A co-worker of mine went apple picking and left me with a bag of crisp, juicy tart ones that seemed just right for baking. If there’s any dessert a (American) person should know how to make, it’s apple pie, and that’s something I’ve picked up in my days.
My dad was always particular about the pie crusts, making a shortbread-like recipe consisting of mostly butter and flour, with egg yolks, sugar, and no salt. He chills the dough in two balls and puts it in the fridge to cool for about twenty minutes before rolling it out so that the butter has time to firm up, and the dough doesn’t stick to anything when you’re working with it. I didn’t have a rolling pin or any kind of surface large enough to roll out a crust in my cramped kitchen, but I would contest that you don’t need one–I simply press the dough into the bottom of the pan while watching TV or something.
A lattice-style crust is usually not preferable when it comes to apple pies, because the apple slices on the top come out a little bit drier, but if you don’t mind that as I didn’t, then this no-roll method would work just fine for you.
Now, I’m not going to fudge, but I couldn’t really taste the maple too much in the finished product. I was using pure maple syrup, but I’m sure a syrup connoisseur would be able to tell me about how many different grades, etc., of maple syrup there are like a true drink expert. Perhaps I could have used more syrup as well, but I was afraid of adding too much liquid to the filling. So why don’t you give it a try, and tell me how it went?
Transfer your apple mixture to a clean plastic bag (with no holes!) and shake it up instead of making a mess trying to stir a full bowl.
Press the dough into your pie dish, pushing from the center out to the edges. Likewise, make a rectangle on your cutting board and cut strips for the lattice crust.
Crimping the edges doesn’t need to be perfection.
Apple Maple Walnut Pie
(makes 1 9-inch pie)
2 cups flour
1 stick butter plus 2 tablespoons (optional)
1/4 cup sugar (for the crust)
2 egg yolks
4-5 tbspn water
5 or so medium tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted walnuts
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup sugar (for the filling)
1/4 tspn cinnamon
1/8 tspn nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut 1 stick of butter into small cubes and let soften before adding flour and 1/4 cup sugar. With a pastry cutter or your fingers, combine butter and flour until chunks are no longer than the size of a pea. Add egg yolks and mix. Add cold water until the dough is firm yet workable. Separate dough into two balls and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the sliced apples with the nuts, maple syrup, 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer to a plastic bag (see photos above), and shake thoroughly.
Roll or press bottom crust dough (see photos above) into a 9-inch pie pan. If using a rolling pin, roll dough onto waxed paper, then lift the paper upside down and carefully peeling the dough off and into the pan. Use same procedure for the top crust if making a solid top crust. Optional: place 2 tablespoons or so of butter in equal pats on top of the apple mixture before applying the top crust. Crimp the edges by squeezing your thumb and index fingers alternately around the edge. Sprinkle a spoonful of sugar on top of the pie before baking. Bake for about 40 minutes, until top has turned slightly golden. Let cool before serving about 15 minutes.
(for one 9-inch pie)
Co-worker’s unwanted handpicked apples: Free!
2 cups flour: ≈ $0.25
1 cup sugar: ≈ $0.10
1 stick + 2 tbspn butter (at $2.39 for package of 4): $0.75
1/2 cup walnuts (at $3.99/pretty large bag): $0.80
1/3 cup maple syrup: ≈ $0.15
Cinnamon, nutmeg: ≈ $0.05
Six brownie points–yay, butter! Ben tried this and thought that it was somewhat “healthy-tasting,” but I think that may have been because it was cold and un-gooey by that point. Or, we can safely assume that most real bakeries, or the really good ones, are in a whole other ball park of butter and sugar usage.