What better way to celebrate the all too short Wisconsin fall than with apple pie? As the weather begins to cool off and the leaves go from green to red to gone in what feels like a day, there is such a comfort in having the smell of baking apples and cinnamon drifting through your home. Even if you are an odd duck like me and don’t normally like cooked fruit, the smell is worth baking the pie for. I tend to get an extra boost of comfort from the smell, as apples remind me of my dad. I would like to say that I feel that way because I am the apple of his eye (we all know the cat is the true apple of dad’s eye), but it is really for the simple reason that dad was the apple baker growing up. Now my father is not always a patient man, a trait he may have passed on to yours truly, and one would not think that baking and pastry would be his forte. Perhaps a fiery grill, but not picky pastry! I left the apple cooking to him until recently because it seemed like way too much effort to peel the apple perfectly, then slice it perfectly. Then make a pastry, perfectly. Give me something with more wiggle room says I. Now let me share a secret, most of the time dad conquered the apples. Sometimes, the apples conquered dad. I distinctly remember listening to my dad scream a very unlikely account of the apple dumpling’s parentage as he threw it overhand against the wall, MLB pitcher style, when the dough tore for the umpteenth time as he was trying to put them together. Apple 1, dad 0. Most of the time, dad won. One of the major reasons he won so many times was his nifty tool for peeling and cutting the apples. Had I had an apple peeler-corer-slicer all this time, I would have been turning out awesome pies too. It makes it so easy to look like a genius, and gives me the wiggle room I need.
The recipe that gave me reason to bring out my new toy came from an article about Michelle Obama’s cookbook. All politics aside, please I beg you, this is a brilliant pie, though I changed it a touch. Mrs. Obama sadly refers to it as a cobbler, but she is mistaken there. Cobblers only have one crust-I checked and Wiki would never lie. Despite the fact that it is indeed a pie, I made it in my 2 ½ quart casserole dish. Pies are remarkably forgiving, so feel free to adjust as needed. The tool makes uniform thin slices of the apples. This does wonders for the texture, as does the low and slow baking method. Mixing the apples with the spices the night before allows the flavors to mingle in a way that you will need to taste to believe. When the pie came out of the oven, I give it a little brush of butter (very little, I just used what was left from brushing the pies before they went in) and then gave them a sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy!
- 8 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced evenly
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 sheets of refrigerated pastry crust (or enough homemade for one double crust pie
- 1 8 ounce stick of butter, divided
- Mix the apple slices with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and flour in a large bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat oven to 325°F
- Butter and flour your baking dish.
- Roll out one pastry sheet as thin as you can and place on the bottom of the baking dish. Prick a few holes in it.
- Pour the apples and and any juice into the baking dish.
- Dot the apples with ¾ of the stick of butter.
- Roll out the second pastry sheet, again as thin as you can. Cover the filling and pinch the pastry together. Cut off any excess dough.
- Melt the final ¼ stick of butter and brush the top of the crust.
- Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and put into the oven on a center rack.
- Lower the temperature of the oven to 300°F.
- Bake for up to 3 hours. I start checking on it after 2 ½ hours to make sure the crust does not burn.
- After removing from the oven, I gave the pie a quick, light brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.