Sour Cream Apple Pie

Autumn is my favorite season, the energy-draining humidity a distant memory. The first cool, crisp night’s sleep snuggled under down comforters – shaken, fluffed, aired in the last waning bits of sun – feels like a celebration of sleep as it should be. But my favorite part of the season involves anything apples – cakes, pies and dehydrating apples into fruit leather!

This year’s harvest is bountiful, a benefit of this past summer’s prolific rain, the apples larger and juicier than past years. The downside is the flavors are a bit more muted, taking a little more tweaking, playing with spices and sugar levels to maximize flavors. While my mother only used one type of apple for pies – Granny Smith – resulting in a consistent taste, I use at least two varieties – Macoun and Cortland were my favorites this fall – one that will holds its shape, and another that will break down during cooking into a lovely sauce.

I could write pages about which varieties fit each category, but I think the best approach is to find local orchards, asking about their specific varieties and recommendations. I’ve never been given bad information by the people who devote their lives to raising great apples.

A handy tool is, A Pie Maker’s Guide to Apple Varieties, partially readable online at Google Books.

One of these days, I’ll make a simple good old-fashioned two-crust apple pie, but so far, whenever my family knows I’m heading to the kitchen to make a pie, they plead, “You’re making the sour cream one, right??” The original recipes were loaded with sugar, didn’t contain vanilla – apple flavor’s best friend – and used lemon juice, a flavor I think detracts instead of enhancing apple’s complex, rich taste.

The following recipe is the result of several years of tweaking, many hours of volunteer taste testers (it’s not a tough job, they say) and is finally at a stage where I’m ready to convert my scribbled, stained notes, committing them to paper, or at least, the computer screen.

Perfect Autumn Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe


  • 1 recipe of your favorite pate brise (butter crust)


  • 4 TBS flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (Rapadura, Muscovado, or Succanet)
  • 2 eggs (med)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 8 medium apples, peeled, thinly sliced – 1/8-inch (8-cups)


  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  1. Prepare 10”-inch deep-dish pie shell, preferably pate brisee (butter crust); roll and insert in pie plate; set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Prepare filling, first hand-stirring ALL ingredients EXCEPT the apple slices
  4. When filling mixture is well blended, gently fold in the apple slices, taking care not to break any
  5. Scoop the apple filling into the prepared pie crust – do not pack tightly!
  6. Set pie on a cookie or baking sheet and place in oven; bake for 10-minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to 350f, continue baking for 20 minutes; remove pie from oven and gently stir the apple filling by scooping up sections and turning over
  8. While pie is baking, make the pie topping; set aside.
  9. Return pie to oven, bake for additional 20-minutes; check texture with a toothpick. If more baking time is needed, loosely cover pie filling with a piece of aluminum foil, to ensure filling won’t dry out. Use toothpick to check apple texture.
  10. When apples are done, remove pie from oven
  11. Turn heat back to 400f
  12. Add crumb topping, gently and firmly pressing into place;
  13. Bake an additional 10 minutes at 400f.

The filling and topping are for one 10”-pie or for 2 8”-pies.