I had a bucket of apples in my kitchen. They looked delish, well I thought so and so did a bevy of teensy little flies. In the past I would have just gone on autopilot and gone into the zone, the peel, core, slice zone, then thrown the lot into a heavy pan with a dab of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice and badabing – applesauce. I wanted something different for my apples this year.
My lunch today: Apple Butter, olive oil, salad greens and goat cheese. It was amazing. So I settled on apple butter and apple pie. But more first on the apple butter.
The process is similar… now for applesauce I leave the skins on cos I’m a little lazy and cos someone told me to keep my veggies and fruits as close to their original nature as possible for the full spectrum of nutritional benefits. For the apple butter you simply must remove the skins. It’s a texture thing. So my apples denuded were thrown into my heavy cast iron skillet with a little more butter than i would normally put in applesauce… I know they are going to cook a lot longer. I put them on medium low heat, and kept an eye on them… for a bit. Well for a little bit till my daughter told me to come and check this cool thing out on the internets… half of an hour later… my husband comes home from work and I wake up from singing Beatles songs with Kailee and there’s a rather sweet and slightly burnt smell coming from the kitchen. The bottom layer of my apples had burnt themselves onto the pan. I gave them a good stir and tasted… and what a surprise…. burnt caramel apples. I let them cook for another 20 minutes or so put in a dash of sea salt for good measure and transferred the apples into the crock pot to simmer on low all night long. What a treat… perhaps I’m mellowing in my age, perhaps I’m assuming some grace but in the past i would have used the burned treat as an opportunity to self flagellate and give my naughty inner beatle maniac a serious dressing down. Instead I allowed curiosity to get the better of insecurity and my result was I think the most complex and magnificent apple sauce ever which transformed into a complex, sweet and intense apple butter that I’ve put on pork chops, ice cream, buttered bread, cheese and salads so far. I’m sure I’ll think of a couple more applications before the jar runs out. Now of course I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to perfectly duplicate these results… how can one encourage oneself to be forgetful? I don’t know. Personally my spirit animal is the goldfish so I have an advantage in that quarter but I wish you luck.
As for the apple pie I’d like simply to share a recipe with you. This recipe is from the New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. I love this cookbook as it breaks down each topic and gives useful information, cuts, varietals, pairings… good stuff. This recipe is for an apple pie with cheddar and mustard in the crust. Salty sweet perfection.
Apple of her Eye Pie
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, cold
3/4 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
8 tart apples, such as Granny Smith
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Prepare the pastry dough: Combine the flour, sugar, mustard, and salt in a mixing bowl, and toss well to blend. Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture forms small clumps. Then add the cheese, and work it in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle the water, 2 tablespoons at a time, over the mixture and toss with a fork until the mixture can be gathered into a ball. Knead it once or twice in the bowl and divide it into slightly unequal halves. Wrap both halves, and chill in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350.
Prepare the filling: Core, halve, and peel the apples. Cut them into 1-inch chunks. Combine the apples and melted butter in a large bowl. Add the remaining filling ingredients, and toss until the apples are evenly coated.
Roll the smaller portion of chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface to form a 12-inch circle. Transfer it to a 10-inch plate, and press it into the bottom and sides of the plate. Trim the dough leaving a 1-inch overhang. Reserve any excess dough.
Roll the larger portion of dough out to form a slightly larger circle.
Fill the pie plate with the apple mixture, mounding it slightly. Brush the edge of the bottom crust with water. Then transfer the top crust over the apples, tucking it slightly inside the rim. Trim off any excess, allowing a 1-inch overhang. Seal the edges of the crusts together with a fork and crimp decoratively. Trim away any remaining excess pastry.
Prepare the topping; Mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Prick the top crust with a fork in several places, and cut a small vent in the center. Brush the top lightly with water, and sprinkle it with the cinnamon sugar. If you like, cut out shapes, such as leaves or apples, from the dough trimmings and decorate the top crust with them.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden, 1 1/4 hours. Serves 8.