My doctor tells a great story about the perfect holiday pie his Italian mother makes. She lives in Florida, so after missing a few Christmases together, he took his family down to be with her after she turned 90. He assumed she would not be preparing this time-consuming, complicated dessert, but there it was – his dream dish her grandchildren had all heard about.
The crust, as rich, crumbly and delicious as he remembered, brought tears to his eyes, even as he murmured the obligatory, “Ma, you shouldn’t work so hard. The crust alone must take you hours.”
“Don’t be stupid,” she replied. “I bought it at the supermarket.”
Most of us would rather not deal with making piecrust either. And we do not want the liberal amount of fat calories found in a great crust or the soggy bottom crust underlying most pies. If you agree, here is how to avoid all three.
This beautiful “crumple,” sparkling as a sugar-plum fairy, has no bottom crust, just a generous filling of apples, cranberries, raisins and walnuts heaped into a pie plate. Its “crust” is an elegant puff made by crumpling a few sheets of phyllo dough. The sparkle comes from a light dusting of sugar – be heavy-handed and the effect will be more of a snowy blizzard.
Do take care to follow directions for changing the oven temperature. The changes ensure that the filling bakes properly and the phyllo comes out golden brown and enchantingly glazed.
Sparkling Apple Crumple
• 4 (13x17-inch) sheets phyllo dough
• Canola cooking spray
• 3 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 4 gratings fresh nutmeg
• 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/4 cup golden raisins
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
Approximately 1 hour before preparing crumple, remove package of phyllo dough from refrigerator and let sit until it reaches room temperature. Remove four sheets. Loosely roll into tube, seal in plastic wrap and set aside. Return remaining phyllo to refrigerator or freezer, per package directions.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat 9x1.5-inch pie plate, preferably ovenproof glass, with cooking spray and set aside.
In mixing bowl, toss apples with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to coat fruit evenly. Add nuts, cranberries and raisins and toss until nuts and fruit are well combined. Transfer filling to prepared pie plate, spreading evenly.
Unroll sheets of phyllo. Remove one sheet of phyllo and place on work area. Immediately cover remaining dough with plastic wrap, covering completely so that it does not dry out. With one sheet of phyllo on counter in front of you, brush long edge facing you generously with melted butter. Gently gather phyllo together from either side, lift and crumple into loose ball approximately 5 inches in diameter. Set crumpled phyllo over approximately one-quarter of fruit. Repeat with remaining phyllo, leaving some space at edge of pie plate for juices to bubble up.
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 325 F and bake for 20 minutes longer. Remove crumple from oven and increase oven temperature to 400 F. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over phyllo, dusting lightly. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until phyllo is golden brown and sugar has melted to a glaze. Heavily dusted spots will remain white.
Let crumple stand for 10-60 minutes. Serve warm – phyllo gets soggy if the crumple stands longer. Cut crumpled phyllo with serrated knife. Serve using large spoon to scoop up filling.
Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 170 calories, 6 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 50 mg sodium.
Dana Jacobi is author of “12 Best Foods Cookbook” (Rodale Books, 2005) and a contributor to AICR’s “The New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life” (University of California Press, 2005).