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Apple, Black Sesame & Cardamom Crumble Pie

Excerpted with permission from Tables & Spreads: A Go-To Guide for Beautiful Snacks, Intimate Gatherings, and Inviting Feasts (Chronicle Books, 2021) Text and photograph © 2021 by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegetarian


For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup [150 g] sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup [110 g] old unsalted European- style butter, cut into small pieces or shredded with a large box grater 
  • 1/4 cup [60 ml] ice-cold water 

For the topping:

  • 1 cup [120 g] sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup [50 g] brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp [85 g] unsalted butter, cut into cubes 
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 Tbsp whole milk

For the filling:

  • 3 lb [1.4 kg] mixed apples (such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Gala), peeled and sliced 1/4 in [6 mm] thick 
  • 4 Tbsp [55 g] unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp  freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1/2 cup [100 g] granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup [100 g] packed light brown sugar 
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten and mixed with 1 Tbsp water 


For the crust:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and granulated sugar. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or clean hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until all the butter pieces are pea-size or smaller.

  2. Drizzle in the water and use a spatula, wooden spoon, or clean hands to mix until a dough ball has formed. 

  3. Shape the dough into a disc 2 in [5 cm] thick, scraping up any lingering pieces from the bowl, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Transfer the disc to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. 

  4. Once chilled, lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pie dough into an 11 in[28 cm] circle. Transfer the dough to a 9 in [23 cm] pie pan, letting the excess hang over the edges. Roll the excess dough up to where you want your pie crust to end and crimp the dough. Transfer to the freezer and let chill for at least 15 minutes. 

For the topping:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C].  

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, sesame seeds, cardamom, and salt until combined. Add the butter and, using clean hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the dough until all the butter pieces are pea-size or smaller. Drizzle in the tahini and mix until combined (you’ll begin to see large crumb pieces coming together, which is exactly what you want). Add the milk and mix until the dough has turned into large crumbs. Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator to keep the topping mixture cold while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the apple slices, butter, and lemon juice. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt until combined. Add the flour mixture to the apple mixture and toss to coat all the apples.

  2. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and transfer the apple filling into the pie crust, spreading it in an even layer. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples. Brush the edges of the pie crust with the egg wash. 

  3. Loosely cover the pie with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until the crumb on top is browned. Remove the pie from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack. Let cool completely before serving. 

  4. Store leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days.