Mom’s Apple Pie with Cheddar Crumble Topping

The nooks! The crannies! I love this pie with its unique cheddar crumble topping. I make it when the weather first turns and apple trees in the area are weighed down with fruit. When I took this pie out of the oven, it looked so gorgeous and smelled so good I found myself humming, “You’re just too good to be true” in sheer anticipation of taking my first bite. Mom’s Apple Pie never disappoints.

dsc_0354This recipe calls for a single crust on the bottom and a streusel-style crumble made of cheddar cheese, butter, flour, sugar, and salt, on top. Every time I make it, I add a just little more cheddar as I try to figure out just how much cheddar is too much for I love getting a taste of cheddar in every bite! Right now, I’m up to 1⅓ cups or four ounces. Mom’s original recipe called for 1/2 cup of cheese.

Yield: One 9-inch deep-dish pie

Filling Ingredients:


1 pie crust (I love Trader Jo’s Pie Crust)
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (8 cups, or 2 pounds when cleaned)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or ground cloves (optional)

Topping Ingredients:

1⅓ cups cheddar cheese (4 ounces), shredded
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, chipped into pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 425º. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven on the middle rack and let it preheat along with the oven. Starting the baking process in a very hot oven with a pizza stone helps to ensure a cooked bottom crust. Place a baking sheet on the oven rack beneath the pizza stone to capture any juices that bubble over.

Mise en place


Roll out pie crust and place in the bottom of the pie plate. Fold edges in and crimp to make it pretty. Set aside.

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Peel and slice the apples with a paring knife, or try one of the modern conveniences out there for peeling and slicing. Set sliced apples aside.

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Mix filling ingredients in a bowl. The apples should be at room temperature to ensure even cooking. Set aside.

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Mix topping ingredients until the streusel forms small chunks. I mix the topping ingredients either in a food processor

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Or in a bowl with a pastry blender or mixer. Set aside.

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Put It All Together

Pour filling into the prepared, uncooked pie crust. Pack the apples down


Place pie on the pizza stone and set the timer for 15 minutes.


When the timer rings, spread the topping mixture evenly over the pie filling and decrease the oven temperature to 350º. Set timer for 30 more minutes.


When the timer goes off, the topping should be lightly browned. Place a piece of foil loosely tented over the top to slow down further browning of the streusel.


Cook for another 20-30 minutes. The interior of the pie isn’t done until you see the juices start to bubble over.


The pie on the left has a fine crumb. The one on the right was processed a little longer until it clumped. I like the taste and texture of the clumpier topping.

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Finally, Waste Not, Want Not

My family and I get the apple slices; the chickens get the scraps.

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Related Posts
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Very Berry Clafoutis


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© 2014-2021 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Zeyda’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

When I was growing up, my stepfather’s favorite pie was strawberry rhubarb. I often made it for him when I was in town for Father’s Day. I grew to love it myself.

It is the perfect combination of sweet and tart tastes; right up there with my other favorite sweet and tart combo, Ricotta and Lemon Cookies.

Rhubarb is a perennial plant that is considered a fruit. It has pale green to crimson red stalks, depending on the variety, and green leaves that are poisonous to eat. The stalks look similar to Swiss chard.


Because the stalks are most often used in desserts, specifically pies, you will sometimes see rhubarb referred to as “pie plant” in older cookbooks.


This is my time-honored recipe for making this scrumptious dessert.

Yield: Makes one deep-dish 9″ pie


6 cups hulled and quartered strawberries (2 pounds after hulling)
3 cups sliced rhubarb (1 pound, maybe 6 stems)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
1  9-inch double pie crust
1 egg and a little sugar for the egg wash

Mise en Place:

Preheat oven to 425º

Prep the strawberries and rhubarb as shown.
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Prepare the pie crust: I like to use Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts. Once the crusts come to room temperature, which takes about 90 minutes, unroll one crust leaving it in its plastic packaging as you do.  You’ll find that the dough breaks up into wide strips as you unroll it. Not a problem, just use a rolling pin to lightly rejoin the cracks while the dough is still sandwiched between the plastic. Next, remove the plastic covering from one side of the crust. Using the corners of the remaining plastic square, lift the crust, turn it over and plop it into the pie plate. Continue to leave the plastic on as you then press the pie crust down into the pie plate. Remove the plastic and the bottom crust is now ready for filling.
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Put the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon zest and vanilla in one bowl and mix gently. Put the sugar, cornstarch and salt in another bowl and mix.

