Some desserts are born of planning. Some are born of desperation. This particular dessert was born of casual conversation.
One day, I was talking with some colleagues at work. One mentioned a particular dessert that he enjoyed: apple pie with a particular ice cream. Nonchalantly, I said I could make the apple pie. We set a date for a little over a week later so I would have time to make it, and he would still be in town.
I wasn’t bluffing. I knew I could make apple pie. But in actuality, I had only made one before. This salted caramel apple pie. But I needed a regular pie, so I poked around at some apple pie recipes a little bit. I decided to go with this one from smitten kitchen as her stuff always rocks. I didn’t want to at first because the crust she mentioned in the apple pie recipe had shortening. But I decided to go with her later crust info, the one I use for many of my pies, and use it with this apple pie recipe.
I made the crust in the late afternoon. It was easy. I’ve made it a few times before. I love having a pastry blender, as it makes short work of these types of things. (I’ll admit that at first I didn’t want to get one, because I didn’t know how often I would use it, and who needs more useless stuff around. But it has come in handy on so many occasions.) After making the crust, I took a little break. I probably started too late though because…
The apples took forever. (But thankfully not forever and a day, because then I would have been a day late and a dollar short.) Because they were bigger than called for in the recipe, I had slightly too much Granny Smith apple, so I used fewer of the McIntosh (not to be confused with Macintosh) apples. They were smaller than the size mentioned, so I just went with weight. I washed, peeled, cored, sliced, sliced, sliced, and sliced. And then I sliced some more. I used two bowls, which made it much easier. But since my McIntosh apples were a little smaller than what they were expecting, I should have modified how I sliced them. They got too small to work with. I took a break for dinner in the middle of working on the apples, that’s how long they took.
Also at some earlier point while working on the apples, I took a different break because the dough had chilled enough (almost 2 hours). So I rolled out the first half. I put it in a pie plate and refrigerated it as suggested.
I listened to some fun stuff on NPR while working on it. This led to a great discussion with my wife during the dinner break. We talked about education, poverty, low self-esteem, college, mentors, etc. It was really great.
After dinner I continued. Then came the lemon. Oh the lemon! I zested and squeezed the whole thing even though it was a little bit too much. And the spices, yum! They smelled like apple pie. (Different than the salted caramel apple pie, but still yum!)
I realized that I had way too much filling because the pie plate I was using was smaller than 9 1/2 inches. I put in as much filling as I could, and I refrigerated the rest of it to use for a later recipe. I kinda knew it was too small going in (the pie plate was an aluminum one so I could bring it in to work and not worry about it), but I figured it couldn’t hurt to have some leftover filling, and that way I wouldn’t have to worry about futzing with the recipe. (Futzing, it’s an industry term.)
I then rolled out the second piece of dough. (I did a regular pie top, not a lattice top.) I tucked it and the bottom one under and fluted it. I had accidentally tucked the bottom crust under first, as I was following the pie crust recipe and not the pie recipe, forgetting that I had the other crust to go on top. When it was all done up right, with the double crust tucked under, it was thick, which is how you want that part of the crust to be.
I cut slits on top. Fun! I brushed it with egg white. It was like I was painting. (You can call me the Matisse of apple pies.) I had a lot of flour on the dough, as suggested, but I probably should have brushed some off, as it was hard to brush on the egg white. I sprinkled sugar on top. More fun!
I didn’t preheat the oven as early as suggested. I waited till much later in the recipe. It was still ready a few minutes before I needed it. It was interesting that they ask you to make it too hot at first and then turn it down. I guess that makes it a little bit hotter for the beginning.
It smelled amazing while it was baking. When the first part of baking was done, the crust looked kinda awesome. It was nice and golden brown like they said. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to interfere with the baking process.
It smelled exactly like you would imagine apple pie should smell. I finished baking it for 30 minutes in the second half. It didn’t need more. It was very brown, but not too brown. I peeked by turning the oven light on with a few minutes left just to see how it was going. I was worried it might be a little bit too brown, but it came out looking good. The crust was a different recipe (from her other page), so in the back of my mind I was concerned that it might cook differently. It turned out looking okay.
It was supposed to bake until “juices bubble”, but in this case the juices oozed a bit. You could see them a little bit under the edge of the crust, and when I went to lift up the pie, you could see they had oozed out a bit underneath it. It was a gooey mess. Not horrible, but enough that I had to put paper towels down underneath it before putting it on a wire rack to cool. It reminded me a little bit of how the salted caramel apple hand pies had oozed out.
I’m wondering why the pie oozed out a bit. Maybe I filled it too full? I knew it wouldn’t all fit in, but I wanted to use up a bunch. Maybe I cut the crust too short? I didn’t measure the 1/2 inch overlay exactly, I just guessed. Maybe I didn’t close it up enough? It seemed some of the apples were almost kinda poking out a bit. Maybe apple pie always oozes a bit. I don’t know. Do you?
I left it to rest. It said it needed to rest for four hours. It was almost midnight when it was done. I left it till the next morning. I was bringing it to work anyway. A while ago, I mentioned writing up some “rules” for baking. If I do, one rule will likely be: never start apple pies after 3pm.
So I brought the pie to work. There was a lot going on at work. The people I was going to eat it with at work were busy, so we had to delay. I left it in the fridge at work. One day. Then another. At that point, I didn’t know how long it would last. Since I had so much filling left over, I ended up making another pie. I brought this one home, and I brought the 2nd pie into work. I’ll fill you in (no pun intended) on the details of the second pie soon.
Not wanting it to go to waste, we ate this pie at home. It was at room temperature. It looked and smelled how apple pie should. And it tasted that way too. Delicious. It had a good flavor, like you imagine it should. (Well, like I imagine it should. I don’t want to presume what you might or might not imagine.) It was not some pale comparison, it was the real thing. I remember growing up that recipes often didn’t turn out looking like the pictures, but this one did. It had a good crust. It cut very easily. It was a really truly amazing apple pie. Smitten kitchen does not mess around. If you want a good apple pie recipe, this is it. You will not be disappointed. That is, unless amazing apple pies disappoint you.
One other note: while it was waiting around before I brought it into work, a friend had been by and seen it sitting on the counter. I was out, but my wife explained that this pie was not for general consumption because I was bringing it in to work. It almost didn’t make it in though. Our friend said, “It’s one of Carl’s magic pies. I can’t resist.” We had to fight him off to save the pie. And thankfully we did.
It was not a difficult recipe in terms of complexity. It was just time-consuming because of the apples. Next time, I think I might try a food processor to cut down on how long it takes to make. Do you have any time-saving tips for making apple pie? Any idea on how to get it to not ooze? A favorite apple pie recipe of your own? Share the wealth! Let me (and the rest of us) know. And stay tuned to find out what happened with the second pie!