Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brooke Dojny: Apples for Your Pie

Pick-your-own orchards have hung their signs and bright red fruit dots the branches of trees: apple season is here, and there’s no such thing as too much pie. 

Photo © Scott Dorrance
My standard apple pie recipe calls for a combination of two commonly available supermarket apples – sweet, juicy McIntoshes and tart, firm Granny Smiths. However, if you know the apples from your local farm stand or orchard, you can use fresh-from-the-tree (and usually much more flavorful) apples in your pies.

To find out which apples are best for a particular cooking application (not just pies, but baked apples, applesauce, muffins, etc.) ask the farmer for advice — or ask nicely whether you can taste their apples and decide for yourself. You’ll be able to tell immediately whether the apple variety is puckery-tart, super sweet and juicy, or somewhere in between.

More and more heirloom varieties are being grown now, but here are a few of the more commonly available apples:

Tart (crisp, firm, and unsweet; sweeten with extra sugar or balance with a sweeter apple in pies) — Greening, Pippin, York, Winesap, Granny Smith

Medium-Sweet (crisp, medium-juicy, and semi-sweet; good used alone or in combination with each other in pies) — Macoun, Crispin, Gravenstein, Northern Spy, Rome Beauty, Cortland, Jonathan, Baldwin

Sweet (aromatic, juicy, sweet on the tongue; reduce amount of sugar or balance with a tarter, firmer apple in pies) — McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Empire, Ida Red

Sedgwick Potluck-Supper Apple Pie 

What with all the peeling, coring, and slicing, an apple pie can be a bit labor intensive, which is why it’s such a wonderful choice for a potluck supper, when baking a beautiful pie is the only thing the dessert maker has to concentrate on.

6–8 servings

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch ground allspice
3 cups cored, peeled, and thinly sliced tart, crisp apples such as Granny Smith (about 1 pound)
3 cups cored, peeled, and thinly sliced juicy sweet apples such as McIntosh (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1 medium lemon)
My Flaky Pie Pastry (recipe below)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

  1. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and allspice in a large bowl. Add the apples and lemon zest and juice and toss to combine thoroughly. Set aside for 15 minutes or so, until the apples begin to soften slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out one dough disc, working from the center in all directions until you have a 12-inch round. Fold the dough in half and ease it into a 9-inch pie pan with the fold in the center. Unfold the dough and fit the pastry into the pan. Spoon the apple mixture into the pie shell and distribute the butter over the apples. Roll out the second dough disc to a 12-inch round and place over the fruit. Trim the overhanging dough to ¾-inch all around, fold the edges under the bottom pastry, and flute or crimp the dough to seal. Use a sharp knife to slash several steam vents in the crust.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 350° F and bake until the crust is golden brown and juices bubble up through the vents, 25 to 35 minutes longer. Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature, with scoops of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

My Flaky Pie Pastry 

Makes pastry for 1 double-crust pie

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
½ cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into 8 chunks
6–8 tablespoons ice water

  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Distribute the butter and shortening over the flour and process in short bursts until most of the shortening is about the size of small peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture and pulse just until no dry flour remains and the dough begins to clump together. If the dough is too dry, sprinkle on the remaining 2 tablespoons of water and pulse again.
  2. Divide the dough in half and turn out onto two sheets of plastic wrap. Shape and flatten into two 5-inch discs, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (Piecrust may be refrigerated up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.) Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before rolling out.
Recipes excerpted from Dishing Up® Maine © 2006 by Brooke Dojny. Photo © Scott Dorrance. All rights reserved.

Brooke Dojny is the author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, including The New England Clam Shack Cookbook, Dishing Up® Maine, and Lobster! (all Storey Publishing). She won the James Beard Award in 1997 for The AMA Family Cookbook, co-authored with Melanie Barnard. Brooke started her culinary career in the 1980s when she worked as a catering directress for Martha Stewart. From 1990 to 2004, Brooke co-authored (with Melanie Barnard) Bon Appetit’s monthly “Every-Night Cooking” column. She has written for most of the other major culinary magazines and has been a regular contributor to Down East Magazine. She lives on the coast of Maine, where she can be found hanging out at clam shacks and farmers’ markets. Her next book for Storey is Chowderland, to be published in 2015.

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