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In which our hero seeks the forgiveness of her colleagues and readers for wildly tardy blog post.
Augh! I love apple pie, and I love making apple pie and I was really looking forward to this day! Sadly, however, I ended up working very very late last night and, in the course of that work, completely forgot about my blog until this morning. So terrible. That is why you have to make do with the picture of Apple Blackberry pie (above) instead of true Apple Pie – because, funny about that, I’m at work and I don’t tend to keep pictures of my creations at work. This was just a fluke.
In any event, this post will be short (unusual for me). It goes like this:
Apple Pie is the quintessential American dessert. As the saying goes, “American as Apple Pie.” Of course, as with many patriotic sayings, there may be some hyperbole involved. Check out this link for an interesting discussion on the history of apple pie and whether Americans have any exclusive claim to the dish.
I believe that the best apple pie is a deep dish apple crumble pie. That’s the apple pie I like to make. I will share the recipe with you with the caveat that I’ve been making it for many many years which means that I long ago stopped measuring anything (if I ever did). First of all, the pastry. I follow the recipe, generally, on the back of the Fluffo box. I told you about this in a previous post.
1. Use tart apples of the firm flesh variety – granny smith, gravenstein, mutsu, pink lady, fiesta, paula red.
2. Peel them and slice them paper thin. You can even cut the paper thin slices in half.
3. Toss in a bowl with lots of cinnamon, some brown sugar, some lemon juice, some nutmeg, some cornstarch or flour and some heavy cream.
4. Roll out your pastry and place in a deep dish pie plate, making nice fluted edges if you want.
5. Dump your apple mixture into the pastry. Dot the apples with pats of butter.
6. Top with crumble topping which you make using equal parts brown sugar, whole oats, flour and butter (usually I use one cup of each) that you mash up with your fingers.
7. Slide the whole mess into a large brown paper grocery bag. Staple the end closed and put in a pre-heated 425 degree oven. Trust me – the paper won’t burn. If you don’t believe me, look here for an account from the Elegant Farmer regarding “the best pie in America”. It’s a paper bag pie.
8. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 and then turn the heat down to 350 and bake for around an hour (unless you have disregarded my direction about the deep dish pie plate and are using a standard pie plate – what’s the point? – in which case, you might have a finished pie in 35 – 40 minutes).
9. Carefully slice open the paper bag – watch out for escaping steam – to check that your pastry is nicely browned.
10. Eat pie.
As an additional treat – you can make the same basic pie recipe but add fresh berries to the apple mixture (which necessitates an increase in the amount of flour or cornstarch you use) to obtain yourself a mixed apple berry pie such as the Apple Blackberry Pie in the picture here. I think my all time greatest triumph in pie-making came in the form of an Apple Raspberry Pie that several people described as, “the best pie I have ever had”. So I recommend mixing berries with the apples.
It’s National Apple Day! Unlike some of our previous foods which demand a little research and introduction (yes, Yorkshire Pudding, I’m thinking of you!), I know you’ve all had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into the firm flesh of a Macintosh or Granny Smith lately.
For a minute however, lets forget the old standbys. There are many heritage varieties of apples that I would encourage you to seek out at your local stores and farmers markets. These varieties are beautiful and hugely diverse. Here on the west coast, Salt Spring Islanders have been celebrating the modest apple for 11 years at their annual fall Apple Festival. How many varieties do you think are grown on SSI?
SSI has more than 350(!!) different apple varieties being grown on the island, many of them organically. They have great names like “Pink Delight” and “Red Flesh Crab”. For a great blog post about the Apple Festival, visit this site on Culinate.com
Alas, the festival was a few weeks ago, so I had to enjoy apples on my own, in two ways: Baked and Candied! For your enjoyment, recipes for both follow:
Baked Apples a la D.
Makes 2 apples
Wash and core two apples. In a blender or small mixer, wizz a few tablespoons of each of the following: oats, raisins, pecans & brown sugar. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 tbsp butter or margarine. Wizz again. Find a bottle of maple syrup in the fridge, add 2 tbls for good measure. One more short wizz–the consistency should be coarse crumbs.
Put the apples in a small baking dish. Pack the center holes with the mix, sprinkling any extra around the base of the apples. Realize you have no apple juice for a little liquid in the dish, add a spash of dark rum instead.
Cover tightly with tin foil (optional step: curse the person who didn’t put tin foil on the shopping list. Thirty seconds later admit to yourself that you live alone, and therefore have just cursed yourself.)
Bake for 30min at 375. Uncover, bake 10 more minutes.
Result: Oozy gooey natural caramel in the bottom, crunchy topping, and a soft sweet apple. Best served with a little dairy product of your choice.
Apple Betty, often frequently referred to as Apple Brown Betty, not to be confused with the song (Whoa, black betty [bam-A-lam], Yeah black betty [bam-A-lam]), is a traditional American dessert dating back from the good ol’ colonial days when cows were going maverick in Utah and the puritans were “civilizing” the wilds of the eastern seaboard while inventing turkey dinners. It’s sort of a pudding made with apples and bread crumbs and butter (think gratin) and the usual sort of apple crisp seasoning (cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves, sugar).
I made mine using apples from our little orchard. What we had ready today were Mutsu apples (totally amazing apples – sad to say that I used them in a cooked dish, but at least I can say that these ones were a little scabby so less worthy of eating raw), and Fiestas – which are the gorgeous red ones in the picture. It was a fantastic sunny Fall day. After harvesting the apples, I hung out with Baby G on the front porch peeling apples in the sun while he “helped” by distributing the apple peels widely across the yard and occasionally bringing back handfuls of dog hair from P & T with which he hoped to season the dish. We had some words about that. All in all, a delightful way to spend the afternoon.
Apple Betty is really easy to make. Butter the dish, throw in some crumbs (mixed with sugar’n’spice), add half the apples (having first tossed them in some lemon juice), more crumbs, butter, orange juice (the recipe I used said apple cider but I didn’t have any so, as usual, I improvised), do it again. I drizzled some cream on top just because I had some in the fridge and felt the need to use it up. Throw it in the oven at 375 for 45-50 minutes. G and I read some stories and had a short nap in the hammock while we waited. It comes out sort of like a cross between a crisp and a pudding – a nice texture – and it is tart because the sugar isn’t mixed in with the fruit, but with the crumbs, so ice cream or sweet whipped cream is a must (darn). An additional treat is a drizzle of caramel sauce (I didn’t make any – I just think it would be good with it. P can report on this because I saw that he used some of the Smuckers variety).
It was good. I’d do it again.
p.s. I totally also too pulled a Sarah Palinism in this blog. Bonus points if you can find it (and, no, it’s not in this postscript – that would be too obvious).