By Robin Fannon of RSVP Robin
The expression “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away” is not entirely just a cliché. If you omit the cheddar cheese or ice cream (see more on this below) an apple packs a powerful nutritional punch. These heart-healthy, cancer-fighting, liver cleansing powerhouses are a dieter’s dream. Most of the nutrition is actually in the peel. However, many commercial growers rely heavily on pesticides, so if you want to eat the peel don’t panic, just go organic.
I find that after indulging in summer’s wide variety of available fruit, there is something very refreshing and healthy about a big, crisp apple. Apples are the quintessential fall fruit and they lend themselves to many of the fall recipes we depend on during this season. Their versatility is endless, from breakfast cereals to main course dinner recipes, and everything in-between. Apples are definitely essential for anyone’s fall baking repertoire.
A favorite snack in our house is a rich wedge of sharp cheddar cheese accompanied by crisp, tart, sweet apple slices. A thick slice of cheddar melted on top of a piece of apple pie is not too bad either! For a long time, this was the preferred way to eat apple pie in many parts of America, especially in states famous for their cheese making like Wisconsin and Vermont. There is also the option of baking the cheddar into the piecrust. Yum! It wasn’t until the 1800s that the French term “á la mode” became popular in this country. There is however no evidence that the French actually topped their tartes aux pommes with ice cream. At any rate, many American families have their own apple pie recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. How does your family enjoy eating apples?
Classic Apple Pie
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4-8 tablespoons ice water
1. To make the dough for the pie crust, mix 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon each salt and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Cut 2 sticks chilled unsalted butter into pieces. With a pastry blender, cut in butter, working until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Add 4 tablespoons ice water; work with hands until dough comes together. If dough is still crumbly, add more ice water a tablespoon at a time (up to 4 more tablespoons). Do not overwork.
3. Divide dough in half, and flatten halves into disks. Wrap disks separately in plastic; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
4. To form the pie shell, roll one of the dough disks on a floured surface into a 14-inch round. Wrap around rolling pin and carefully unroll over a 9-inch pie plate.
5. Fit gently into bottom and side of plate. Use kitchen shears to trim dough to a 1-inch overhang; fold under, and seal to form a rim.
6. Roll our second dough disk into a 14-inch round. Set aside.
For the apple pie:
4 lb. (2 kg) Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered and cored
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. fresh orange juice
1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) sugar, plus 1 tsp. to sprinkle on top
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. water for egg wash
1. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
3. Fill the prepared pie crust with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the two together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 tsp. sugar and cut four or five slits.
4. Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm. Makes one 9-inch pie.
French Apple Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¹/₃ cup well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
3 medium apples
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF
2. Place a piece of parchment paper into an 8- or 9-inch cast-iron pan and grease it with butter.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Whisk in the granulated sugar, calvados and vanilla extract. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk to combine.
5. Peel, halve, and core 2½ of the apples, then cut them into ½-inch-thick cubes.
6. Reserve the remaining half apple, unpeeled, and cut it into ¼-inch slices, for the top.
7. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined, then gently fold in half of the melted butter.
Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and melted butter.
8. Gently fold in the cubed apples, reserving the slices. Transfer the batter to the pan and arrange the apples slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
9. Bake until the cake turns a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a cooling rack and let it sit for 5 minutes.
10. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar
Crisp Apple Chips
2 tablespoons granulated xugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200ºF. Line two sheet pans with silicone mats or parchment paper.
1. Core apples if desired, then slice thinly with a mandoline. Lay slices side-by-side in an even layer on the mat or parchment, then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon evenly all over apple slices.
2. Bake apples for about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, until apples are no longer gummy and are dry to the touch. The apple slices will get crispy as they cool.