Perfect pie for autumn
It’s time for pie chock-full with fall fruit. A double-crust apple pie is an old-fashioned version that I enjoyed as a kid. My mother turned to Granny Smith apples for the fruit and made the crust from scratch — something I resist to do. However, I did spend extra time fine-tuning the filling by mixing fresh apples (from our local grocery stores) to using simple ingredients, including lemon juice and cinnamon, to keep it true to its roots. While the crust was a ready-made premium kind found in the frozen foods aisle, I did give it my thumb prints on the edges for a nice homemade look.
As history tells it, the apple pie has roots from the English and goes way back in time to the 1600s. There are dozens of types of apple pie. I’ve made apple pies while living at Tahoe, and this is one of best. In the 21st century, all-American recipes for apple pie often are a round concoction, and sometimes have a lattice top that is easy on the eyes. I almost turned to apple cake or apple cobbler but I held my ground and put together this dish with dough, apples, sugar and spices.
This week now that I’ve settled in from my recent trip to Canada, I’ve been busy booking book signings at Barnes and Noble bookstores. A few years ago, I recall on discussion-signing at the Seattle store. The flight was a surprise. It was my first commuter plane ride; the rough air was the kind you fasten your seatbelt and become best friends with the person next to you. But the hotel room was bliss and my reward. After the event, I recall escaping to Pike Place Market overlooking the waterfront in Seattle. I mingled with craftspeople and merchants, sipped coffee and ate chocolate. Back in my room, once cozy and enjoyed a view of the city, I ordered a Chef’s salad, tea, and slice of apple pie for comfort’s sake. I savored half for dessert; enjoyed the rest for breakfast with hot coffee. Apple pie is comfort food at any age and apples are a fall delight.
Mixed Apple Pie
5-7 cups of apples, washed, peeled, sliced thinly (mostly Granny Smith, a few Fuji, and one Honeycrisp)
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup white sugar (extra for topping)
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons European style butter, melted
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon (extra for topping)
½ teaspoon orange rind
2 store-bought premium pie crusts
1⁄8 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk
In a large bowl, pour cold water and lemon juice into it. Slice apples and place in bowl. Place in fridge. In another bowl, combine flour, sugars, and spices. Add melted butter. Mix chilled apples into dry ingredients. Remove pie crusts from freezer. Follow package directions for a fruit pie. Place apple mixture into one pie crust. Top with orange rind. Turn the other pie crust upside down and run hot water on the tin pan. Place dough on top of apple filled crust. Rub milk on top. Flute edges with your thumb to give it a rustic appeal. Sprinkle top with sugar and cinnamon. Place on a large piece of foil so you can cover edges. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or till crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbly. Cool. Makes 10-12 servings. *Using more apples will give you a picturesque pie.
It’s tempting to slice a piece of hot apple pie, but it’s best to let it set. Place in the fridge for a few hours. Slice and serve a perfect cut piece. A dusting of confectioner’s sugar topped with finely chopped walnuts is heavenly. Also, a piece of sharp cheddar cheese melted on top is hearty. Or, drizzle caramel sauce on a slice of warmed up pie. Not to forget a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream will make this apple pie stay true to its American history of apple pie ala mode. Any way you prepare it, it’ll bring a smile to your face and you’ll be happy to dish it up in the sierras during the season of content.
Motto: Old-fashioned desserts don’t need much tweaking. They’re as good as it gets.
— 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. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.