On Cooking Southern: ‘Tis Apple Season

applepies2-DSCN8115

By Laurie Triplette

ldtriplette@aol.com

Week of  October 27, 2014

Southernism of the Week:

Don’t insult the alligator before you cross the stream: A simple concept — do not arouse the sleeping predator…  

‘TIS AUTUMN, ‘TIS APPLE SEASON 

‘La-de-da, de-da-de-dah. Tis Autumn.” So goes the old Henry Nemo song popularized by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1949. 

I, for one, am glad Autumn is here! After all, what’s not to like? Football? Nah. Fabulous crisp weather? Nah. Gorgeous landscapes in brilliant hues? Nuh uh! 

Oxford-autumn2CIMG1193It’s also the time when some of our best food crops are ripe and ready for harvesting…. Can we spell APPLE, my darlings? 

We all know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. And if a person gets bored eating a simple apple, there are hundreds of ways to incorporate those apples into our diets. The Old Bride could write for a lifetime on the topic and not exhaust my file cabinet full of apple recipes. 

This week’s recipes include the basics for making three versions of America’s red-white-and-blue Apple Pie. 

Apple pie can be as humble or as grand as the cook desires. The simplest and homiest approach is to dice the apples and combine with the other ingredients, mounding them in the pi crust. The more elegant approach is to arrange even rows of thin-sliced apples and cover the apples with butter and other ingredients. 

The crust may include a woven lattice top or a solid top. For piecrust, feel free to use a package of 2 frozen piecrusts, or make up the simple piecrust from scratch.

Your homework assignment is to experiment with different varieties of apples. Like heirloom tomatoes, heirloom apple varieties tend to have vibrant flavor. Some are better for baking, others are better for eating raw or for making jelly and cider and apple butter.

As readers know, I have become partial to the Arkansas Black Apple for apple butter and pies. Let me hear which apples are your favorites. 

And stay tuned for next week’s recipes. Next week we will discuss a traditional Appalachian Apple Stack Cake. I’m fortunate to have married into an Appalachian family with a terrific heirloom version.

SIMPLE PIE CRUST

piecrust-DSCN4958We have shared this piecrust recipe before, but it’s my go-to-crust for all pies. Makes enough for 2 uncovered pies, or for one deep-dish pie with lattice or covered top.

2-1/4 c flour

1 tsp salt

1 T granulated sugar

3/4 c shortening 

1 egg yolk

1 T lemon juice

1/4 c cold whole milk

Sift dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender and blend until mixture forms beads. In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg yolk and quickly whisk in the lemon juice and cold milk. Beat egg mixture into the dry mix. Form a ball and roll out between two sheets of floured waxed paper.  Press into 9-inch pie pan and form the crust edges.

OPEN-FACED APPLE PIE

openface-applepie-DSCN81556-7 Gala Apples

1 T lemon juice

Salt

3/4 c all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4  tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 c sugar

3 T butter, cut into pieces

1 simple piecrust

Egg white, beaten with 2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Prepare piecrust for a 9-inch deep-dish pie. If using a frozen package containing two piecrusts, allow to thaw completely. Ball up each thawed piecrust and re-roll between two sheets of waxed paper on a flat surface. The second piecrust may be used for pie top or lattice. 

When pie pan has been lined with piecrust, prick lightly (but not completely through to the dish) around the sides and bottom to prevent puffing. Lightly brush egg wash over the piecrust to seal and ensure even browning.

Mix flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and nutmeg together in a sifter. Place dry ingredients in large baggie. 

Peel apples into salted water with 1 T lemon juice to prevent browning. Drain water, thin-slice the apples and pat dry. Add apples to baggie mixture and shake well to coat completely.

Arrange sliced apples in the pie pan, overlapping in circular rows until piecrust has been filled. Dot chilled, cut-up butter pieces evenly over the apples.  Brush egg white on exposed edges of pie crust. 

Place the pie dish on a cookie sheet and bake at 450ºF on the center rack for 15-20 minutes. Lower temperature to 350ºF; bake 30-40 minutes longer, loosely covered by tented foil. 

Remove pie to a wire rack to cool about 2 hours. Pie needs to “set” before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

LATTICED APPLE CRANBERRY PIE

LatticeAppleCranberrypie-DSCN80222 frozen piecrusts

6 medium size Red Delicious apples

1/2 c dried cranberries

1/4 c all-purpose flour

1 T cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/3 c white granulated sugar

3 T butter, cut into pieces

Egg white, beaten

3 T sugar

Allow piecrusts to thaw. Preheat oven to 450ºF. 

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and first sugar; set aside. Peel and slice or dice the apples. Mix in large bowl with the cranberries. Add the dry mixture and toss well. 

Prick the first thawed piecrust with a fork to prevent puffing during baking. Brush bottom with beaten egg white. Ball up the second piecrust, stretch it out into a rectangle on a floured sheet of waxed paper, and cover with second sheet of waxed paper. Re-roll the dough. Cut even strips. You will need 12 strips, and there will be dough left over.

Fill the pie crust with the apple mixture.  Weave the dough strips into a lattice and tuck strip edges under piecrust edge. Rework the piecrust edge all around. Brush latticed dough and piecrust edge with beaten egg white. Sprinkle second sugar evenly over the pie. It will sparkle when baked.

Bake at 450˚F for 15 minutes, lower heat to 350˚F and cover with loosely tented foil. Continue baking until pie juices bubble. Test doneness of the apples by sticking a toothpick through lattice into an apple. If tender, the pie is done. Remove to rack to cool and set up.

DEEP-DISH APPLE PIE

deepdishapplepieslice2-DSCN8145Simple piecrust for 1 deep-dish, covered pie

Beaten egg white

6 large Fuji, Gala or Braeburn apples

2 T apple juice

Salted water

1/4 c all-purpose flour

1 c white granulated sugar

1 T cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

Pinch of salt

3 T cold butter, cut into pieces

3 T white granulated sugar for top

Peel and thin-slice the apples into a bowl containing salted water and apple juice. 

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Make up simple piecrust and divide the dough, with one part being slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece between two sheets of floured wax paper. Line a deep-dish pie plate, allowing edges to overlap rim.  Roll out smaller piece and set aside.

Brush egg white over piecrust in bottom of dish.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Drain apples and place in bowl with dry ingredients. Toss to coat completely. 

Fill pie plate with apple mixture. Dot evenly with butter pieces. Carefully position second layer of rolled pie dough over the filled pie. Trim both pieces of overlapping dough with enough margin to roll the dough under at the edge of pie plate. Crimp the edges to seal. Brush with beaten egg white and evenly sprinkle with sugar. Pierce the center of the pie covering to allow juices to escape.

Place pie on cookie sheet and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Place foil around crimped edge to prevent over-baking. Loosely tent entire pie with foil and continue baking at 375˚F for about 45 minutes. Remove foil for last 10 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA)  and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).

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