Sunday, November 1, 2020

Fall is apple pie time

HALLIE EPHRON: Fall in New England is apple time and it's time to make pie!
I used to be a purist, making my pie with Cortland apples picked at a local orchard. Sadly by the time a Cortland makes it way to a supermarket it tastes... blah, to use the technical term. Mealy-ish. So not the same beast as what you pluck from the tree.
So these days I buy the most dependable of varieties: Granny Smiths. Never mind that they usually come from halfway around the world, they're invariably hard and crisp and tart and perfect for pie making.

My apple pie recipe, however, is the same as always. It comes from my ancient (it was my mother's) Joy of Cooking, and you can see how time has worn its pages. (The receipt I use as a place mark is dated 2003.)

I follow the recipe, using half white and have light brown sugar. I do not add lemon or lemon zest because Granny Smiths pack plenty of tart tastiness. 

 

Invariably I forget to add the recipe's butter, but no one seems to notice. My crust, which once would have been made from scratch and later from a mix, now comes rolled and ready from the refrigerated section of the market. Easy peasy and close enough to the real thing. I sprinkle a ton of cinnamon sugar over the top before I bake it. ESSENTIAL!

I like to serve it warm with... nothing. Vanilla ice cream maybe if whoever's at the table requests it. But since it's just me and Jerry at the table now and for the foreseeable future, naked pie. Warmed a bit. Served on a plate with a fork.

Do you make apple pie? Crust from scratch or mix or ready to roll? Same recipe forever or... maybe you have somewhere, a great bakery that does it for you? Happy apple pie!

(Guess what we're having for breakfast!)

60 comments:

  1. Yes, we have apple pie [with a recipe from Joy of Cooking] . . . not as often as John would like, but making pie crust is not one of my favorite things . . . . now I’m going to try your ready-to-use crust sprinkled with cinnamon sugar [thank you!]

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  2. I make a "world-famous" apple pie. We live a mile from the orchard, so it's easy to get good Cortlands. Julia Child's food processor crust. Unpeeled apple slices piled as high as physics allows. Unmeasured cinnamon and white sugar sprinkled all over. Milk brushed on the top crust with more sugar sprinkled on. Yummy!

    Right now I don't have the use of my left thumb, so some of that easy pie crust is going on the shopping list for the next run. And he is already the apple cutter. Thanks for the inspiration, Hallie!

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    1. The hardest part is peeling the apples - no gadgets or shortcuts for that.

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    2. Hallie, when his wife made a batch of apple pies, my father peeled them with Star Frit apple peeler. He had great fun doing this. Maybe you don't have Star Frit products in the USA but there must be an other brand of peeler.

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    3. I googled it - looks like It needs it’s own cabinet for storing - or does it come apart?

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    4. I don't know. I've seen my father use it but never seen it otherwise.

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    5. Edith, I'd love to not peel the apples. Do you slice them really thin?

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    6. My husband gave me an attachment for my mixer that peels and slices the apples.

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  3. Apple pie for breakfast to celebrate our return to standard time! I'm swooning.

    Pre-made Trader Joe's crust, a mix of local orchard Braeburn and Gold Rush apples, I coat the crust top with beaten egg and a dusting of sugar. Brown and white sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg, and (this is new, from Cooked to Death: Cold Cut Files) drain the apples for 30-60 minutes. Retain 1/2 cup juice, add two tablespoons butter, microwave 5 minutes to reduce to a caramel-like mixture. Combine with apples, cornstarch, and lemon juice.

    I always had a soggy crust until I started draining the apples. Now, perfection! I use 10 apples in a large ceramic pie dish to make a mountain top pie.

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  4. Lovely memories of mother’s and her mother’s apple pies, reminding me of their putting the butter in. Of course, they did this and sugar and spices after baking ... unsealed unvented top crust carefully removed and replaced. Thank you, Hallie.

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    1. Maybe that’s because they forgot to put the butter in before baking like me!

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  5. I can smell that pie, Hallie! Earlier in the fall, my older nephew and his son read Amelia Bedelia Bakes A Pie, which includes a recipe for apple pie. Which they made together. I have photos to treasure :-)

    Pie crusts have always been my downfall. But I may just have to rethink those ready-made ones--especially with your tip, Ann, to drain the apples.....

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    1. Floral, when I used to try to make pie crust, the only practical solution was to throw the failures out and try again. The last attempt was close to 45 years ago. ;-)

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  6. Sorry, that was Margaret's tip to drain the apples!!

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  7. Hallie, great post today about one of my favorite things in all the world...APPLE PIE!

    I don't make pies myself. I have very limited baking experience and apple pies aren't one of those things that I've made.

    However, I'm an Olympic level apple pie eater! And like you, I don't like it with ice cream. Just give me a piece of the darn pie and let me dig in!

    While I haven't made apple pies, my mom did. I would help her at time by peeling the apples. And I did make homemade applesauce once myself.

