Concord grapes have one of the most piercing, intense flavors in the entire fruit kingdom, and until a genius invents a seedless variety, I will endure the tedium of peeling them. It’s more than worth it for this pie, which features apples and Concord grapes. Both are harbingers of fall at the farmers’ market, and like most fruit that grows in the same season and in the same climate, grapes and apples pair extremely well together. This pie, topped with an earthy buckwheat crumble, might be one of my favorite flavor combinations ever.
*To simplify this recipe considerably, skip the process of making and parbaking the Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough and turn this pie into a crumble. Follow all the same directions, baking it in a shallow 2-quart baking dish topped with the crumble.
Special Equipment: 9-inch pie plate, pie weights or 4 cups dried beans or rice (for parbaking)
- DO AHEAD The dough, wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated, will keep up to 3 days or can be frozen up to 2 months (place in a resealable plastic bag before freezing). Let the frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. The par- or fully baked crust, covered and stored at room temperature, will keep for 1 day.
- Prepare the ice water and slice some of the butter: Fill a 1-cup liquid measure with ice water and refrigerate it while you assemble the pie dough. Cut a 5 tablespoon block of the butter (2.5 oz / 71g) crosswise into ⅛-inchthick slices (so you have lots of thin butter squares) and refrigerate. Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt to combine.
- Work the butter into the dry ingredients: Cut the remaining 5 tablespoons butter (2.5 oz / 71g) into ½-inch cubes and toss in the flour mixture to coat.  Quickly and firmly use your fingertips to smash the butter pieces into the flour, flattening them and working into smaller bits until the largest pieces are no bigger than a pea. 2 [2,3] Remove the butter slices from the refrigerator, add them to the flour mixture, toss to coat, then flatten between your thumbs and fingertips into thin sheets, letting them break apart if that’s what they want to do. Once you’ve worked in all the butter, you should have a very coarse, slightly yellowed mixture filled with some larger pieces of butter and some very small bits.
- Bring the dough together:  Slowly drizzle 5 tablespoons of the ice water (avoiding any ice) into the mixture, tossing constantly with a fork to incorporate.  Switch to your hands and toss the mixture several times until shaggy pieces of dough form, then knead the mixture inside the bowl a few times to bring it together (the dough will look very clumpy and dry, with loose bits). Line the work surface with a sheet of plastic wrap, then transfer any large clumps of dough to the plastic.  Tossing again with a fork, drizzle more ice water 1 teaspoon at a time into the bowl with the remaining flour mixture until only a few dry spots remain, then knead with your hands to bring it together into a dough. Transfer the last bits of dough to the plastic wrap.
- Wrap and chill the dough:  Pat the dough into a ¾-inch-thick square or rectangle. [8,9] Wrap tightly in the plastic, pressing out any air, and press down on the dough with the heel of your hand to flatten it further and force it into the corners of the plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours. The pie dough is technically ready to use at this point, but proceed through the next step, which will make it extra flaky. Roll out and fold the dough: Let the dough sit on the counter for 5 minutes to soften slightly.
- Unwrap it and place on a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to beat the dough all across the surface to make it more pliable.  Dust the top and underside of the dough with more flour, then roll it out, dusting with more flour as needed, into a rectangle that’s about three times longer than it is wide and between ¼ and ½ inch thick. 3 [11,12] Fold the dough in thirds like a letter (this makes more butter layers, which create a flaky texture), then wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate the dough until it’s relaxed, at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. It’s now ready to use. If the recipe calls for a lined pie plate, a parbaked crust, or a fully baked crust, follow the directions below. If baking, preheat the oven and prepare a baking sheet: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside
- Line a 9-inch pie plate: Let the pie dough sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to soften slightly, then beat it across the surface again with a rolling pin to make it more pliable.  Dust the top and underside of the dough with more flour, then roll it out, dusting with more flour as needed, into a 13-inch round that’s about ⅛ inch thick. Roll the pastry onto the rolling pin. [14,15] Unroll the round onto a 9-inch pie plate, preferably glass, letting the pastry slump gently down the sides into the bottom. Firmly press the pastry into the bottom and up the sides of the plate, ensuring contact everywhere and taking care not to stretch it. 4  Use scissors to trim around the edge of the pastry, leaving a ½-inch overhang (discard the scraps).  Tuck the overhang underneath itself all the way around so you have a lip of double-thick pastry resting just around the rim of the pie plate. 
