A mournful thick rain is pelting my
office classroom playroom window tonight as I sit typing with a belly that is full and happy. Full because it’s stuffed with layers of perfectly spiced apple, buttery flaky crust and crunchy crumble topping. Happy basking in the glow of warm friendship and thankfulness. My girlfriend Rachel brought me a 15 pound box of honeycrisp apples this week fresh from the orchards of Eastern Washington – because she’s amazing and knows I love to bake with them. Just a day later, my “I-want-to-be-just-like-her” friend Jen popped by with a basket full of honeycrisps, caramels and a note of encouragement. Seriously, I completely fail in the doing-nice-things-just-because portion of friendship. These gals are rock stars who I’m incredibly blessed to know. Of course, as always happens, Jen came by as we were doing school in our PJs and I still hadn’t managed a shower. It’s good to have friends who love you in spite of your flaws.
Here’s a really terrible segue about how these kinds of friendships make me feel as giddy as kids playing in leaves on a crisp gorgeous afternoon in October. A horrible attempt to disguise the fact that I just really want to share this picture of my kids. There’s a magical two-day period of time in Washington when the leaves have fallen and the rains haven’t yet started in earnest. Every year my kids somehow know when that window has opened, and get out the rakes for an afternoon of autumn amazingness.
With my house brimming with the best apples on the planet, ones that normally run about $5 per pound, I decided to try something I otherwise never would do. Make a pie out of them. Rachel has become my apple fairy the past couple years, and I usually make apple chips out of her bounty. We plow thru the rest of the box with ease as my go to response to “I’m hungry” becomes “eat an apple”. With the addition of Jen’s contribution, I had enough overflow to risk a pie from a very non-traditional baking apple. I’m so very glad I took a chance because honeycrisps make the best pie I’ve ever enjoyed. They are firm enough that they don’t completely break down to mush and the flavor is just scrumptious.
First a little how-to regarding cutting apples for pie. If you have an apple-peeler-corer-slicer, feel free to use it..if you can. I find that many honeycrisps are just way too big for mine and I end up with half an apple thru and then get stuck. It’s very frustrating. It’s much easier to just cut them by hand. With this method anyway. First get a cutting board and a knife. It doesn’t even have to be a fancy paring knife. Here’s my set up with one of my steak knives.
Peel the apple. My goal here is always to get the one long curl like in Sleepless in Seattle. My kids love watching me peel apples and seeing the twisting, twirling outter layer come off all together.
Then cut half the apple off along one side of the core. Then the other half on the opposite side of the core. Now you should have a very flat cross-section of the apple with the core still intact as well as two almost half apple pieces.
Now cut on either side of the core again until you have four pieces, two big, two small and the core completely removed.
Proceed to cut each section in uniform slices. Done. Repeat.
For this pie, I used my go to America’s Test Kitchen pie crust. It’s just the best and I love it.
Dutch apple pie doesn’t have a second crust on top, instead the spiced apples are finished off with an amazing crumb topping. That’s perfect for me since one crust on the bottom (even one as flaky and delicious as this) is all I want. Gimme some of that crumb topping all day long.
I’ve made this pie before using half tart apples (like Granny Smith) and half sweet apples (like Jonagolds or Golden Delicious) — and it’s good, but the honeycrisps are a delicious blend of tart/sweet and perfect texture all in one apple.
I just love looking at those fabulous apples all piled upon each other swimming in sweetly spiced saucy goodness. Yum yum yum.
Cheers to good friends and autumn baking!
Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie
1 Pie Crust (my recipe below)
4-5 honeycrisp apples peeled and sliced
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter (room temperature)
Pie Crust (from America’s Test Kitchen)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch
pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4-6 tablespoons ice water
Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add chilled shortening and pulse until coarsely ground. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl.
Sprinkle 4 tablespoons water over flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir mixture until dough forms. If dough remains crumbly, add remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and aluminum foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before using.)
Let chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie plate. Trim, fold, and crimp edges. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
While crust is firming up, work on the filling.
Roll out pie crust and place in pie plate. Place all filling ingredients and apples into a large Ziploc bag and shake to mix. Pour apple mixture into pie crust. Cut crumble ingredients together with your hands and crumble over apples. I have found that it helps if my hands are fairly cold when doing this, so if you tend to have warm hands – try running them under cold water, drying them and then crumbling the topping. Bake at 375° for 40-50 minutes. Foil the edges for last 15 minutes if crust begins to brown too much.
utes. Foil the edges for last 15 minutes if crust begins to brown too much.