This is one of the main reasons we went apple-picking the other week: apple pie. We can’t think of a better dessert than a tasty, slightly tart, slightly sweet, hint of maple, apple pie complete with a flaky crust and topped with just a bit of cinnamon sugar. Of course, if you want to go all a la mode on us, feel free to add a scoop of ice cream; vanilla, of course.
This recipe comes from a couple of places, or we should say that the ideas that we’ve incorporated come from several places. We got the approximate ingredient amounts and baking times and temperatures from The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, the idea of frying the apples (yes, frying them; hang in there, you’ll see) from Pie it Forward, by
Makes one 9-inch pie.
Since we’re making pie from fresh fruit we have to adjust our recipe to suit the flavor profile of the apples. Taste them while slicing; if they’re very tart, use more sugar, if they’re sweet, use less. You could also increase the amount of maple syrup (use only 100% real) a bit if you want, but we really only wanted a hint of maple flavor; we didn’t want our pie to taste like pancakes. About the maple syrup, you’ll see different grades at the store Grade A, Grade B, etc. That has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with quality or flavor. The grade describes the color and only the color, with Grade A being the lightest in color. Often, the Grade B maple syrup will have more flavor than Grade A, so don’t be fooled into paying more for a syrup that is lighter in color (and possibly taste). The Pâte Brisée, we really recommend it. Easy to mix up, easy to roll, very flaky and flavorful, but if you have another favorite pie crust recipe, you’re allowed use it.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat over to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
Slice apples. Put the lemon juice into a large bowl, then core and thinly slice the apples. Some people will peel the apples first, and, if you want to do that, feel free; we didn’t, because we used apples from an orchard where we knew pesticides were not applied. Stir the apple slices occasionally so they get coated with the lemon juice and won’t discolor. Taste and estimate how much sugar you’re going to use.
Fry apples. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When melted, add the apples and fry, stirring once in a while, for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the apples are slightly soft and have released their juices. We fry the apples to cook them down just a bit before placing them in the crust. That way, they won’t cook down much farther in the oven, thus preventing that gap between the apples and the crust that you sometimes see in lesser pies. Once cooked, return to the mixing bowl.
Make syrup. Not the maple syrup; we don’t insist that you scratch up maple syrup. But, we can’t think of what else to call it, so, in a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Just so you know, the cornstarch is there to thicken any apple juices that cook out during baking, making for a better-looking pie.
Toss apples. Add the syrup mixture to the apples and toss to coat. Set aside.
Roll out bottom crust. Using one-half of the pie crust dough, roll it out to a circle about 10 inches in diameter. It’s easiest to roll the crust between two pieces of baking parchment. If it’s soft from all the rolling, set it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so to make it easier to handle. Transfer to the pie pan and press it into place. You can trim it now if you want to, or you can wait until you put the top crust in place. Prick the bottom all over with a fork.
Add apples. Pour the apples into the crust and spread them around to make an even layer.
Roll out top crust. Just as with bottom crust, roll out the pie crust dough to a circle about 10 inches in diameter, chilling if needed to make it easier to handle. Place on top of the apples, and seal and trim the edges. Cut a few small holes near the center to allow steam to escape. Finally, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar.
Bake. Place the pie on the baking sheet to catch spills, slide into the center of the oven, and bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown.
Cool. Place on a baking rack to cool before slicing.
We think of apple pie as the perfect dessert*. Basically, you’re eating a lot of fruit, so it seems good for you, and it is better for you that some other desserts, but, when you think about those 2 sticks of butter in the crust…. But, let’s ignore that, and talk about the pie. Ours could have used a little more sugar; it was more than slightly tart. But, that sometimes happens when you use fresh fruit, and is a more than adequate trade-off for the flavor that fresh fruit provides. Frying the apples before putting them in the pie does prevent that air-gap between the apples and the top crust that you sometimes see. The maple syrup added just the slightest hint of flavor, which seems to fit in with a fall treat (even though maple syrup is made in the spring). Over all, we’d say this is a four-star recipe, because we might want to try using a pâte sucrée (sweet crust) next time.
*chocolate desserts are excluded in this implied comparison.