French Apple Pie with Butterflake Crust

Article first published as French Apple Pie with Butterflake Crust on Blogcritics.

It's apple picking season! Here in Chicago, we've been having some fabulous weather - perfect for a day at the apple orchards. After a visit, we're left with so many apples to play with and almost every year, we end up making an apple pie. This year, we enjoyed a French Apple Pie with a Butterflake Crust and it was so good, we'll probably made it again to grace our holiday table in the coming months. The butterflake crust makes for a deliciously rich pie, not to mention the sweet apple filling with all the flavors of fall swirled in. Although apple season is usually in the fall, this is one pie you can make all year round...

Thanks to my friend/neighbor, Ro, she made this pie a couple weeks ago for a pie swap event I hosted. It was amazing and I confess I indulged in this gluten laden treat at the time. (Trust me, it was worth feeling sick over!) I prepared the pie using her recipe using a gluten free all purpose flour that included xanthan gum and wow... so so good. If you're not keen on making a pie crust, have no fear. This pie crust is forgiving and because of the amount of cream cheese and butter, it's easier to work with... if you don't mind a slightly sticky dough.

As for the apples, I like a combination of tart and sweet apples. For tart apples, try Granny Smiths, Empires, or Cortlands; for sweet, we recommend Golden Delicious, Jonagolds, or Braeburns. The filling for this pie takes some effort but believe me, it's worth it. Apple slices are peeled, cored and sliced before tossing with lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. The apples macerate a bit, allowing some natural juices to come out. These juices are saved and boiled down with butter to concentrate the flavors and soon enough, a delicious golden syrup is made.

The apple slices are tossed in cornstarch and mounded high in the prepared pie crust, followed by the syrup drizzled on top of them. Don't worry if the pie looks ridiculously full. The apples will cook down while baking so it won't come out quite as high. Then a sweet crumb topping of butter, flour and sugar is sprinkled on top of the apples for good measure before baking.

With a delicious buttery, cream crust, perfectly sweetened apples, a drizzle of apple syrup and a lovely brown sugar and butter crumb topping, what's not to love?!

French Apple Pie with Butterflake Crust
recipe from friend, Ro Jacobshagen

This pastry crust recipe makes 2 crusts; since you will only use one bottom crust for this recipe, you can either halve the recipe or do what I like to do:  make 2 pies, bake one to serve right away and freeze one unbaked pie. Note:  The filling and topping recipes will need to be doubled if you are making 2 pies.

8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
½ pound of butter, softened
2 cups all purpose flour (or gluten free all purpose flour such as Tom Sawyer brand)
1 egg white, beaten

Blend cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl with a stiff spatula, combining well. Add flour and work into mixture with a pastry blender or fork until well mixed.  Divide pastry in half for two crusts, put one of the balls onto some plastic wrap (top and bottom separate pieces) and flatten out into a fat round.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.   You can mix the crust up the day ahead of time, too. 

Roll out one crust between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, turning it over and lifting the plastic up and putting it back down again as your circle of pastry gets bigger.  As it gets bigger, you’ll need to use 2 pieces of plastic on each side.  You can also roll it out on a well floured board or pastry cloth.

Once it’s the right size for your pie pan, take the plastic wrap off one side, flip it into the pie pan and once it is in, carefully remove the other pieces of plastic wrap.  Once you crimp the edges of the crust, brush the bottom and sides with the beaten egg white.  This helps to seal the crust from the apple juices soaking through.  Put the pie crust in the fridge while you prepare the apple filling.

Filling (for one pie):
2-1/2 pounds of baking apples (about 6 medium), peeled, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup of granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon        
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss to mix.  Allow the apples to macerate at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.  (Make the topping while it is resting)

Drain the apples in a colander over a bowl to catch the juices.  The mixture will release at least ½ cup of liquid.

In a small saucepan (nonstick works best) over medium-high heat, boil down the liquid with the butter to about 1/3 cup or a little more until syrupy and slightly caramelized; about 10 or so minutes.  Swirl the liquid, but do not stir it.  You can also do this in the microwave by spraying a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup with Pam, add the juices and butter and boil it in the microwave for 5 or so minutes.

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the apples and toss them gently until cornstarch is blended.

Pour syrup over apples, tossing gently and don’t be concerned if the liquid hardens on contact as it will dissolve during baking.

Preheat the oven to 425 – Set oven rack to lowest level and put down a foil topped baking stone, cookie sheet or heavy duty foil.

While the syrup is caramelizing, make the crumb topping:

½ cup of butter
½ cup of firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup flour

Mix together with pastry blender or fork until it resembles large coarse peas.

Put the apple filling into the pie shell and mound the topping on top.  Don’t worry that it mounds up really high as the apples sink down as they cook.   

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes.  After 30 minutes or so, check how brown the crust is getting and if it looks brown already, put some foil strips over the crust.

Cool the pie for at least 4 hours before cutting.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. Yum! When can I come over for a slice? I'm only half joking, of course... =)

  2. I have 7 packages of cream cheese and this pie recipe is definitely a must do! Who would've thunk of cream cheese in the crust? Thanks for sharing.

    btw - I'm lovin'g Chi-town's weather, too!

  3. Your picture of the pie speaks a thousand words...about its yummy element!

  4. This cake looks absolutely delicious !!

  5. Hi! Just happen to stumble upon your blog...have you tried this recipe with just a regular all purpose flour? Would you recommend making it with gluten-free flour? What size of pan did you use? Thanks!

  6. Hi Anonymous! The first time I had this, the pie was made with regular all purpose flour - it was amazing! (I cheated a bit from my gluten free diet to have it and it was so worth it lol) I liked it so much, I made it again with gluten free flour (Tom Sawyer brand) and it was delicious too. When making it with gluten free flour, I had to form the dough a bit more with my fingertips but that's common with gluten free doughs (at least in my experience). I also used a standard pie plate - either way with all purpose or gluten free, this pie is delicious!

  7. Thanks Joelen! My name is Kathy. One more question... How is the crust different from the pate brisee one? I will your recipe this week. I'm excited!

  8. Hi Kathy! For a traditional pate brisee, it's usually butter, flour, cold water and a touch of salt. This crust is similar but uses a combination of cream cheese and butter as well as flour - no salt or water. If you wanted, you could always use a pate brisee crust instead (which would work well I'm sure too!)