Saturday, May 22, 2010

Slice of Apple Pie, Anyone?

We're doing Apple Pies today! So I started this post in the U.K. and I'm finishing it in Morocco on an iPad so bear with me, these are not blog friendly machines. Forgive me if I'm not as verbose as usual, I'm screen touch typing with a single finger (meaning the last five words look about 2hours to type.)

So, apple pies!

I could ramble on about Apple pie being a United States cultural icon, about growing in a rural Washington farm house with a modest apple orchard, or about autumns spent avoiding the swarms of angry wasps that gorge on excess rotting fruit, but hey I'm not in the U.S.. I'm in the Europe--"where the history comes from"--so we're going way back and I'm pulling another old recipe out of my hat. An old English apple pie.

This one comes from Antiquitates Culinariae, printed in 1791. There is a recipe for apple pie (tartys in applis) from the 14th century I believe, although I'm not too certain. The book appears to have multiple sections--and possibly multiple date ranges--and can be a little difficult to follow. For me, 14th century English is tough to understand and 18th century really isn't much easier. Heck, given the accent and enough beers, sometimes I have trouble understanding some of the Brits I meet here

Of course, I'm not always easy to understand either. I was told yesterday by a lady down at the pub that I sound like Frasier Crane. Something I not quite certain how to take.

Anyway, I'm digressing here... this old apple pie:

For to make tartys in applis

Tak gode applys, and gode fpyeis, and figys, and reyfons, and perys, and wan they are well brayed, colourd with fafron well, and do yt in a coffin, and do yt forth to bake well.

Couldn't be simpler, right? Take good apples, and good spices, and figs, and raisins and pears, colored with saffron and baked in a coffin.

Not quite your style? Like measurements? Lack baking coffins? Well we have some apple pie recipes to share. A tried and tested apple pie, a whiskey apple pie and a blackberry apple pie. Nom.

The first pie, whiskey apple, comes from Alex of For The Love Of Sucrose. She is another scientist/baker/blogger!

(Now since I lack my laptop in Morocco my normal formatting will be a little different, just because simply uploading photos and pasting recipes isn't exactly speedy or straightforward on this little iPad. When i'm back in the U.K. on Wednesday I will edit for formatting and add a few more photos.)

While religiously reading Ms. Humble's blog and wallowing in jealousy I came across a contest she was throwing (?? what's the proper verb here?) and with the prize of having your blog plugged in addition to a sweet little something from Morrocco (where she will be traveling soon) I decided I had to make something. And I knew that I had to make the best pie I've ever made, which is the Whiskey Apple Pie. Admittedly, I'm not a huge pie person. And as a result, I don't make pies that often (so selfish...) so this really is the best pie I've ever made. I happen to like it a great deal and the whiskey addition is just a little treat. Why not right? So here is the recipe again if you care to try it out. It's simple and tasty. Not over the top sweet, or rich, just a nice little snack or dessert. Or breakfast item?


2 1/2 pounds (1.1 kg) apples (about 6 large), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 8 cups sliced) (about 900 grams sliced)

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (15 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)

Instead of letting the apples macerate at room temp for 3.5 hours, I simply combine all of my filling ingredients and cook them down for about 5 minutes in a couple tablespoon of butter in a large skillet to soften them just a bit and let them release some of their juices so it doesn't boil over in the oven. I then remove the apples from the pan and place in a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons of whiskey (when I first made this recipe I added one tablespoon, the next time I added two, and I now I add three, but I'm convinced more whiskey is always a good thing so really you can add as much as you like! It doesn't affect the quality of the pie, just adds more whiskey flavor!) and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it a bit. Also, great tasting whiskey really helps. If you wouldn't drink it, don't put it in the pie. I then fill the pie with the slightly cooked apples/whiskey and top with a lattice. While the pie is baking, I cook down the juice mixture from the skillet to a carmel sauce and drizzle over the pie when cooled. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Next time I think I might up the whiskey factor by making a homemade whiskey vanilla ice cream. The whiskey flavor in the pie is nice and subtle so it could handle something like this as a topping.

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking (

Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry):

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon (30 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 - 120 ml) ice water

Pate Brisee: In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove one portion of the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and trim the edges of the pastry to fit the pie pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Then remove the second round of pastry and roll it into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator.

Make the Apple Filling: In a large bowl combine the sliced apples, sugars, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Let the apples macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes to three hours. Then, place the apples and their juices in a strainer that is placed over a large bowl (to capture the juices). Let the apples drain for about 15-30 minutes or until you have at least 1/2 cup (120 ml) of juice. Spray a 4 cup (960 ml) heatproof measuring cup with a nonstick vegetable spray, and then pour in the collected juices and the 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of unsalted butter. Place in the microwave and boil the liquid, on high, 6 to 7 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to about 1/3 cup and is syrupy and lightly caramelized. (Alternatively, you could place the juices and butter in a small saucepan and boil over medium high heat on the stove.)

