For me, fall means apple picking. And apple picking means apple pies! The minute the weather turned crisp, we grabbed some friends and headed upstate to pick as many apples as we could carry. Empires and Jonagolds were ripe in abundance so we filled up mostly on those. Empires have a pure white flesh and are great for eating; they are sweet and tart, and aren’t too firm. Jonagolds are very large, firm, and as the name suggests, golden. They have a starchy flavor that becomes sweet when baked. I like to mix a good baking apple, like Jonagold, with a small amount of a sweeter, softer apple, like Empire, to give my pie fillings some variety of texture.
Apple picking has made me appreciate apple pies all the more. They were never my favorite pies. I get bored of that apple & cinnamon flavor easily. Once I started making them myself, I realized they didn’t have to be sweet, but could be slightly more savory. I usually add a pinch more nutmeg or cloves to my pies and keep the sugar to a minimum.
The apple pie recipe I use is actually Betty Crocker’s Scrumptious Apple Pie recipe. We used that this weekend as a basis for a dozen mini-pies. My mom found me a set of 5-inch pans for super-cheap at the local discount store. She’s been using hers for chicken pot-pies, but I couldn’t wait to try them out with apple pies. Now they are made and packed away for the coming months. We still have a big basket of fruit left and will probably make a few full size pies to enjoy with friends while we are still in the mood for apples.
Happy fall everyone! Make pies and be merry!
About this author: I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...