The season is approaching and the chill is finally in the air. After so many days of searing heat the temperature has dropped to a blissful 75 degrees and dipped into the refreshingly chilly 50s just last night.
It was quite a shock to the system, though, on arriving bare foot in the kitchen this morning to pour my first cup of joe. I had flung open all of the windows in the house the night before to welcome all of the cool breezes. Brrrrrr….but really good sleeping!!
Driving to the airport late morning to fly to San Francisco for a weeklong cookbook shoot I passed several apple orchards on the way. Apples dangling tenuously from trees branches, like little red jewels against the brilliant blue sky.
Since I live in the Hudson Valley I am surrounded by a wealth of farms in which many are apple orchards. I consider myself unbelievably fortunate to always be in the midst of a super crispy fresh apple. Not the waxy ones that had to be shipped miles and miles only to arrive bruised, not juicy and no longer crisp or that have been in cold storage since last season.
I love a fruit pie and especially a galette as it only demands a single crust. It is a free-form tart in which the dough is folded up and over the filling partially; the center is left exposed to allowing the baker to witness the golden fruit within and to emit wafts of heavenly baked apple pie aromas. It is a show stopper in all of its rustic beauty.
I have made this galette in a standard 9-inch pie plate but another plus of a galette is that you can just form it on a shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper. The crust is made with half butter and half low fat cream cheese that lends a tanginess and lightness to this surprisingly flaky crust. A perfect indulgence for all of the senses.
The real key to an apple pie with depth of texture and flavor is to include at least two to three different types of apples that will bring sweet, tart and tangy; such as golden delicious (sweet and keep their shape), Macintosh (sweet and break down during baking), Granny Smith (tarter taste and firmer texture), Braeburn (sweet taste and a bit firmer). Others to consider are Gala, Ida Red and Cortland.
Welcome the season with an apple pie to embrace the chill in the air and don’t forget to dollop with some freshly whipped cream or real vanilla bean ice cream.
The sanding sugar in the recipe gives the crust a sparkle and also a hit of sweet crispiness. You can find it in the baking aisle of you supermarket and is sometimes called decorator’s or sparkling sugar. India Tree Sparkling Sugars are sold in most grocery stores. Sugar in the Raw is a good substitute as well.
Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 40 minutes
Makes one 9-inch pie
Baking spray or parchment paper
All purpose flour to roll out dough
1 recipe (9-inch) pie crust (recipe below) or store bought pie dough
2 pounds apples a mix of Gala and Granny smith (about 6 small apples), peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch thick wedges
½ cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons coarse sanding sugar
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with baking spray or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round and transfer to pie plate or baking sheet. Leaving edges of dough overhanging pie plate; chill dough in plate or baking sheet at least 10 minutes or until firm.
Toss together apples, sugar, flour, vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Spoon filling into middle of dough into a mound. Overlap sides of dough up and over filling leaving middle exposed, pleating dough as necessary to form about a 9-inch round pie. Brush top edges of dough with egg and sprinkle all with coarse sugar.
Bake in middle of oven, for 40 to 50 minutes, until crust is golden brown and apples are tender. (If pie crust is browning too much cover the exposed crust with pie crust covers or strips of aluminum foil) Transfer pie on pan to a rack to cool. Cut pie into slices and serve slightly warm or cool.
Prep: 15 minutes Chill: 1 hour
Makes one 9-inch pie crust (not deep dish)
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
3 tablespoons reduced fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons very cold water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse together flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse with on and off bursts until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add cold water and lemon juice and pulse just until a dough begins to form. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and form into a flat disk. (Do not overwork or dough will become tough) Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour or up to 2 days in advance.
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