APPLE PIE // elspeth

The baby is sleeping. It occurred to me as I typed that sentence that she's actually very much not a baby anymore, and that I am humoring myself. She's two. Today she threw her blanket off the deck four times and walked down the stairs and around through the tangle of ivy to get it. When I asked her if she knew how much I loved her she said "Yes." I asked "How much?" and she said "Four, five." She said "Tank you, Mama" when I handed her a glass of V8 (or whatever you want to call this stuff), and she told me when she woke up that she'd had a bad dream about a bear. I didn't even know that bears are scary to her. How is she learning all this so fast?

Last Wednesday was her birthday. When I asked her the day before what she wanted me to make for her birthday cake to take to school, she did not hesitate. "Pie!" When I asked her what kind of pie, she said "Apple." And then for emphasis, "Pick apple, Mama." (We've been apple picking twice now, once at our friends' house in Truro, and another time in Sherbourne. It's made quite an impression.) 

We chose a recipe—a classic, double-crust version. We spent the better part of the afternoon rolling out the crust, spilling flour all over the kitchen, vacuuming it up, and doing it again. We sat out on the deck peeling and coring and chopping apples, and then came inside and mixed up the filling.

Then we baked, and the next day we brought it in to school for her to share with her friends and teachers. I got there just in time to see them sitting around the table, tiny chairs tucked in. I even got a bite. And I'm happy to report that it was everything I hope for in a pie: flakey, buttery crust. A thick filling that holds together when you cut a slice. Sweet, soft fruit with a hint of nutmeg and sugar and a good smattering of cinnamon. 

Sally told me she liked it "Five, six." That about says it.


This recipe is adapted from Amy Traverso’s “Double-Crust Apple Pie” in The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. It is the classic, all-American apple pie, and I like it best with vanilla ice cream. A note about crust: most recipes make extra, as this one does. You can use any extra dough to make mini-pies—just roll out a circle and spoon jam in the center of one half. Then fold it over to create a half moon shape and crimp the edges so the jam stays in. My mom always did this with my sister and me when we were kids. We called these little pies “stickies” because the jam always ran over the edge.

for the crust:

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
18 tablespoons (2 and 1/4 sticks!) butter, cold
1/4-1/2 cup cold water
cream for brushing over the crust

for the pie:

3 pounds apples
1 /3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of salt

Make the crust first. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or a knife, then work it into the flour with your hands until it’s in pea-size chunks. Add the water little by little until the dough is wet enough to be worked into two balls. Wrap each in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. (You can keep it in the fridge for up to a week if need be.)

Next make the filling. Peel, core, and slice the apples into wedges. Put the wedges in a big bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until the fruit is evenly coated.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out one ball of dough for the bottom crust and drape it across a 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in the filling, then roll out the other ball of dough for the top crust. You can cut it to weave as a lattice or leave it whole and cut slits in the top for steam to escape, whatever you prefer. Trim any overhanging dough to within 1-inch of the pie plate, then roll the dough in toward the center of the pie to create a lip around the edge.

Brush the top of the crust with cream and sprinkle it generously with more granulated sugar—roughly a quarter cup is good. Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 40-50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Serve warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream.

1 comment :

Elisabeth said...

Happy birthday, Sally! I'm a birthday pie kind of person, too. - Liz R.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.