I love to read, rarely is there a day go by that I don't have my nose in a book at some time during the day or evening (now days my books are my Kindle iPad ap!) It's part of my going-to-sleep routine, I read a little each night in bed. I mostly gravitate to crime novels, and I especially like to follow series with main characters such as Harry Bosch, Kay Scarpetta, and Jack Reacher, to name a few. Every now and then I need a lighter read. When that happens I somehow tend to reach for books that revolve around food. I read light mysteries or love stories that happen in tea shops, bakeries, bed and breakfasts. Often these books will include recipes, which is a plus for someone like me who likes to cook and bake. Recently I read The City Baker's Guide to Country Living. The setting was a bed and breakfast in Vermont and the main character was a baker who found herself transplanted from the hustle and bustle of Boston to a quiet New England town. The B&B's claim to fame was an apple pie and winning the Countys Fair's blue ribbon was the prize.
As you can imagine, I've made many apple pies. It is one of my son's favorite pies. They aren't difficult; slice some apples, mix with sugar and spices, pour in a pie crust and bake. I was intrigued by the recipe in the book because it called for slightly pre-cooking the apples. If you've made an apple pie before, you know that oftentimes, as the apples cook down, the filling shrinks away from the top pie crust. When you cut into the pie you have a large space between the top crust and the juicy apples. It's not very attractive! Pre-cooking the apples draws out some of the moisture in the apples so that there is less settling. I thought it was worth trying!
I piled the pie shell high with the partially cooked apples and it retained its height quite nicely. I think I will use this method often. However, I thought this pie recipe could have used more spices, it wasn't as spicy as I like. That's an easy adjustment to make, especially as everyone's taste buds are different.
My Hubbers enjoyed his pie with a scoop of ice cream and his favorite topping, caramel sauce.
Blue Ribbon Apple Pie
Double crust pie dough (homemade or pre-made)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges (any baking apple, or mixture, can be used. I used all Granny Smith, so added a little more sugar as they are tarter than most apples)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg white, for the crust bottom
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make sure there is enough room for a tall pie, you may need to remove a rack.
In a large skillet, melt the butter. When the butter is sizzling, toss in the apples and stir so they are coated in the butter. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If you do not have a pan large enough, you can do this in two batches.
Remove the apples from the pan with a slotted spoon (you do not want the liquid) and put them in a large bowl. Toss the apples with the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Brush the inside of the bottom crust with the beaten egg white. Pile the sautéed apples into the crust then cover with the remaining dough disc. Trim and flute edges. You can also lightly brush the top with an egg wash and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.
Turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Place the pan on a cookie sheet (I line mine with aluminum foil), and bake until the top crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 50-60 minutes.
Let cool before serving.