Gently mix the contents of both bowls together for about ten seconds.You don’t want it to become soupy. Pour mixture into the pie plate.
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Roll out the second pie crust in the same way as described above. Remove one of the plastic coverings and use the corners of the remaining covering to position the top crust centrally over the bottom crust. There should be an overhang of dough. Next, remove the last plastic square and go around the rim of the pie and tuck the top crust edges in between the pie plate and the bottom crust. This should create a nice seal to keep the filling in the pie.
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Flute the two crust edges together, using your fingers as shown in the pictures below, to make a pretty edge for your pie.
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Using a fork, beat one egg in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to spread the egg wash over the top of the pie all the way to the edge. If the egg wash puddles in the dimples in the crust, use a paper towel to mop them up. Lightly sprinkle sugar over the top.
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Using a knife, cut small slits into the top crust to allow steam to escape as the filling cooks. Place the pie on a baking sheet to collect any juices that bubble out. Bake pie at 425º for twenty minutes on the middle oven rack. Best to set a timer. Lower oven heat to 350º and cook for about 45 – 50 minutes longer until crust starts to turn golden brown and you can see the juices bubbling.

This pie was so gorgeous, I started humming You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you …

Cool slightly and serve. Vanilla ice cream would be great with it. If you want the inside of the pie to be firm, you’ll need to refrigerate it until the filling cools down and sets.

Related Posts on Cooking with Strawberries
Oven-Roasted Strawberry and Rosemary Jam
Very Berry Clafoutis

Related Pie Posts
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Streusel Topping
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie


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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie

Sometimes it happens this way: you’re perusing Facebook and see a picture of a pie that looks just like what you and your mom used to make for dessert on Thanksgiving morning!

You read a little further and realize the person who posted the pie photo is an old childhood neighbor, Erin McHugh, whom you haven’t seen in forty years. Erin calls her pie Cranberry Surprise. You call yours Mrs.Walker’s Cranberry Pie.

I messaged Erin, “Hey, it’s Judy Culotta from Bay View! Mom and I used to make a cranberry pie that looked just like yours. Is that Mrs. Walker’s recipe?” Erin sent me a link to her pie recipe. At first glance, the ingredients looked quite different, and then I realized Erin’s recipe, written for a 9-inch pie plate, was simply a doubled version of Mrs. Walker’s recipe written for a shallow 8-inch pie pan.

Mrs. Walker’s recipe called for a combination of oleo and shortening, while Erin’s recipe called for butter. Whenever you see old recipes that call for “oleo,” know it was a shortened name for “oleomargarine,” a solid form of vegetable oil (oleic acid). Originally, oleo was sold as a white-colored fat. Home cooks were instructed to mix in a yellow food coloring capsule to make it look like butter. Please write a comment if you remember doing that. Consumers had to mix in the dye because dairy lobbyists worked to keep margarine white and butter yellow. Yellow margarine finally became available in 1969.

Hearing from Erin and making this recipe again was delightful! It sent me down Memory Lane. I found these old photos of our home taken in 1964 before my grandfather renovated the house and turned it into a year-round dwelling. The cottage was known as “The Eye of Bay View” because an eye-shaped window faced the entrance to this small and magical Monteagle-like summer community.

The farmhouse was built in 1894 by Ida Tripp, mother of Hazel Atkinson. Hazel lived there with her daughters, Ruth and Hope. It turns out, Erin’s family and the Atkinsons were dear friends. Erin wrote a tender story about them and Surprise Pie in her recently published book, One Good Deed. Here is an excerpt.

Here are photos of the farmhouse from the early 1900s.

Before 1980, recipes calling for “a bag of cranberries” meant a 16-ounce bag, not the 12-ounce bags sold now. In 1980, there was a shortage of cranberries and the cranberry growers’ consortium changed to smaller-sized packaging to keep up with demand. They never went back to the 16-ounce bag. A 12-ounce bag has 3½ cups of berries.


Cranberry Filling:
12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (about 3½ cups),
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup granulated sugar

Cake Batter:
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted (1½ sticks)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with butter.

Spread cranberries over the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with nuts.

Add the ½ cup portion of sugar.

