We picked apples over the weekend. Lots of apples, Cortlands, to be specific. I was wondering how the flavor and texture would be after so much rain in the Northeast. I thought the apples might taste a bit washed out. I needn’t have worried. They’re great, both for baking and eating out of hand.
I adapted my mom’s stand-by circa 1953 Mirro Cookbook pie crust recipe and made a two-crust apple pie over the weekend (see below). The original recipe calls for shortening (i.e., Crisco), but I like to replace a little more than half of the fat with unsalted butter. You end up with the flakiness of the vegetable shortening and the flavor and browning properties of the butter.
My other go-to for apples is this French Apple Cake. I’ve been making it since 1992, when the recipe was published in Bon Appetit. I don’t keep Calvados or brandy, so I just add a tablespoon of water instead. This will be dessert for Saturday night.
Next week, I’ll try either Apple Brown Betty or Apple Charlotte. Both of those recipes use bread, made into crumbs or fingers. I wonder if they’re like a fruity version of bread pudding.
Classic Apple Pie
2-1/4 cups flour
¾ teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons cold butter
6 tablespoons cold shortening
6-7 tablespoons cold water
Mix flour and salt in medium-large bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut butter and shortening into the flour until you have flour and fat bits the size of petite peas. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can do this with two knives (a bit tricky) or a food processor (be careful not to over-process!).
Add water, and mix lightly with a big spoon until you have a loose ball of dough. You’ll probably need to use your hands to get it to come together, but don’t knead it like bread dough. Overworking it will make the crust tough, but don’t worry too much. It’s not that touchy a thing.
Cut your dough ball in half, put it on a well-floured board or piece of waxed paper, and sprinkle with flour. Roll it into a thick 5-inch circle. Turn it over, sprinkling the board and top of dough with a little more flour to prevent sticking as you finish rolling it out to fit into a 9-inch pie tin. Line your pie tin, and put the dough for the top crust on the board while you cut up the apples into the bowl you just used for dough (don’t roll out the top crust yet). Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in center.
6 medium to large baking apples (Cortlands, Yorks, Granny Smith if you can get non-industrial ones, etc.), peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
¾ to 1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon (the Vietnamese kind is worth the extra $ if you can find it)
1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits
Mix filling ingredients except for butter, and dump into prepared crust. Dot top of apples with butter. Roll out top crust and lay gently over pie. Seal and crimp or flute edges with your fingers. Cut three slits radiating from center. Make a collar from three 4-in strips of aluminum foil and wrap around edge of pie.
Bake for 45 minutes in total. After 30 minutes, check the top crust. If it seems like it’s getting too brown, lay a piece of foil, shiny side up, loosely over the top. At 40-45 minutes, check apples for done-ness by poking through one of the slits in the top crust with a paring knife.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. With ice cream, if you like, or cheddar cheese like they do in New England.