Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Classic Apple Pie

Despite the awesome wonder that is National Novel Writing Month--some days good, some days not so much, but well ahead of schedule right now--and the occasional case of the blahs, I have still been doing a bit of cooking. One does have to eat, and if one doesn't like takeout or macaroni and cheese from a box all that often, one had best do it oneself. And sometimes one must make things that are not just "something to eat" but fun.

I should make a note here, I do not actually like apple pie. I was raised, not by wolves, but by people whose culinary interest and abilities almost invariably involved cans of... things. Fresh fruit was not a frequent visitor, and it was unheard of in desserts, which usually meant either ice cream or store-brand sandwich cookies. Every fall we went apple picking with my grandparents, and for months afterward would grab one from the bushel out in the garage during visits, but I don't recall her making any pies; chocolate cake was her forte. I was only vaguely aware that there were any kinds of apples other than Red Delicious. (Sometimes I wonder if all of this might be considered grounds for a lawsuit.) The end result of all of this is that I have a sad underappreciation of fruit-based desserts.

My husband, who was raised by people who know a thing or two about food, and who has deep, lifelong ties to New England, does like apple pie. About once every two years I make him one, always using the same recipe, from one of the first cookbooks I went out and bought on my own (I think from "The Good Cook," which even now, years after I left, regularly sends me pathetic emails begging me to renew membership, although they still think my name is spelled Revecca). The book in question is Mrs. Fields Cookie Book and my copy is now falling apart. Here is the pie in question, with recipe to follow:

3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 c salted butter, chilled
6-8 Tbsp ice water

6 large Granny Smith (or baking apple of your choice), peeled and thinly sliced, equaling about four cups
1 c white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 salted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp white sugar

  1. Whisk flour and lemon zest together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and blend until dough can be gathered into a ball. (You can use a food processor for all of the above, but be careful not to overprocess. The mistake I normally make is not adding enough water.) Divide in half, flatten into disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill one hour or until firm.
  2. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add apples and toss until dry ingredients coat the apples completely. 
  3. Preheat oven to 400F.
  4. On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one piece of the dough out into an 11-inch circle. Plate in a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang.
  5. Spoon in apple filling and place butter pieces on top.
  6. Roll out the second piece of dough into a 10-inch circle. Place on top of filling. Crimp the layers together ("decoratively" she says--hah).
  7. Brush top with egg wash, cut steam slits in top crust, and sprinkle with sugar. 
  8. Place pie on center rack of oven, bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F. Bake an additional 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on a rack.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy. Perhaps in between word-bursts I will find time to sit down and do some planning for the holidays. I am normally sort of hyper about this stuff--here it is, less than two weeks to Thanksgiving, and I don't even know who's coming! I haven't started planning my Christmas baking, let alone done any, y'know, actual baking. Next week I have to do an office birthday cake, and haven't figured out what to do for that, either, though I'm thinking a trial of Tish Boyle's Cake Book is long overdue.


Anonymous said...

It was delicious and I devoured the entire thing over the course of three days.


Clara Gillow Clark said...

Pies are my forte, so I read this with interest. Apple pie is our favorite here, but we also love strawberry-rhubarb, wild blackberry, raspberry-cherry, wild huckleberry, pumpkin, coconut custard. . .

Just wondering how many versions of apple pie recipes we might get if we asked all the twitter writers for their favorite apple pie recipe. A book of pie recipes? Sounds yummy to me!

RJS said...

That's a great idea! Could be tons of fun to see what everyone comes up with. :)