Add eggs to the mixing bowl and beat well. Add the 1 cup portion of sugar, the vanilla, butter, and flour and beat for another 30 seconds. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and base of the bowl.

Spoon batter over the cranberry mixture. Use an icing knife to spread it across the top.

Bake for 45 minutes on the center oven rack. Test center of pie with a knife for doneness. If there is still batter on the knife, set the timer for five more minutes and check again. Continue in this way until knife comes out clean.

Use an “edge protector” if needed to keep the crust’s rim from burning.

Serve warm with freshly made whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Triple this recipe for a Crowd-Pleasing Dessert (24 people)

Filling: 9 cups fresh cranberries, 1½ cups chopped nuts, 1½ cups sugar. Spread cranberries and nuts over a greased half baking sheet (13″ by 18″ by 1″). Sprinkle with sugar.

Topping: Mix together 4½ sticks of melted butter, 3 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, and 6 eggs. Add 3 cups of flour. Mix for 30 seconds until smooth. Use a stainless icing spatula to spread the batter over the cranberries, starting in the pan’s center and moving outward. Don’t bring the batter all the way to the edges. Don’t want the batter to spill over the side of the pan as it cooks.

Bake in a 350º oven for 45 minutes. Just made it — no batter dripped over the edge of the pan!

While the cake is warm, use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut disks to plate individual servings.

Place each warm disk in the center of a plate and top with freshly made whipped cream or ice cream.

Wondering how cranberries are grown and harvested? I wrote a fun story about it here.

Favorite Thanksgiving Desserts
Pumpkin Bread Pudding (with caramel sauce and whipped cream on top!)
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Streusel Topping
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

Thanksgiving Day Side Dishes We Love
Melissa’s Sweet Potato Casserole
Grandma’s Cranberry Chutney
Auntie Martha’s Spicy Spinach (aka Spinach Madeleine)
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots


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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

This is a Thanksgiving Day favorite. It was given to my mother by Mickey Kohn, a fabulous cook and old family friend. Because our family was so large and for the sake of variety, we usually made two different pumpkin pies every Thanksgiving, Mom’s Pumpkin Pie and this pumpkin cheesecake.

DSC_0399In this pumpkin dessert, we add ginger, cloves, salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract for flavoring. As we’ve seen in other recipes where pumpkin purée is the main ingredient, it takes a lot of spice to get pumpkin to taste like the pumpkin we know and love in our favorite desserts.

Yield: One 9-inch deep dish pie, or one 10-inch regular depth pie


Pie Filling:
1  9-inch pie crust, uncooked
1  8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1¾ cups pumpkin purée (one 15 ounce can)
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar


Mise en Place:


1) Preheat oven to 375º

2) Arrange homemade or store-bought pie crust in a pie pan:
Unroll dough. Use a rolling pin to lightly roll the dough. This helps to even it out.


Remove the top layer of plastic liner from the dough. Gently flip dough over the pie pan. Center dough over the pan and then gently push it into the bottom crevices of the pie pan.

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Remove second plastic liner. Tuck overhanging dough underneath itself.


Flute dough edges for a pretty and finished look: place the index finger of your writing hand against the inside edge of the dough. Use the thumb and index finger on your other hand to gently press the dough around that index finger. Continue all the way around the circle.


3) Prepare Pie Filling:
Cream together cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt for one minute at medium speed.


Slowly add beaten eggs. Mix well. Blend in pumpkin purée, milk, and vanilla. Mix at a slow speed for one minute.


Pour filling into the pie shell and bake for 45-50 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


After the pie had baked for 35 minutes, I noticed the pie crust was starting to get brown while the center was still not cooked, so I added a pie crust shield over the rim to slow down the browning process. If you don’t have a shield, cut three 4-inch strips of foil and crimp them over the crust’s edges. Leave them there until the pie is finished baking.

Note to self: use a thinner lipped pie crust shield the next time. Pumpkin pie rises like a soufflé as it cooks and this wide shield impeded that expansion. It turned out okay in the end because the marks left from the shield were covered up by the topping.

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4) Prepare Topping:
Spoon one cup of sour cream into a container. Add sugar to sour cream and stir until smooth.

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Scoop the topping onto the cooked pie and spread evenly almost to the crust.

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Bake for 3-5 more minutes until topping is set.


Let cool on a wire rack. Serve chilled.


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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.