September is already here and it’s time to celebrate the apple season! Since I just moved to Chicago (a month ago), I’m happy to share with you today a classic American Pie. A foolproof recipe extremely flavorful!
I have a funny relationship to apples – yes funny is the exact word. When I was little, I didn’t like them at all which made my family really upset as my uncle was an arborist growing apple trees mainly. And it went from generation to generation since my grand father (my uncle’s father) was also an arborist. So in the family, everyone loved apples and had to love apples somehow. My mom did love them too, but for some reasons, she couldn’t eat any when she was pregnant before I was born. Interesting that I didn’t like them afterwards then (even if I have no clue if the two facts can be linked in some way).
Funny anecdote: my dislike for apples was so strong as a kid that I wondered many times how Snow White could have fallen for an apple, as she was a beautiful young lady. A beautiful young lady wouldn’t like apples but would rather like chocolate instead, right? Not mentioning that she would have avoided so many troubles then!
However, yes “however” because yes there is hope here, I liked apples when they were cooked/baked and used in desserts: apple cakes, French apple pies, and so on. Well, I can’t help it, I like sweets. Put some fruits in your baking is the best way to make me like the most unusual fruit in taste. Little by little, I learned to like apples as a fruit as well, although I would rarely go for a raw apple (shame on me)!
The story is not over: years later, as I was a student, I did a summer job in my uncle orchard, picking apples, as all my cousins did as well. The perfect summer job: you are outside in September while it’s not to hot, not too cold, and you are spending the day picking apples, learning how to recognize one variety from another. And of course my bosses were family, so it makes the adventure more fun! With time, I learned to appreciate them more and more, which is a good thing since it is said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
Nowadays, I really like this time of the year when it is time to pick up apples, when summer is at its very end while the weather is getting a little chill, a period linked to back-to-school (or back-to-work) where you are full of good resolutions. In a word, I like the Fall season approaching, and I like the fall season even more; you will soon see it through my fall recipes on the blog!
As I said earlier, as a child, I used to eat French apple pies. They are usually very simple, consisting of a simple crust pastry on top of which you place some apple slices. Sometimes you can have a filling in between, as the one I used here in my Pear & Apple Frangipane Tartlets, sometimes apple sauce instead or an egg filling as my grandmother used to do. There are different schools when it comes to the traditional French apple pie of course, but almost every time you have a thin layer of apple slices on the top.
But unlike the American apple pie, there is almost never any spices in a classic French apple pie. I didn’t have to wait to be in the US to discover spices in my apple pies though, since in Sweden people often perfume their apple desserts with cinnamon or cardamom – make sure to check these Apple and cardamom tartlets that I discovered in Sweden several years ago. They are just amazing!
Now, what’s the American Pie made of? In texture first, you usually have a bottom crust and a top crust consisting on a large covering layer or a lattice crust as I did today (I find it more beautiful). Also, American pies are deeper, as they consist of several layers of slice apples that you stack on top of the others. Finally, what really makes the difference is the taste, as the American apple pie is deliciously flavored with different spices together, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and all spices mix. It gives your apple pie a very specific sweet taste that is typical to the American pie. Actually, when my boyfriend David tried it, his first reaction was to say “it reminds me of the apple pies I had in the US when I was a child”.
This American apple pie makes a beautiful dessert to inaugurate the fall season (or to enjoy later on for Thanksgiving for instance). Enjoy it as it is, or top it with some vanilla ice cream, and a glass of apple cider!
- 3½ cup (15 oz/420g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup + 4 tbsp (10 oz/280g) unsalted butter
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup (5 oz/150 ml) water
- 1 pinch of salt
- 8 cups peeled, sliced apples (about 5-6 big apples)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice + zest
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- ¾ cup sugar (150g)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp all spices
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup boiled cider or apple juice
- 2 tbsp butter, diced in small pieces
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp water
- For the crust: in a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Dice the butter into small pieces and crumble it with the flour until lumps are the size of small peas. Add sugar and stir well. Pour in the ice cold water, little at a time, mixing with a fork. Finish by hand and shape into a ball. Flatten the dough a little bit, wrap into cling film and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling: combine the slice apples with lemon juice and zests in a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine together sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt and spices. Sprinkle the mixture the apples, and stir to coat them. Stir in the boiled cider or apple juice.
- Once the dough is chilled, divide it into 2 pieces, one about twice as large as the other. The larger piece will be the bottom crust, the smaller one the top crust.
- Pat each pieces of dough into a disk, about ¾ inch thick.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Lightly grease a 9 inches pie pan, that is at least 2 inches deep.
- Roll the larger piece of dough into a 13 inches circle and transfer it into the prepared pan. Trim the edges so that they overlap the rim of the pan all the way around.
- Spoon the apple filling into the pan, and top with diced butter.
- Roll out the remaining dough to a 11 inches circle, and slice it into thin layers. Weave a lattice crust for the lop layer, and crimp the edges of the pie with a fork.
- Whisk one egg with one tablespoon of water and brush it on the top crust and around the edges of the pie. Sprinkle some additional sugar over to add shimmer and a sweet crunch to every slice.
- Bake the pie for about 50 minutes, until the filling starts bubbling inside the pie. Check the pie after 20 minutes of baking and cover the edges with foil to keep them from burning too quickly.
- When the pie is ready, remove it from the oven and let cool completely before slicing. Serve with some vanilla ice cream on the side.