Apple Pie with Streusel Topping (From the the Play ‘Pie in the Sky’)

by Dorothy Reinhold on May 29, 2017

Print This Post Print This Post Classic Apple Pie with Streusel Topping. Perfectly sweetened, just enough cinnamon, and a good story to go with it.

Have you ever gotten a recipe from going to the theater?

I did last weekend, and it’s a great one! I went to see the world premiere of a comedy called “Pie in the Sky,” by Lawrence Thelan, at the Victory Theatre in Burbank, California.

Mama's Apple Pie with Streusel ToppingIt’s a wonderful, simple, small play about the relationship between an 85-year-old mother and her 65-year-old daughter. During the course of their 90-minute early-morning kitchen conversation that constitutes the play, they bake an actual pie — they call it Mama’s Apple Pie. I am calling it Apple Pie with Streusel Topping, because the streusel plays such an important role.

This mother and daughter can drive each other crazy (sound familiar to you?), as mama (K Callan, in the blue below) instructs Dory (Laurie O’Brien) in the exacting art of pie-making. Peeling must be just so…

Pie-in-the-Sky-at the Victory Theatre…the crust pressed into a larger pan so it is thinner, each step in the recipe prepared ahead of time and set aside (why? because she said so!)…

cooked-apples-ready for the crust…and the apple pie secret (cooking the apples in a skillet before settling them in the crust) is revealed.

So are old family secrets, relationships and surprising events.

Set for Pie in the Sky play at the Victory TheatreThe set is a real kitchen with a working stove, oven and sink, and as the play’s end nears, the smell of apples and cinnamon wafting throughout the theater is intoxicating.

Let’s listen as artistic director Tom Ormeny takes us behind the scenes:

“Our play is a theatrical haiku — one location, real time, real event of something that is made from scratch, the pie. When we get to our third act in life, the finish looms with more meaning, significance and purpose. What is our legacy? What can we leave for the ones we love that will have true meaning in their lives? How can we be the people we always hoped we’d have the courage and wisdom to be? Will we leave anything better than it was before? It is a life quandary and moral quandary most of us won’t escape. It’s a good thing that this production answers with a loving comedy of the most primal of relationships, a mother and daughter: Laugh, enjoy, and have a piece of pie!”

Mama's Apple Pie from Pie-in-the-sky-at the Victory TheatreAnd guess what? When the play is over, they serve that fragrant pie to the audience!

We made sure to get a piece.

Apple Pie with Streusel Topping

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: Serves 8-10

Apple Pie with Streusel Topping

Classic Apple Pie with Streusel Topping. Perfectly sweetened, just enough cinnamon, and a good story to go with it. "In one half hour, you will have the most delectable apple pie your tongue has ever experienced." -- playwright Lawrence Thelen


  • 9-inch store-bought frozen deep-dish pie crust
  • .
  • Crumb Topping
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup well packed brown sugar
  • Good sprinkling of cinnamon
  • .
  • Flour & Sugar Mixture
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup well packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (spread it around)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash of salt
  • .
  • 8 cups peeled and cored apples each cut into 6 slices (6-8 small apples)
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter


  1. Transfer the pie crust from the tinfoil pan to the CENTER of a 10-inch glass pie dish. Set aside to thaw.
  2. Make the crumb topping: In a bowl, mash butter, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together to resemble crumbs and then set aside.
  3. Make flour & sugar mix: In a bowl, stir ingredients together until all one color (beige) and set aside.
  4. Prepare the apples: Into a bowl, peel, core and slice a few apple slices, stir and cover well with the flour & sugar mixture as you go. Once all are cut and covered, set the apple bowl aside.
  5. Making the pie: Squoosh the pie crust thinly to fit the pan (you can use your fingers to do this), and then put the crust in the freezer for exactly 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 425F degrees.
  6. Put 2 tablespoons softened butter into a large skillet over medium heat. When butter melts, empty the bowl of sugared apples on top of the butter, and cook for exactly 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take pie crust from the freezer and put in the hot oven for the same 5 minutes you are cooking the apples.
  7. When timer rings for the 5-minutes of the pie crust in the oven, remove pie crust from oven and pour apples from the skillet into the pie crust. Make sure apples form a flat surface as a base for the crumb topping. Pour crumb topping onto apples, making sure to cover all the apples, otherwise apples may burn.
  8. Return the pie to the oven, and set the timer for EXACTLY 30 minutes.
  9. "In one half hour, you will have the most delectable apple pie your tongue has ever experienced," -- playwright Lawrence Thelen.
  10. Serves 8-10, depending on slice size. (Or 20 if you give lots of people in the theater a little taste!)


Recipe source: Lawrence Thelen from his play "Pie in the Sky."

areyoupinningIf you like this recipe and want to save it, pin it using the image below to your Pinterest board. 

Apple Pie with Streusel Topping on











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