Sounds blasphemous, doesn’t it?
It is positively unpatriotic to not like apple pie. It is like hating your mother, or burning a flag or admitting to having atheistic thoughts while sitting in front of the baptismal font.
It just isn’t often done, certainly not back in the day. It might have led to one being investigated by the House Unamerican Activities Committee or something.
But, the fact is–I really didn’t love apple pie. I always thought it was kind of insipid, boring and way, way, way too sweet.
Besides, way too many people made apple pies with that godforsaken canned colorless glop that was mostly sugar and apples that apparently came from places where apples had no flavor.
It wasn’t until I was older that I began to appreciate the goodness of a well-made apple pie.
Grandma used to tell me that the best apple pies are made with more than one kind of apples; she always liked to use Jonathans, Grimes Golden and nice tart McIntoshes. I remember her telling me to limit the McIntoshes to one or two to a pie, because when they are cooked, they break down completely into a pulp; she liked that quality because it helped thicken the pie filling so she didn’t have to use too much flour and blunt the apple flavor.
But even Grandma’s apple pies were too sweet for my taste, generally, because Grandpa liked really sweet desserts. I remember she used to put from three-quarters to one cup of brown sugar in her apple pies, and I always thought that it weakened the complex flavors of the apples themselves.
I still think that most apple pie recipes use way too much sugar, so I decided that I would experiment with using as little sweetener as possible and still make a really good apple pie.
I had read in Ken Haedrick’s excellent book, Pie, that one could use apple cider in order to really add a lot of apple flavor to the filling of apple pie; since I add cider to my fried apples in lieu of a lot of sugar, I wondered if I could reduce the sweetening in a pie using the same technique. Haedrick’s recipe called for cooking the apples lightly in cider and three quarters of a cup of sugar before draining them and putting them in the pie crust. The reserved cider and juices were them to be reduced down to about one-quarter cup and poured over the apples.
But, instead of following the recipe to the letter, I changed it significantly, in order to make an apple pie that more truly suited my taste. Instead of sugar, I used honey, and used only one third of the amount called for. I added crystallized ginger, powdered ginger and golden raisins to the filling, and instead of the all butter crust both the Haedrick and CI recipes called for, I used my typical half-lard, half-butter crust. (And I used utterly magnificent locally produced lard from Harmony Hollow Farms–it was softer than the lard I had been buying from Bluescreek Farms, and very rich. This made it difficult to work with, but the crust was gorgeous–shatteringly crisp and flaky with a voluptuous flavor. I will buy all of the lard I use from Harmony Hollow from now on.)
The resulting pie was quite phenominal. The crust was exceptional, and the filling, which contained four kinds of apples: Ginger Gold, Molly Delicious, Paula Red and McIntosh, was complex and very fragrant. It was both sweet and tart; the honey lent it depth and a lovely golden color and the cider, which was cooked down to a thick jelly, combined with the McIntosh pulp to create a gloriously thick juice that required only a modicum of flour to bind it.
Pastry for double crust pie
9 1/2 cups of peeled, sliced apples (use at least three different kinds of apples, and include two McIntoshes in the mixture)
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare pastry dough as directed and while it is resting in the refrigerator prior to rolling it out, begin the apple filling.
Combine the apples, cider, honey, crystallized ginger, and golden raisins in a large pot and over medium high heat, bring to a boil and cook, stirring for about five minutes. (The McIntoshes will begin to break down immediately.)
Put strainer over a smaller saucepan and drain apples, allowing cider, honey and juices to fall into pan. Set aside apples.
Cook, stirring, over medium high heat, until liquid reduces to 1/4 cup and thickens to a syrup that will coat your spoon. You will notice at this time that as soon as you remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to begin to cool, it will gel. This is what it is supposed to do.
Put apples in a bowl, and pour syrup over and stir together thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Roll out dough as directed, and line a 9″ pie pan with the bottom crust. Pour apple filling in and top with second crust, as directed in pastry crust recipe.
Place in oven on center rack and bake for thirty minutes, then rotate pie pan 180 degrees. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown and the juices that eminate from the steam vents is thick and tawny gold in color–this will take anywhere from 35-45 minutes.
When pie is done, remove from oven and place on wire rack, and allow to cool to room temperature (or nearly so) before eating.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.