November 30, 2011

Pie yesterday, gone tomorrow

Yes, Thanksgiving was last week and yes, cookie and candy making time is up next, but I have to share this pie with you. You see, I made it for Thanksgiving, and it's a good recipe to keep in mind for the holiday, but don't let that keep you from making it any time you feel like it. Almost any time is pie time if you're a pie lover, and since apples are still up for the grabbing, or if you by chance have two or three different kinds rolling around in your refrigerator drawer and need them to make themselves useful, you should make this pie. It's a keeper. Or at least bookmark it for next year. Your family will thank you. Even if they don't say it, it will be obvious by the empty pie plate scraped clean.

I had this pie bookmarked a year or two ago but had forgotten all about it (and lost it along with my other files) until I decided that I wanted to make an apple pie for Thanksgiving and started browsing for recipes. Once again, it caught my eye. Last year I made a pear tart involving caramel sauce with an interesting mix of spices that looked promising, ended up being somewhat labor intensive, and tasted . . . alright. It was nothing worth writing about, or tempting to make again. So, this year, something more traditional sounded better, something that was definitely pie. Happily I found what I remembered wanting to make at some point, and happily also it ended up a good choice.

Now, this is not a cinnamon laced pie, not to say that there's anything wrong with cinnamon. I almost went for one like that, the pie I fondly remember eating at past Thanksgivings, because if any two things were meant to be together, apples and cinnamon it is, but I became intrigued with this one and knew it to be something worth trying at least once. Dorie Greenspan, the author, is a baking master, and the few recipes of hers that I've tried have never missed the mark. Besides, if you love apple pie, most likely you've already got a reliable and favored version. With cinnamon. So no, this is a pie that's all about the apple, with a little bit of lemon peel to brighten things up and a spot of nutmeg for some warmth, making for an apple pie that's a little different from what I'm used to but in a good way. A very good way.

I've changed a few things from the original recipe, replacing the crust with my old reliable from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook because I prefer an all-butter crust rather than a mix of butter and shortening, upping the amount of apples since they do cook down a little, adding lemon juice to the filling, and slightly rearranging the directions. Aside from swapping the crust, though, it's essentially the same recipe. It calls for raisins, which were alright--they didn't really stand out, probably because I didn't do a great job of spreading them evenly throughout the filling--but I'm thinking that replacing them with dried cranberries would be an even better idea. The most important aspect of this pie is the mix of apples, from tart to sweet and crisp to soft. Granny Smith and Pippin are good choices for a really tart apple, Jonagold and Pink Lady for the crisp and sweet-tart, and Golden Delicious or Ginger Gold for the softer, milder type. You can use whatever you want, just make sure you have a variety of apple types for a range in flavor and texture. I used Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Golden Delicious, fitting in about eight apples total. I like a lot of apple in my pie.

Old-Fashioned Mixed-Apple Pie
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan, via Bon Appetit, October 2009

2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-in. cubes
1 large egg  yolk
½ tsp. white vinegar
4 - 6 Tbsp. ice water

3 lb. assorted apples (such as Pink Lady, Pippin, and Golden Delicious), peeled, quarterd, cored, cut into ½-in.-thick wedges
cup granluated sugar
¼ cup golden or dark raisins
2½ Tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tsp. (packed) finely grated lemon peel
¼ tsp. salt
tsp. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-in. cubes

Milk (for glaze)
1 Tbsp raw sugar

To make crust: Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter, and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolk and vinegar, blending until just mixed in. Add 3 tablespoons ice water and blend just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.

To make filling: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425° F. Combine apples, granulated sugar, tapioca, lemon juice and peel, salt, and nutmeg in large bowl, and toss to blend. Let stand at room temperature until some juices form, tossing occasionally, 15 minutes.

While apples rest, roll out 1 dough disk on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to prepared pie dish and press dough onto bottom and up sides of dish, allowing overhang to extend over sides. Roll out second dough disk to 12-inch round.

Place crust-lined pie dish on rimmed baking sheet. Transfer apple filling to crust, mounding filling slightly in center. Dot filling with butter cubes. Brush crust edges lightly with water. Transfer second dough round atop filling. Trim dough overhang on both crusts to 1 inch. Press crust edges together, then fold under, crimping decoratively (or press with the tines of a fork to help seal). Using small sharp knife, cut six 1-inch slits in top crust, then cut another 1-inch slit from center of crust to allow steam to escape. Brush crust lightly with milk, then sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375° F and continue to bake pie until crust is golden, apples are tender when pierced, and juices are bubbling thickly through slits in crust, covering crust edges with foil collar if crust is browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool to lukewarm or room temperature before serving.


  1. Just when I thought pie couldn't get any better, this recipe makes it great! The combination of different types of apples provides a deep, complex flavor. -- Michael

  2. By far the best apple pie I have ever eaten!