    If you are looking for a good place to get apples, there's a place called Dowse Orchards in Sherborn, MA. My mom went there and they always had a wide selection.

    Also, like you I love Granny Smith apples. These days, if I want a pie, I have to do one of those store bought things. They are generally edible, sometimes even tasty, but nothing like a homemade pie.

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    1. Pie makers are forever grateful for ‘Olympic level’ eaters!!

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    2. Jay, how was your Halloween? Did you get any trick-or-treaters?

      I, too, appreciate the pie eaters! If you go to all of the effort to bake something that is labor intensive, like apple pie, then you need to have an enthusiastic apple pie eater to reward your efforts with yums and um-m-ms.

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    3. With the pre-made crusts, making apple pie is, forgive me, as easy as pie, Jay. You should try it. I think it's possible at even the most basic skill level, and you're a smart man. You can do it.

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    4. Hallie, all I have to do now is find a pie maker that wants an Olympic level eater.

      Judy, Halloween was incredibly boring really. Not that I was expecting a lot of people at the door but I got 30 kids total, which is about 10 percent of my highest ever total. I have so much candy left that I'm giving it out to whomever I can. The cute girl at the deli counter, the cute waitress and bartender at my favorite restaurant, the cute girl that makes my breakfast sandwich at Dunkin Donuts...I'm sensing a theme. But I'll give some to my co-workers too.

      Gigi, I may have basic skills and can maybe pass for being smart. But I think you underestimate my incredible ability to not want to put forth the kind of effort it would take to make a pie on my own. :D

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  8. I haven't made a pie in ages! My mother was known for her pies (she always had to have a slice of cheese with her apple pie - "a pie without the cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze." Now my so will make an occasional pie yesterday I made apple sauce. Cortlands from the orchard! Usually I make apple sauce when the apples are getting a bit old and never add sugar. Yesterday, with new apples the sauce was very tart so I had to add a little bit of sugar.

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    1. When I was feeding babies I routinely steamed and mashed apple slices - yum warm apple sauce (it was the 70s)

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    2. Absolutely yum warm applesauce! I used Rome Beauties (Washington state apples) w/ just a touch of honey and nutmeg. Also in the 70s. But not feeding babies, just me.

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  9. If I'm invited , I'll happily eat apple pie but I don't make them because I'm not a big fan of pie crust. I prefer to cook
    " croustade aux pommes ". I put pieces of apple up to one inch from the edge of a deep dish and cover with a mix of oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. This way there are more apples in a portion and it is delicious.

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    1. That’s a lot like the ‘crumble’ I make

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    2. That sounds fantastic! I will figure out how to try that… I could do that today! Hooray!

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    3. that's a dish I could make, Danielle: a crustless crumble-pie. yum!

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    4. Hugh makes apple crisp a lot - sounds the same!

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    5. I love crumbles and crisps, Danielle! The British are big on them, served with cream. Yum!

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  10. I don't make many pies but I love them! And Cortlands are my favorite apples. Big, round, and juicy. Yum!!! Thanks for the recipe, I need to buy some crust 'cause I stink at making my own.

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  11. Apple pie for breakfast!! So yummy!! Xxx

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  12. My mum gave me The Joy of Cooking and I continue to use it -- my Brownies come from that book (though I add in a couple of Ina Garten twists to up the ante a bit). I don't ever bake a pie, because a pie needs pastry and that's just too finicky for me. If we want pie, my neighbuorhoood bakery is just two blocks away -- too easy and very good!

    Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. We changed our clocks back last night. Did you?

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    1. I did. I woke up at six that became five. It will be a long day. And now at 11.20, I'm hungry and ready for my lunch.

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    2. danielle: these first days of the time change are so challenging in terms of sleeping and eating. I vote to stop the time change!

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    3. I was wondering why I needed to eat lunch at 11... mystery solved.

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  13. My husband loves grocery store apple pies, which always have doughy, tasteless crusts. It's ruined apple pie for me. Apple crisp, now, that's yummy, and Edith, I don't peel the apples, either.

    However, I do love blackberry and sour cherry pies, so those I'm happy to make. One year I made five blackberry pies for the freezer, up to the point where they were sealed into the crust. All I had to do was take them out, cut steam slits and bake them for an extra ten minutes over the normal time. They take up a lot of room, though, so this year I just froze the blackberries themselves.

    And we just planted two sour cherry trees. I'm so excited, and am dreaming of cherry pies that don't require a trip to northern Michigan!

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    1. Karen, I'm not a big sweet eater, but I would swoon for your blackberry and cherry pies...

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    2. Cherry pie: the ultimate! I've never found fresh pie cherries here in New England.

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  14. My grandmother baked pies. I still have a pie plate that she used and I use it often. I always think of her when I bake pies.

