Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Classic Apple Pie

In my last post, I talked about how Peter and I went apple picking at Oak Glen with our friends Trevor and Laurie. It was awesome! The farms offer apple cider tasting, and they let you apple taste before you decide which type of apple you want to go get. The people there were SUPER friendly and helpful too; they taught me about ALL the different varieties of apples as I tasted each one. Tasting all of them at once really allowed me to tell which ones were sweet, firm, tart, strong, mushy, mild etc. 

My goal was to find out which was the best baking apple to make an apple pie. I will share with you what I learned; for baking, you want...
  1. strong 'apple-y' tasting apple rather than a sweet or mild tasting one. (that's literally the way they described the flavor to us, haha)...because, baking innately makes the flavor to become more mild, so if you started with an already mild flavored apple, your pie would definitely lack it's full flavor potential. 
  2. a tart apple rather than a super sweet one...because you want the sweet and tart balance in a fruit pie. If the apple is super sweet, like say a honeycrisp (which seems to be the crowd pleaser of eating apples), and then you add sugar to make it into a pie, it will be sickly sweet. 
  3. a firm crispy apple rather than a soft one...because, once cooked, the apples soften and the ones that already started off soft then bake to become too apple-saucey. 

In the end, the farmers helped us narrow it down to 2 different varieties: 'Spartan' apples and 'Pippin' apples. Both for their STRONG apple-y flavor, and for their firmness. Somehow we also got talked into 
buying like 20 lbs of apples! Laurie and I came home and got straight to work :)
(The red colorful ones are the Spartans, and the green ones are the Pippins)

Recipe: (makes one pie):
  • You can't really go wrong with an apple pie, so you don't really need a recipe. In fact, I didn't even measure the ingredients that I put into my pie filling. Just use these measurements as a general guide, but you can just eye-ball it to put as much or as little of each as you desire and as your apples call for. For example, sweeter apples need less sugar; some people don't like cinnamon or like more cinnamon; some apples are so tart that no lemon is necessary; etc.
  • 1 batch of Pie Dough
  • 12 medium Apples
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons AP Flour
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 generous teaspoon Cinnamon
  • I didn't do this, but traditionally you slice a few Tablespoons of butter over the top of the apples if you would like to do it that way. 

Start by baking your pie dough. Then get your apple filling ready while the dough is refrigerating:

Peel, core, and slice your apples. 

Then toss with about 2 Tbsps flour, 2 Tbsps lemon juice, 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want your pie and how sweet or tart the apples already are), and lastly a generous teaspoon of cinnamon. Toss together in a large bowl using your hands. (If your bowl is not big enough, just divide it into 2 batches :)

Fill your chilled pie shell with your apple mix. Firmly press all the apples into the shell and make it as compact as possible:
(This is when you would sprinkle a few tablespoons of cold, diced butter over the top of the apples before you put the crust over it all. I didn't do this, but you are certainly welcome to partake in the tradition.)

Drape the top-crust dough over your pie. Again, press down as you lift the edges to release air pockets. As the pie bakes, the fruit shrinks, and you don't want an air gap between the apples and the crust:
Trim off the extra dough while still leaving a 1 inch overhang. Tuck that 1 inch of dough around the pie underneath the edges and press tightly to seal all the way around. 

With a knife, cut a couple slits into the top crust so that hot air can release while baking. Sprinkle the top of the pie with a little extra sugar:

The pie crust edges cook and brown very quickly, so protect it with a pie shield or foil for the first 20 minutes of baking:

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes with crust edges protected, then remove foil or shield, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes: 

Let the pie cool when it comes out of the oven. If you try to cut it and serve it right away, the filling will run out of the pie and fill the pie dish. Let it sit to cool and congeal before cutting.

Look at all those lovely layers of tasty cinnamony-sugary apples!

They're hard to see in the pictures above, but you can find the cute little cutouts that I have on the top of my pie at Williams-Sonoma. 

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