Apple Pie with Chinese Five Spice & Hazelnut Crumb Topping

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A few things set this apple pie apart. Sauteing the apples in browned butter, then letting them cook down with sugar, a touch of lemon juice and Chinese five spice results in a filling reminiscent of caramel apples. Chinese five spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns, and it lends the filling a bright note. You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each of ground ginger and cloves. Because the filling is cooked, this recipe calls for blind-baking the crust. You can use blind baking beans or dried beans (which you can cool after baking and reuse for future blind-baking). A sprinkling of crumb topping adds extra texture and sweetness.

Apple Pie with Chinese Five Spice & Hazelnut Crumb Topping

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 8

Apple Pie with Chinese Five Spice & Hazelnut Crumb Topping


  1. Filling:
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 2-1/2 pounds sweet, firm apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  4. 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  5. 1/4 cup water
  6. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  7. 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  8. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  9. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  10. Topping:
  11. 1/2 cup white whole wheat pastry flour
  12. 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  13. 1/3 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts OR almonds
  14. 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  15. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  16. 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  17. Remaining Ingredient:
  18. 1/2 recipe Toasted Nut Pastry Dough, chilled
  19. Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare filling, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add butter to pan, and cook 2 minutes or until browned (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn). Add apples and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 7 minutes or until apples are tender but not mushy, stirring occasionally.

Combine water and cornstarch, stirring to form a smooth slurry. Add to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Add remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, five spice, lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook 3-5 minutes or until liquid is thickened.

While filling cooks, prepare the topping. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon salt) in a medium bowl, rubbing them together with your fingers until they form coarse crumbs. Add orange juice, tossing with a fork. Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Place dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until plastic can be removed. Discard top sheet of plastic. Place dough, plastic side up, in a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate (not deep dish) coated with cooking spray. Remove plastic wrap, allowing ends of dough to extend over sides of pie plate. Trim edges of dough. Prick bottom of dough with a fork. Line bottom of dough with a 12-inch-square piece of parchment paper. Fill with dried beans and blind baking beans. Bake 10 minutes. Remove baking beans and parchment. Bake an additional 7 minutes or until crust looks set.

Scrape filling into crust. Cover with topping. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

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  • Jamie

    I love the idea of using Chinese Five Spice to the apple pie. I have used a dash of it on top of homemade applesauce before and can’t believe I have never made the connection of using it in apple pie. Yum!

  • Alison Ashton

    Isn’t it cool? That was Lia’s idea, and I confess I was a little skeptical before I tried it. But it adds wonderful bright, warm, spicy flavor to the filling! I’m a convert!

  • Kathryn

    Hey! Just stopping by to let you know we’re giving away a signed Sandra Lee cookbook with 1,001 recipes over at Chew on That! We’d love for you to enter! The giveaway ends on Halloween, so hurry over! :)

  • Lia Huber

    Thanks for stopping by, Kathryn. I have to admit, though, around here semi-homemade is more likely to mean using frozen peas or seafood or canned tomatoes than it is a box mix ;-).

  • JehanP

    I love cooking with 5 spice but never thought about using it in desserts yet I can see it working in this recipe. Kudos!

  • leslie

    The topping recipe is wrong. Adding 1/3 cup of orange juice makes a gloppy mess. Perhaps you meant a teaspoon or tablespoon of orange juice?

  • Alison Ashton

    Oh, my, Leslie, I’m so sorry about that. I revisited my testing notes & just remade the topping to double-check, and yes, indeed, it should be 1 T of OJ. Thank you for letting us know, so I can correct it, pronto! I hope you had enough on hand to remake it. Many apologies…

  • Chi Chi

    I’m making this for Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing….Although, I will be honest and let you know that due to limited counter space and an overall fear of making pie dough, I will be using store bought dough (yikes!!). : )

  • Laura

    I made a vegan version for Thanksgiving! (

    I think I’ll try it with a little more sugar and a crust instead of the crumble topping next time.