Welcome to an off-season apple pie chock-full of apples. The glitch is, three weeks before summer apples (a fall delight) aren't the choice fruit on the South Shore. So, to enjoy a semi-homemade double-crust pie with Granny Smith apples, I paid the price per apple. I had my heart set on baking mom's all-American favorite pie despite that it's odd to make in late spring.
Blame it on the film "Sleeping with the Enemy." Laura, played by Julia Roberts, is a woman in a bad marriage and makes her escape, thanks to her plan, and swims away to freedom. Moving to Cedar Falls, Iowa, she rents a homey house with an earthy feel, complete with comfy furniture, wooden floors, flowers, yards and fruit trees. In one scene, Laura is caught by her neighbor while she's picking apples from his tree to make a homemade pie. After a banter, he ends up giving the green apples back with the agreement to bake and share a pie. The other night, when I watched this movie, it was a done deal. I was hooked on baking an apple pie, despite the fact that we're edging toward summer, the season of berries, not apples. I simply had to beg, borrow, steal green apples and put them to work like Laura did.
While making an apple pie is an autumn feat, it's kind of cool to rebel and do it in the springtime before the temps get too hot in the kitchen. Imagine this Tahoe scenario: My storm window covers are removed, screened windows were open. I was wearing the same pale pink T-shirt and blue jeans that the movie character wore while singing the lyrics to the tune "Brown Eyed Girl," by Van Morrison, while it was played in the happy part of the chick flick. Once the pie was in the oven, the sweet scent of cinnamon and apples filled my rustic but cozy cabin. Sometimes, it's fun to break the rules, be it pancakes for dinner or cold pizza for a snack, especially when the blue jays on South Shore are flaunting their colors and my neighbor's yellow wildflowers are making me smile.
Springtime Apple Pie
5 fresh Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into small wedges
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup sage (or clover) honey
3-4 tablespoons unbleached white whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Mediterranean-style butter
2 premium deep-dish store-bought pie crusts
Organic 2 percent reduced-fat milk
Cinnamon and sugar mixture
Place apples in a bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. In another bowl, combine flour, spices, and honey. Mix with fruit and add small piece of butter. Place in one piecrust; place the other piecrust on top. Flute edges. Spread milk to smooth uneven or broken pieces of crust. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Bake pie in a 350-degree oven for about 70 minutes, till apples are tender and bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool. Garnish with slices of raw apples. Serves 8-10.
There's something rebellious about making an apple pie on a spring day. Granny Smith tart gems are a light spring-ish green in color and often the choice apple in pie baking. Adding a light-colored honey made from a variety of sage plants growing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is another perk. Sage honey is touted for its mild, delicate flavor and is a nice change from using orange blossom or clover honey. Taking the creation out of the oven, enjoying the aroma, and anticipating the first slice is worth the $1.99 per pound that I paid for these off-season apples.
Like some baker-esses, I did leave the skins on for extra texture, flavor, and nutrients. To go against the grain and celebrate, I woke up yesterday morning to a piece of cold apple pie with flaky crust and a large cup of hot French Vanilla coffee. (I was enjoying the news that my forthcoming book on coffee will be offered by popular book clubs.) It felt like fall, my favorite season, with a taste of spring. Baking an apple pie with honey in the spring feels cool and Zen-like. No regrets.
Motto: Following your passion despite tradition is worth every cent. How can you put a price on lasting memories of the last fresh apple pie of the season?
- Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. "The Healing Powers of Coffee" and "Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails" will be released this summer. Her website is www.calorey.com.