It all started with a recipe in The Silver Palate Cookbook (Lukins & Rosso) for a sour cream apple pie. It has become a family favorite as I have played with all parts of the pie, adding whole wheat flour and lard to the crust, dried fruits to the filling and fine-tuning the topping. My favorite is dried sour plums, but dried tart cherries or cranberries are also excellent. I like my pies unadorned (and this one is pretty rich already), but freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are heavenly ways to gild this lily. You can cover the pie with a lattice or festive shapes cut from the crust, either free-hand or with cutters (crescent moon and stars are pretty) or omit the top crust completely. If you have a favorite crust, by all means use it. The fun part of this one is the way the cinnamon and cider complement the filling. It is also easy to work with. —calendargirl
Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl using a fork or metal whisk (or in the bowl of a food processor, using metal blade).
Add butter and lard, cutting with two knives or pastry cutter if working by hand. If using the processor, pulse until the mixture is coarsely combined, with large and small bits.
Add just enough of the cold cider to allow the mixture to come together in a ball. Form into a cake and wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for one or two hours. You can make and refrigerate the crust the day before you assemble the pie.
While the crust is chilling, make the TOPPING: Combine 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.
You can peel the apples if you wish, I often leave them unpeeled and just core and slice them. Unpeeled apples give a more rustic pie, which I prefer here.
Combine apple slices and the chopped sour plums in a large bowl.
Mix all the other filling ingredients in a bowl and pour over the fruit, tossing so that everything is evenly coated.
Set filling aside while you roll out the bottom crust. If you are making a lattice or cutting decorative shapes, you should reserve about a third of the dough for this.
You can roll out your dough between two sheets of waxed paper or on a lightly floured board. Place the dough in the pie pan, trimming and crimping the edge as you wish.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spoon the filling into the pie pan.
Now sprinkle the topping over the filling. Don't worry if it doesn't completely cover the filling, but do use it all. Cut the reserved pastry into strips if making a lattice, or into shapes to decorate the pie.
Bake the pie for about an hour, until the apples are tender. If necessary (and it often is for me), cover loosely with foil if the crust gets too dark before the apples are done.