Having grown up in New York and now set down roots in Washington, you might say apples are in my blood. In any case, I love them. There are few foods as versatile — raw, cooked, sweet, or savory, apples never fail to satisfy and delight. But, in my humble opinion, they are pretty much perfect in pie.
Even when you narrow it down to pie, however, there are so many different varieties: Dutch crumble, lattice or double crust; which varieties, and what combination of spices? Tart and juicy, or richly spiced and gooey?
This particular pie is what I call a “New England” variety, meaning it leans a little on the tart side, and the apple slices are thin, firm, and juicy. A far cry from the store-bought cans of apple pie filling. In my opinion, it’s perfect because the apples themselves take center stage. Of course, this means the variety and quality of the apples are pretty important.
I recommend any apple variety that tends to hold its shape a bit and is juicy and sweet-tart. Don’t make this with all Granny Smiths: too dry and sour by themselves. But Galas would be too far in the other direction. I’ve made it with Honeycrisps and loved it. This time, I used a combination of Granny Smiths and Opals, which turned out pretty tasty. Whatever you decide, I recommend it a la mode with a side of good conversation.
Perfect New England Apple Pie
As I mentioned above, the variety of apples you choose is going to be important. Something tart and somewhat firm is going to feature best. I love Honeycrisps and Opals. A combination will give a more complex flavor. Whatever you do, don’t skip the vanilla. It’s the secret ingredient.
2 pie crusts
7 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4″ thick
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425F. Butter a 9-inch pie dish and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Stir well.
On a well-floured surface, roll out one pie crust and fit it into the prepared pie dish. Pour the pie filling into the dish. Dot the top of the filling with the tablespoon of butter, cut into several pieces. Roll out the second crust in the same manner. You can either use it whole or slice it into lattice pieces and crisscross them over the top of the filling. Brush the top crust with the cream.
Place the pie in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375F and continue baking for 45 minutes or until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Leftovers pair perfectly reheated with a slice of cheddar cheese.