For Warren Brown, author of “PieLove” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang), his mom’s apple pie always has held a special place in his memory bank.
I can identify with that, too. This traditional, old-fashioned dessert is easy to like, and never fails to stir up childhood memories of a long-lost but much cherished granny. This is especially true as the fall apple-picking season nears.
Readers will find "Mom’s Apple Pie" and a host of other recipes in Brown’s book, aptly subtitled “Inventive recipes for sweet and savory pies, galettes, pastry cremes, tarts and turnovers.”
An extra perk comes with the enticing food photos provided by Joshua Cogan.
Pumpkin, Mango Meringue and Maple-Walnut – and many other pies – are represented in Brown’s latest book. Other volumes to his credit include “CakeLove in the Morning,” “United Cakes of America” and “CakeLove: Cakes Made from Scratch.”
Washington, D.C.-based Brown, a lawyer-turned-baker who in 2002 opened his first bakery, CakeLove, now operates multiple locations in the metropolitan area there.
MOM’S (TRADITIONAL) APPLE PIE
(Makes one 8- to 10-inch pie)
7 1/2 cups (2 lbs.) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut horizontally into 1/4-in. slices
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbl. unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbl. cornstarch
3/4 tsp., plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp. allspice
4 Tbl. unsalted butter
1 recipe, flaky butter crust blind baked (*recipe below)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the apple slices in a 6-quart pot.
Mix the sugar, salt, flour, cornstarch and spices in a bowl. Combine the mixture with the apples, add the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the juices bubble and thicken. Set the filling aside to cool a bit.
Place 1 tablespoon of the apple liquid into a small bowl and set it aside. Scoop the filling into the cooled crust.
Cover the pie with the top crust of your choice and style. Whisk together the reserved apple liquid, the egg and vanilla to make an egg wash. Brush the crust with the wash and lightly sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar and cinnamon.
Bake the pie for 45 to 50 minutes. When finished, the juices should simmer around the edges and the top crust should be golden brown. Allow the pie to cool for 1 hour to let the filling set before slicing.
FLAKY BUTTER CRUST
(Makes enough for one 9- to 10-inch double-crust pie)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. superfine granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted very cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tbl. ice water
Egg wash of choice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Add the flour, sugar and salt to the work bowl of a food processor and run it for at least 30 seconds. Stop the processor and add the butter all at once.
Pulse the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; pulse in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and rides on top of the S blade.
Turn the dough out onto lightly floured parchment, remove one third of it and wrap it in plastic film to keep it from drying out. If you’re not making a double-crust pie, hold this dough in the fridge or freezer for another time.
Shape the remaining dough into a disk, place a second sheet of parchment on top, and roll it out into a large round, about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.
Gently fit the dough into a 9- to 10-inch pie pan, fold the excess to form the edge, and crimp. Chill the crust for 15 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if you are making a double-crust pie, roll out the reserved dough between two sheets of parchment to a round about 10 inches across. Set it aside, keeping it between the parchment sheets to prevent it from drying out. Brush the bottom crust edges with egg wash.
Dock the crust and weight it with a circle of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan resting gently above the pastry to prevent it from puffing up while toasting. If your pie filling will be baked, blind bake the crust for 5 to 7 minutes. If you will be using the crust for a custard pie, where baking isn’t required, blind bake for 10 to 12 minutes, checking often after 10 minutes.
Set the blind-baked crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling of your choice. Top and finish the pie as desired or as directed in your recipe.