Meanwhile, remove the top pastry crust from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so it has time to soften and become pliable. Transfer the drained apples slices to a large bowl and mix them with the cornstarch (corn flour). Then pour the reduced syrup over the apples and toss to combine. Pour the apples and their syrup into the chilled pie crust. Moisten the edges of the pie shell with a little water and then place the top crust over the apples. Tuck any excess pastry under the bottom crust and then crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp knife, make five 2-inch (5 cm) slits from the center of the pie out towards the edge of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill the pastry while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place the oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on the rack before preheating the oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the stone (or pan) to catch any apple juices.

Set the pie on the stone or pan and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices start to bubble through the slits and the apples feel tender (not mushy) when a toothpick or sharp knife is inserted through one of the slits. Make sure to cover the edges of the pie with a foil ring to prevent over browning after about 30 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 3-4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Makes one 9 inch pie.

Our next apple pie comes from Curtis of Wannabe Culinarian.

I began my food blog six months ago. I've secretly always wanted to be a chef, but that will have to wait for retirement or the next life. So instead, I've been sharing a recipe or two each week. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm learning a lot. I just wish I had some magic elves who would clean up my kitchen messes afterward. I'm not the tidiest baker.

Blackberry Apple Pie


* ¾ cup flour
* ½ cup brown sugar
* ½ cup toasted pecans
* 6 Tbsps. butter, chilled
* 4 tart apples, thinly sliced
* 1 cups sugar
* 4 Tbsps. flour
* 2 Tbsps. lemon juice
* 2 cups blackberries
* 1 9-in. unbaked pie shell

Put flour, brown sugar, pecans and butter in a food processor and pulse until it's a texture you like. I, personally, prefer a texture like coarse sand. Set aside.

Mix apples, sugar, flour and lemon juice together. Gently fold in blackberries. Pour mixture into pie shell. Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top of the pie.

Cover edges of the pie with foil to prevent burning. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes or until bubbling in the middle. Let pie cool.

Our last apple pie is a tried and tested recipe from yet another scientist/baker/blogger, Diana (you might remember her from the science cookie roundup Darwin cake) of Kitchen Fallout

Nom, nom. It's apple season. Two weeks ago I bought my first bag of MacIntosh apples and I nearly died from how good that first bite was. Those of you who think I was over reacting must not remember that apples begin to convert their starches to sugars once picked so, even if you can get apples in April, they're not nearly as good. For this reason, I only eat apples in season. I also had a similar experience when my awesome cousin, Jenn, took me to an orchard where I bought a half peck (yes, as in "Peter Piper...") of more Mac's. While they are my favourie out-of-hand eating apple, they suck in pies (but are great in apple sauce) because they fall apart too easily. For this recipe, choose hearty apples such as Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smiths. Enjoy!

Apple Pie

Ingredient List
pie shells (2)
apples* (1.5 kg, ~ 6-8 medium/large)
unsalted butter (3 tbsp)
granulated sugar
ground cinnamon
table salt
lemon juice
honey (optinal)
coarse sugar (optional)

Peel, core, and slice 1.5 kg apples. Rinse each set of slices briefly in a solution of water and lemon juice to prevent browning while peeling the rest of the apples.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt 3 tbsp unsalted butter in a very large skillet or pot over high heat.

Add the apples and stir to coat. Reduce the head to medium, cover and cook until the apples have softened slightly, stirring often (~ 5-7 minutes).

Stir in ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ⅛ tsp table salt, and 2 tsp lemon juice.

Increase the heat to high and cook the apples until the juices thicken (~ 3 minutes).

Spread the apples in a single layer on a baking sheet and let them cool to room temperature.

Pour the apple mixture into the bottom pie crust. Cover with a vented top crust (vent can be made with a knife or a small cookie cutter), sealing the edges with pressure from fingers or a fork.

Optional: Mix 1 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp water. Brush over top crust. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake in lower half of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the filling begins to bubble.

Let cool completely for 3-4 hours before serving. If desired, reheat in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

*A combination of baking apples is best; Courtland, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Newtown/Pippin, Mutsu/Crispin, Northern Spy, Spygold, and Ida Red.

The top crust can be substituted with a streusel or crisp topping, instead.

So Morocco is absolutely fantastic. I've been eating, shopping, getting lost in the maze of narrow streets that branch off the central square...and occasionally getting my bottom pinched. Naturally I'm turning on and punching the annoying butt touchers (Ms. Humble is not one to just ignore that). Still, I love it here and when I have a laptop again (Wednesday) I'll upload some photos.


  1. While I have baked many things, I have yet to attempt a pie. These pies are encouraging me to give it a go.

    btw - love the Eddie Izzard quote, that's one of my faves.

  2. I second the love for the Eddie Izzard shout out in reference to apple pies- 2 of my favorite things in the world!

  3. This is exactly why I decided not to get an iPad - the keyboard. The size is too awkward, and I do a lot of typing. Nevertheless, the iPad looks swanky.