- Press down firmly around the rim to seal, then crimp the crust all the way around, using the thumb of one hand and the thumb and forefinger of the other, flouring your fingers if needed to prevent sticking. Instead of a crimp, you can also use the tines of a fork to create hash marks around the rim.
- Bake the weighted crust: Freeze the lined pie plate until the dough is very firm, about 10 minutes, then prick the bottom of the pastry in several places with a fork to prevent the crust from puffing up. Line the inside of the pie plate with two pieces of foil, arranged perpendicularly, so the overhang of the foil completely covers the edge of the crust. Fill the pie plate with pie weights, dried beans, or rice and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until the edge of the crust is set and starting to turn golden when you peek under the foil, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the plate from the oven and carefully lift the foil and pie weights out of the crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
- To par- or fully bake the crust: Return the pan to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown all over, another 20 to 25 minutes for a parbaked crust, or until deep golden brown all over, 10 to 15 minutes longer, for a fully baked crust. Set the crust aside to cool.
- Make the crumble: In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add the butter and toss to coat, then use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture until no visible pieces of butter or floury spots remain. It should naturally clump together and hold its shape when squeezed. Cover and refrigerate the crumble until ready to use.
- Make the apple mixture: In a large bowl, toss together the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until the apples are evenly coated. Set the mixture aside and allow the apples to release their juices while you prepare the grape mixture.
- Peel and cook down the Concord grapes:*** Working over a small saucepan, grasp one grape at a time and squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger, stem end out, to pop the soft flesh into the saucepan, leaving the skin behind. Reserve the empty grape skins in a medium bowl. Place the saucepan of flesh over medium-low heat. Bring it to a simmer and cook, occasionally mashing the grapes against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon, until the mixture is pulpy and broken down and the seeds are free-floating around the saucepan, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool slightly. *** Please don’t skip this part! It may seem unreasonably fussy to peel the grapes, but if you were to just cook down the whole grapes, you’d end up straining out the skins and therefore much of their flavor (not to mention all the color). I tested it this way to see if I could avoid peeling, and the result just doesn’t compare.
- Strain the flesh and combine with the skins and sugar: Set a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl with the reserved grape skins. Add the pulp to the sieve and press and scrape with a flexible spatula to force the pulp into the bowl below, leaving only the seeds behind. Transfer the pulp and grape skin mixture back to the same saucepan (discard seeds). Add the granulated sugar. Reduce the apple juices: Pour any juices that have accumulated in the bowl with the apple mixture into the saucepan with the grape skin mixture and bring to a brisk simmer over medium heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture starts to look syrupy and is reduced by about one-third, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Make a slurry and activate the cornstarch: Place the cornstarch in a small bowl and spoon 3 tablespoons of the hot grape mixture into the bowl. Stir with a fork until smooth, then whisk into the saucepan. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring to a simmer again. Cook, whisking often, until the mixture has thickened, about 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven and prepare the pan: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
- Mix the filling and fill the pie: Pour the warm grape mixture over the apples and fold with a flexible spatula until all the apples are coated. Transfer half the mixture to the pie crust, arranging the apple slices so they fill in all the nooks and crannies around the bottom of the crust, then scrape the remaining filling on top, mounding it in the center.
- Pack on the crumble topping: Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples. It will seem like a lot, but really pack all of it onto the apples and press firmly so it stays in place—packing the topping not only helps compress the filling and reduce air pockets, but it also forms the crumble into a solid layer that bakes into a firm lid and slices cleanly.
- Tent with foil and bake: Place the pie on the lined baking sheet and loosely tent the top with a piece of foil (this will prevent it from darkening too quickly). Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the pie and continue to bake until the crumble topping is firm and browned and the juices are thick and bubbling around the sides, another 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the pie cool for at least 2 hours.
- Serve: Cut the pie into slices and serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.
Reprinted from Dessert Person. Copyright © 2020 by Claire Saffitz. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Alex Lau. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House