Friday, 3 July 2009


“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” - Carl Sagan

When I was visiting the USA several years ago, I was invited to dinner at a colleague’s house. The family was delightful and the dinner very good. However, what stuck in my mind was the excellent apple pie, which was definitely home made and the pride of the hostess (with good reason too)! She was even kind enough to supply the recipe:

American Apple Pie
• 3/4 cup butter
• 5 tablespoons cold water
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt

• 6 large new season apples
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 4 tbsp. apple cider
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• 6 tbsp. blanched, toasted almonds
• 1 tbsp. sugar
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 tbsp. milk or cream

1. Peel, core and slice the apples. Put in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss the apples with the cider, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Let stand for up to an hour, tossing from time to time.

2. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place butter, water, flour and salt in food processor bowl. Process just until dough clumps together - about 5 seconds. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 6-inch pancake. Center one pancake inside a 25 x 30 cm plastic bag. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the countertop to hold the plastic bag in place. Smooth out the bag and begin rolling the pastry from the center out in alternating directions to form an even circle. After every few strokes, lift the top surface of the bag from the dough and smooth it down again flip the bag over and lift the other surface and smooth it down. Continue this "roll, lift, flip" pattern until your circle of dough is about two cm wider than the rim of your 25 cm pie pan. Loosen both sides of the plastic bag from the dough and slide the pie pan upside-down into the bag and center it over the circle of dough. Turn the pan and bag over so the dough rests in the pan and slide the pan and dough from the bag. Gently press the pastry into the pan and trim the edges about one cm beyond the rim.

3. Sprinkle the almond-sugar mixture over the bottom of the shell. Keep the rest of the dough chilled until ready to use.

4. Transfer the apples to the pie shell, mounding them higher in the centre and leaving the sugary liquid behind in the bowl. Add the heavy cream to this liquid and beat until it is slightly thickened. Pour the mixture over the apples to coat them.

5. Put the remaining dough pancake inside the bag and roll it out using the same "roll, lift, flip" routine. When the top crust is rolled, cut the bag on 3 sides and peel off the top sheet of plastic. Use the remaining sheet of plastic to turn the top crust over the filling, center it, then peel off the plastic. Trim the top crust to once cm beyond the edge of the pie pan. Fold the top edge under the bottom crust and flute. Make several slashes in the top to allow steam to escape. Brush with the egg yolk beaten with the milk to form a glaze.

6. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 175°C, and bake for 50 more minutes or until the crust is golden. If the edge darkens too much during the baking, cover it with foil, leaving the center open, and continue baking. Cool and serve with ice cream, if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Enjoy your weekend!

1 comment:

  1. There is a phrase here in America: Simple as Apple Pie. There is some irony in that statement. I learned to make them at the elbow of my mother and so in one sense they are simple enough for a child to learn. But until you see the recipe printed out - well, Carl Sagan was right.

    Thanks for this post.