American Dream Apple Pie
Pie is one of my favorite treats of all time. I love the tartness of the fruit paired with the soft, buttery crust that just falls apart as soon as it hits your mouth. I love the leftover filling on the plate once all the crust is gone, the refugees of my dessert that are happily scooped up by my fork and eaten as a memorial of the slice I’ve just devoured.
Baking it, too, is a comfort. Maybe it’s all those cliches about 50’s housewives leaving pies to cool on the windowsill. Maybe it’s just that I like an excuse to eat sugar. Either way, there’s something about baking a pie that taps into a nostalgic and simpler part of the brain. Normally, I listen to rap and heavy metal when I cook because it gives me energy. For this recipe, I refuse to listen to anything but meditative nature sounds on Youtube.
That’s the power of pie.
And of all the variants in the world, apple pie stands out as the most quintessential version.
It’s the most American, the patriotic bastion of sweetness and fat that roots us to the days of the feminine mystique. It comes with the weight of civil rights marches and day drinking your way through the housework, but it also comes with a side of something a little bit lighter. Something that seems to try and cover over all those other things, adding on just one more layer of pure white sugar and flour to make it go down easier. It says something about America then, and perhaps even now.
But enough about that. Let’s talk about how to make it.
I wanted to come up with my own pie crust recipe for this post, but I realized that that would sort of be false advertising. You see, I have always used the same tried-and-true crust recipe from Ina Garten for all my pie necessities. It’s simple, no-fuss, and I knew that anything I came up with would ultimately just be a shallow derivative of her original recipe. So, I’m sending you straight to the horse’s mouth. (Note: I never have shortening for her recipe so I just use two whole sticks of butter instead of 1 1/2. It has always worked for me).
Once you have that ready to go, we can move on to the rest.
2 9-Inch Pie Crusts (link to recipe here)
2-3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4-5 Large Honeycrisp Apples, Peeled
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Cloves
Dash of Nutmeg
2-3 Teaspoons Cornstarch
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place large skillet over medium heat and add butter, coating bottom of the pan until melted. Add apples, stir to coat in butter, cook 2-3 minutes.
Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time, stirring to coat evenly. Let cook another 2 minutes, until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add spices, stir, and let simmer until apples are soft (about ten to fifteen minutes). Put in large bowl, drain a little more than 1/2 of the juices. Mix in cornstarch and stir quickly, set aside.
Roll out 1/2 of the dough ball on floured surface until evenly thinned. Roll out into a greased pie pan and stab around the bottom and sides with a fork or knife (this is to let steam release during the baking process).
If using the lattice method for top crust, roll out second dough until thin, then take a pizza cutter and slice evenly-spaced lines through dough. Add filling to pie pan, then add top crust (if you are not comfortable with the lattice method, then simple layer the top crust on and make three large slashes across the top.
Bake for roughly 25 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown. Let cool twenty minutes, then serve.
And just like that, you can take a step back in time. In some ways, that can be a nice feeling. I think we all want to feel connected to the past somehow, and baking is one outlet that has allowed me to explore that connection more. Sometimes we don’t like what we find in history. Apple pie is not one of those things.
I hope everyone is well at this time of year. It can be hard for a lot of us to get by in the cold and the dark, but always remind yourself that brighter days are coming. Winter, just like sadness, cannot last forever. There is always sunshine and joy on the horizon. I, for one, like to look around at my community and see who doing good for others. Then, I try my hardest to imitate them.
Until next time, stay connected and keep your eyes toward the future.