    In my apple pies, I use a mixture of 3 or 4 types of apples. Always use Granny Smiths, Cortlands and macs. Sometimes I will use another variety as well. Our grocery store carries farm fresh apples from local farms, so in autumn, I know they are going to be pretty good. I use instant tapioca to thicken the juice and a bit less sugar than the recipe calls for. My crust is all butter, homemade and I glaze it with milk, white sugar and cinnamon. I have not used brown sugar in my apple pie but will try some next time. Always dot with butter if I don't forget to do it.

    My other go-to apple recipe is apple crisp. I use a blueberry crisp recipe from Martha Stuart as my base, but then have made some adjustments to that, too.

    I will be checking out everyone's suggestions and recipes to try out in my next apple pie.

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    1. Hallie might relate to this: I have an old (I mean, borderline antique) Knotts Berry Farm pie pan! I loved when we would stop by there on our way home from the beach (pre-freeway days) and pick up a boysenberry pie. Heavenly.

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  15. I make pies from time to time: apple, mincemeat, pumpkin, peach, whatever I'm in the mood for. Warren was the crust-maker in our house, but after he died I started using those rolled up crusts and found I liked them just as well. I received the blessing of a great old-style Texas cook when I brought a pie to a communal Thanksgiving and she asked how I made the crust. As I stammered out an apology for using pre-made, she said, "Oh, honey, I switched to those things years ago. I never make crust anymore." So there. Wisdom from the font.

    I use a mix of Granny Smith and Braeburn in my apple pies, peel the apples, and cut them very small. Warren always swore that finely cut apples were the secret to a better-tasting pie and I'm happy to honor his memory that way.

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    1. I also like very small pieces of apples because they become "compot-y" when cooked . I prefer well cooked apples and not big non-cooked pieces that we find in commercial pies.

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    2. Small pieces. I've never tried that. Net time...

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  16. Since mom was the person who stayed home to take care of everyone's children, her sisters expected her to make pie crust from scratch for holiday dinners. When she started using the rolled out dough, they gave her a bad time. She finally shut them up by pointing out that if and when they started making pies from scratch, instead of going to that bakery down the street, then she might start making the crust from scratch again. Not another word was said about pies crusts or any other shortcuts that she used to feed the family for holidays.

    My apple pies are in August when our local apples are available. Yes, I use store bought rolled out crust and don't even apologize about it. If it's not August, I use a combination of apples, my only requirement is that they are crisp and won't turn to mush when baked. I like slices of apples, not chunks, not finely diced, slices and piled a bit higher than the pie plate. I just sprinkle the sugar, a bit of cinnamon and a bit less nutmeg over the apples, dot with butter, stick the top on top, seal, cut some vents and bake. Sometimes I sprinkle sugar on the top crust, sometimes I don't. Base recipe for my fruit pie fillings is from my old Good Housekeeping Cookbook from WW2.

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    1. Yay Good Housekeeping!
      Why don't I like nutmeg? I wonder if it's like aversion to cilantro--genetic.

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  17. Yum! Love apple pie.

    Do you have a recipe for the crust?

    Diana

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    1. Packaged ready to roll Pillsbury

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    2. thanks! I'll see if they have a Gluten Free Dairy Free version.

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  18. I rarely make pies, mostly because I dislike making the pastry. Maybe it's time to go back to those rolled up ones in the store -- on the list they go. And Hallie, I always forget the butter too. It must not make much difference. The last pie I made was strawberry rhubarb, a summer favorite. We live in apple country. My favorite are something called thirty ounce. They are huge, takes maybe three to make a big pie.

    However Julie has all but stopped eating any sort of dessert. I made ciabatta for her birthday this year! But we will have a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and little mince pies at Christmas. Maybe I should make "croustade aux pommes" a la Danielle. Merci beaucoup!

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  19. Hallie, you are wicked! Now I'm craving apple pie! Gigi has given me a couple of lovely handmade pie dishes that deserve to be brought out and used. (Although in our group get-togethers, she is the designated apple pie baker!)

    Back in my deep crunchy-granola days, I made whole wheat pie crust in the food processor, and I must say it was delish. These days on the rare occasions when I am moved to make a pie, I'll just use the pre-rolled and they're fine. I do not like ice cream on my apple pie! Give me a slice of sharp cheddar on warm apple pie any day. Yum.

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  20. My mother loved apple pie with sharp cheddar cheese for breakfast.

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  21. I use a mixture of apples from the orchard- Haralson’s, Courtlands, Honeycrisp, and then Granny Smith’s from the store. I also make a fabulous flaky homemade pie crust! We’ve always made the one in the Better Homes & Garden cookbook that calls for shortening. Very flaky and tender! I used to mound up the raw apple slices (sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg) in the crust but then saw a tip to cook them 1st which reduces the liquid and you don’t get the void under the top crust. Plus, cooking the apples beforehand avoids the soggy crust.

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