I have been away from the blogosphere for much of the month of January. Instead, Susan and I have been opening boxes after our move from Santa Fe to Southern California. In spite of downsizing, we are still trying to figure out how to cram the accumulations of over 50 years of marriage into our condo that is a lot smaller than the house we left.
For nearly three weeks, our focus has been on getting settled in, but we have made time to spend with our daughter and her family. Carol has suggested that we start a new tradition with family dinners, alternating between our homes every Sunday. Everyone gets a part of the meal to cook. This week, I was assigned dessert. Carol is a great dessert cook, and so is her mother. The pressure was on. It occurred to me that apple pie is a favorite for most, and it certainly fits in with family tradition.
I was right. Apple pie was a big hit, especially with the teenagers who went back for seconds. The recipe I used was my modification of a recipe published by Sam Sifton in the New York Times. His recipe was a modification of one by Kierin Baldwin, a well-known NYC pastry chef. The key to the pie’s success is cooking the filling before you put it in the pie. I added lemon juice and a good splash of Calvados. Cream instead of the usual egg wash gives the pie a nice sheen. I also increased the cornstarch so that the filling became custard-like. For that reason, it is extremely important to let the pie cool completely before you serve it. Also, use a glass pie pan if you can. Everything seems to bake more evenly. Confession: I used a commercial pie crust. If you’re a purist, make your own.
One other diversion we have been able to do when we can’t open another box is to go to the shore and watch the sunsets. This image is of Point Vicente and its lighthouse just as the sun is setting. Truly a beautiful spot.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 5 large Jonagold apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup Calvados
- 1 carton commercial ready-made pie crusts (2 discs)
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the prepared apple slices and stir until they are well covered with butter.
- Combine the sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Sprinkle over the apples and stir until the apples are completely coated. Continue to sauté until the apples are softened and the coating begins to caramelize. Sprinkle in the flour and cornstarch. Stir and cook until the mixture is smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice and Calvados. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
- When you are ready to assemble the pie, remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator. Line a glass pie plate with one of the crust circles. Fill with the apple mixture, mounding it slightly in the middle. Dot with bits of the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Paint the rim of the filled pie shell with cream. Top with the second crust circle and press the rim firmly to seal the crust. Turn the edge of the assembled crust under and crimp with a fork or your fingers. Paint the top crust of the pie with cream. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cut 4 slits near the center of the pie. Lower-down slits will encourage the filling to bubble out during baking.
- Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet that has been preheated in the middle of a 425°F oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and continue to bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.
- Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely, 2 hours or more.
- Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or sharp Cheddar cheese.