One of the best things about getting older is that I’m rarely motivated to do things out of guilt anymore but I’ll have to admit, I gave in last week to our old yellow transparent apple tree. This tree came with our house, twenty-some years ago and who knows how long before that it was planted. Some years produces only a couple of apples and usually I’m just content to let them fall or if I’m diligent, they end up in the compost. This year has been different. This year our old tree has been more fruitful than I ever remember and who knows why. Maybe the weather was perfect, maybe the bees pollinated at exactly the right moment or it could have been the pruning that Charlie finally did. Whatever the reason, the old girl put on quite a show that I could no longer ignore.
The more it produced, the more guilty I became so when Charlie suggested that we really should do something with all that fruit I came back with, “alright, I’ll make a damn pie.” Funny how we coddle our gardens, hoping that they’ll be productive and when they are, there’s the realization that we need to eat the fruits of our labor and that sometimes involves work and lots of it. If yellow transparents were good eating apples, that would make things easier. But no, this is a baking apple so I decided to give into my guilt, make a pie and call it good.
I don’t consider myself much of a baker so if I’m going to make a dessert, it’d better be easy. I remember my mother baking an occasional apple pie so I decided to use her method. I don’t think she made her own crust but I really can’t hold that against her since she did have five kids to manage. I used Alice Water’s pie crust recipe which Sally describes here. In making pie dough, I always use my food processor. Just dump in the flour, butter and salt, spin a few times, add ice water, a little at a time until it forms a ball. That’s about it. Form 2 balls, cover in plastic wrap, flatten them out and store in the fridge until you’re ready to roll them out. I’m a firm believer in messing with the dough as little as possible.
Simple Apple Pie Recipe
Ingredients: 8-10 medium baking apples, I used yellow transparents/ 1/2 cup (or less) demerara sugar / 1/4 t cinnamon/ 2 pie crusts of your choice
Directions: Peel and slice apples ( yellow transparents tend to cook down so I made my really chunky)/ Fill bottom crust half-way with apples/ Sprinkle with some of the sugar and cinnamon/ Continue to fill with apples creating a mound on top/ Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar and cinnamon — I didn’t use the full 1/2 cup sugar on mine because I like it tart/ Cover with the second crust, pinching the edges and cutting some slits in the top/ Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then turn heat down to 350 for another 40-45 minutes until golden brown.
A few tips — when using yellow transparents, don’t be tempted to use the apples that have already dropped from the tree, even if they look perfect. By the time they drop, they’ve lost their crispness so get a ladder if you need to and start picking. Go easy on the cinnamon and other spices. I hate feeling like I’m eating a scented candle, if you know what I mean.
Add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and what started out as a guilt trip ended up as a guilty pleasure. It may be the only time I use our apples this year but if I do say so myself, it was a damn good pie.