    These photos look great!! I would be all over that apple pie. I just got some fresh blackberries, so I could so make that pie.

  4. Mmmmmmmmmm I would like a piece please!!

  5. that's a really long recipe. although, the end product looks phenomenal!

  6. A "coffin" is a pie crust. Directions for a period pie crust can be found in "Lobscouse and Spotted Dog," by Anne and Lisa Grossman.

    The period recipe you cite doesn't sound half bad, but I do like an apple pie that tastes only of apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

    I bought my avocados today. Green cheesecake, tomorrow.

  7. The iPad was borrowed to keep little humble happy on the plane (that's one thing it Is great at. Movies, drawing/coloring apps etc) however using it to pull together all the pieces and photos for the post took hours! Good little device for reading blogs, not for writing them.

    Aye a coffin is a pie crust/baking case, I'm just being cheeky about it. The period recipe does sound healthier at least, using pears and not sugar to sweeten the filling.

  8. This apple pie is gourgeus! Wow!
    Don't worry about your accent. When I was living in the usa, people told me they couldn't get me because I was speaking British English, and sometime they made some jokes about it; after 2 years I lost my Brit accent and got the American accent. Back in Europe (at today) I met and old friend (british), and he told me that I was speaking American english...what the hell!!! What am suppose to do now?? Who care what your accent is since you understand what I'm saying!
    Anyway, now I'm gonna stick with my American accent, and I'm proud of that!

  9. Not a big fan of alcohol, but I'd love to try the whiskey apple pie. Sounds om nom om (especially as it's a cold winter day here)!

  10. He he, that kind of English is my specialty - I should check out some period recipes (the language of the recipe is C14th, by the way).

    Looks good though - I love apple pie.

  11. Curtis has the cutest, most perfect pie crust ever. Look at the fluted edge. I hate his pie! :)

  12. >>>
    and baked in a coffin.

    Not quite your style? Like measurements? Lack baking coffins?

    A coffin is what they called a pie crust in those years, not a different kind of pan.

  13. If someone told me I sounded like Frasier Crane, I'd kiss them. I love Frasier! LOL

  14. My only experiment with whisky in baking was to add about half a shot glass to a chocolate chip cookie dough. Made the dough runny, and didn't really give much flavour. What whiskies are good for baking? I used Abelour 12yo, which might just have been too mild. (I don't have any whiskies I wouldn't drink. :D) Peaty/smoky whisky might leave more flavour behind, but does that go well with fruit?

    When I first moved to England from Norway, I was told I sounded Scottish twice. (The first time it was "you're Scottish, right?" and the second time, "so, where in Scotland are you from?") After a trip to Scotland, I have no idea why people think that ... I wouldn't mind sounding like that, I'm just pretty sure I don't. Go figure.

  15. Mmmm, these pies look so good! I've never had a whisky apple pie before so may well have to give it a go when I'm back home. Does it matter what whisky is used? Would do it this week but am holidaying on the Scottish West Coast and the only shop is 30 mins drive away in Oban :-s Jealous of Morocco - have always wanted to go.

  16. I'm loving all of these pies, but I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to pie crust. I just need to put my fears aside and do it. These pies just may be the incentive to make me bite the bullet and make that crust. (So jealous of your trip- would love to visit UK!)

  17. is there anything better than warm apple pie? not that i've found!

  18. Is the winner being chosen by veiwers' votes? If so, I'm going for the blackberry pie, so far. Om.

  19. Hey Ms. Humble,

    Thanks for the post! Looks great. Also, I found this and thought of you

    Scrambledhenfruit: Try out the pie crust. If you have a food processor it's the easiest thing in the world and so worth it. I'm not sure I'd reccommend it without one. It's a huge pain. I tried it a few times before I had a processor and it turned out horribly. Wasn't the best baker back then though. Who knows.

    Mjau: I used Johnny Walker in my pie and it turned out really well. I didn't want to trash Maker's Mark but I used that the first time and it was horrible. But then I again, I'm not a fan of Maker's Mark. So like I said in the post, use something you wouldn't mind drinking. That makes for the best flavor. Also, just a good whiskey in general works well. I think scotch is the best because it's not as sweet but it's up to you. In something like a pie, the alcohol makes no difference at all to the consistency, it only adds flavor. I guess in a dough or batter it would mess with the baking properties but for the pie your safe using it.

  20. I love pies and love apple pies. I think they are best drizzled with caramel!!!

  21. Perfect - I just moved in with my grandparents and Grandpa's favorite thing is apple pie. I'm going for the whiskey one, since I have just the right amount of whiskey leftover from making the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes earlier this week!

  22. Kasha-my grandpa was very partial the whiskey and probably would've loved the pie. I think most Grandpas are right? So good choice on that one! Also, I'm completely biased, but if you want to try out another Irish Car Bomb recipe....I really like the one I put together ( I arrogantly thought you were referring to mine there, haha shouldn't get ahead of myself!


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