekend eating and greeting at Molly O’Neill’s Longhouse Food Revival in upstate New York. She had asked friend and professional baker Ellen if we would make 80 pies for the event. We spent two days processing fruit, rolling dough and heating the chilly kitchen with Molly’s two ovens. Ellen and I ended up with lemon meringue, pecan, peach, sour cream rum raisin, buttermilk, blueberry, Wisconsin cherry and apple.
Adorned with layers of hefty clothing and our favorite aprons, we served slices to the Revival guests who approached our stand. The program’s art intern had constructed and painted a pie wheel, displaying the different flavors available. Excited and slightly liquored patrons flung the handle, sending the painted rolling pin in a mighty spin. If it landed on something they liked, they would ask for it. If not, we would give them whatever they wanted. Cherry was the hit, maybe because it was bright in an otherwise gray landscape of dark clouds that weekend or maybe because I was telling everyone it was my favorite.
Earlier that week Ellen had tasked me with making large batches of her favorite crumb topping. After making it, I left the ziplock of it open on the table, ready for snacking. I offered it to the video editor working tirelessly out in the dining room. She looked at me with mild skepticism but then tossed a few crumbs in her mouth. Eyes wide she asked, “What is that?” I told her: butter, sugar, almonds and oats. Yum.
This topping would be great on many pies like cherry, peach or apple.
Topping for one 9-inch pie/Ellen Gray
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse ingredients until crumbly. You can also make this in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Cover your fruit filling with the crumble and bake as directed by the recipe.