Winter’s coming fast these days. After 53 days this summer with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, fall was a welcome respite from the blistering furnace that was May through August. The temperatures dropped to the 60s, trees exploded in yellow, rust, red, and brown. And, oh! What’s that? The air, it moves! Breezes!
But Mother Nature’s a fickle woman. The trees changed overnight, and blanketed the ground the next morning in drab shades of tan, brown and beige. Crisp 50 and 60 degree days were soon surpassed with 30s and 40s. Breezes turned to gusts and soon it was Winter.
And while early winter is surely better than 113 degrees, it’s not fall. It’s grey and sleet; it’s scarves and gloves and bulky coats; it’s a sadder, more depressed version of fall – trying to hang on to the last strands of hope before sub-zero sets in and you’re running from your car to the front door in three seconds flat.
This apple pie clings to Fall in all the right ways. It’s spiced and warm; it’s three types of apples that give it just the right combination of crunch and smooth; it’s a caramely sauce that will make you wish you were three times the size just so you could fit three times the slices in your stomach. It’s that good.
This isn’t a quick pie. Joy calls it the “With Love, Apple Pie” because this pie takes time, it’s an outpouring of commitment to pie and love and to whomever is blessed with a taste, slice or whole pie. It says, “I love you so much that I spent an entire afternoon making crust, peeling and slicing apples, letting them soak up and release the most delicious sauce, cooking that sauce down into a caramel that makes you forget the word ‘diet’ and baking an entire pie that won’t even live at my (now heavenly smelling) house.” It’s more than just a pie.
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes one pie.
2 Cups flour, all-purpose
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4-8 Tablespoons ice water
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a fork, a pastry cutter, or just your hands, cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Mix in 4-8 tablespoons of ice water one tablespoon at at time, until the dough holds together, but isn’t wet or sticky, making sure to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Split the dough into two equal halves. Wrap each in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested 30 minutes, roll it out on a well floured surface until it is 1/8 inch thick. It should be about 2 inches wider than the bottom of your pie pan so you can allow for building up the sides. Transfer the dough to the pie pan for the last refrigeration period. To easily line the pan, place a rolling pin on one side of the dough and lightly roll the dough around the pin. Then unroll it over the pie pan. Lift the edges of the dough up lightly so that it lightly eases down in the pan, making sure to line the edges. If tears or holes appear, you can pinch them shut or use scraps to repair the dough. Roll out the second piece of dough to a circle approximately the same size. If you want to cut cute shapes in the dough rather than slice it later, do that now. I used two piping tips to make the circles. Place it on a cookie sheet or flat cutting board and return both doughs to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
3 Gala apples
3 Honeycrisp apples
2 Granny Smith apples
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon, plus one teaspoon cornstarch
Begin by peeling and slicing each apple 1/4 inch thick. Place the apple slices in a large bowl and mix in the lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. Cover the bowl and allow the mixture to macerate at room temperature for approximately 1 hour. Then transfer the contents of the bowl to a colander suspended over a bowl to catch the liquid. The mixture should release approximately 1/2 cup of liquid.
Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan with the butter. Bring to a boil on medium heat and cook until the liquid has reduced to 1/3 cup and is thick and caramely in color, swirling the pan, not stirring, frequently.
Meanwhile, transfer the apples back to the large bowl and stir in the cornstarch until it has disappeared. Mix in the reduced sauce and stir to coat.
Remove the crusts from the fridge and pour the apple filling into the pie crust. Top the pie with the second crust and crimp the edges together. If you have not cut shapes into the top of the crust, make a couple small slices in the top crust so that steam may escape when cooking. Cover the pie and return it to the refrigerator for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees 20 minutes before baking. Set the oven rack at the lowest spot in the oven and place a foil lined cookie sheet on it as the oven warms.
After one hour, remove the pie from the refrigerator and uncover. Brush the top with an egg wash made of one beaten egg with 1 Tablespoon water. Sprinkle the top of the pie generously with granulated sugar. Place it on the cookie sheet and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If the edges are turning too brown before the pie has finished cooking, wrap aluminum foil around the edge to protect the crust.
Cool the pie for at least 4 hours before cutting. This gives the pie time to rest and time for the sauce to thicken back up. Good warm or at room temperature! Serve with vanilla ice cream.