Monday, November 19, 2012

Grandma Ople's Apple Pie

Let me start by saying that I do not have a Grandma Ople. I have a Grandma Zina, though, does that count? I think it should because my Grandma Zina is awesome.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Thanksgiving.

I don't really feel qualified to tell you much about Thanksgiving just yet. I'm only 27, and last year was the first year I ever cooked and hosted the biggest meal of the year. I'm still on the hunt for those recipes I want to include every year. Thanksgiving with my family growing up was deliciously basic, and there aren't many tried and true recipes for me to hang my hat on. My mom is always trying new things herself, which I love about her.

Pie, though, is a different story. I can talk about pie. This apple pie in particular, because I have actually been making it for quite some time and can wholeheartedly recommend it for your Turkey Day feast.

I found this recipe years ago on and was struck by the sheer volume of 5-star rave reviews. So, of course, I had to try it. It's an unusual technique for apple pie --you basically make a caramel and pour it over your apples in the crust. As written, it is wonderful, but I had to tweak it.

Just a little.

The original does not call for spices, which are essential to me in an apple pie. So I added just a hint. I also added a bit more flour, to thicken things up, and some vanilla (because there must always be vanilla).

The pie pictured (while it's not my best photo ever) was the BEST apple pie I've ever tasted. I feel strongly that a large part of that was the apples I used. They were Gravenstiens; an heirloom variety that is only in season in late August and early September. They don't store well, unlike most other varieties, so you have to strike while the crop is practically still warm from the sunshine. But any baking apple will work here, including the classic Granny Smith. Find one that you like, or use a combination.

But FIRST, make some pie dough. Make Deb Perelman's All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough. I'll wait. (It won't take long.)

Now that that's waiting in the refrigerator, let's make the filling:

Grandma Ople's Apple Pie
adapted from

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla
8 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated is best, if you have the equipment)
one recipe for two-crust pie dough

Start with the "caramel". In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add in flour to make a paste, then add sugars and water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to simmer and let cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and add vanilla.

While that's working, roll out your pie dough, and carefully place the bottom crust in your pie plate.

Then get going on the apples.

Slice your apples quite thinly. You can use a knife or mandoline. I'm usually to lazy to get out my mandoline, which is pretty ironic, actually, so I end up using my knife. Place apple slices in a bowl and squirt on a little lemon juice. Toss. (I am not the quickest cook, so I usually add lemon juice to my apples a little at a time as I work to keep them from browning.)

Once your apples are all sliced, toss them with your spices and a sprinkling of flour. Then pour in your caramel sauce. Toss to coat, pour into pie plate and place top crust. Seal edges with egg wash and crimp decoratively. Vent top crust (I just cut a few simple slits with a sharp knife), and brush with egg wash.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes to set crust, then lower temp to 350 and cook for 35 - 45 minutes more. If the edges of your pie begin to get too brown, wrap them carefully with foil.

Let pie cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting and enjoying, otherwise things will be a little too liquid. And don't forget the vanilla bean ice cream.

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