Saturday, January 17, 2009

San Francisco Apple Pie

One of just three apple varieties indigenous to California, the Sierra Beauty is tart, crisp, and juicy. It gets rather soft when cooked, but I still think it makes an excellent pie -- especially if your pie is small, and subjects the apples to less oven time. Come to think of it, why is there so much emphasis on cooking with apples that hold their shape under heat? So long as the apples don't get mealy-stringy mushy, I like a soft creamy filling to contrast with my flaky crisp crust. In fact, two tall, stylish European customers the other day particularly requested "pie apples that get soft like applesauce apples." I led them straight to the basket of Sierra Beauties, of course.

Aside from the Sierra Beauties, the other thing that makes this pie distinctively San Franciscan is that I served it up with Bi-Rite Creamery's salted caramel ice cream. The ice cream is quite intense, so garnish sparingly.

A note on apple peels: when I'm in a big hippie hurry, I don't peel my pie apples. That's just fine for your traditional dry, firm pie apples and your favorite hungry farmer, but it simply won't do for creamy pie apples and San Francisco epicures. The leathery bits of skin will be obnoxiously obvious in the otherwise velvet-soft pie. To balance out the lack of wholesome peels, I've decided that apple pies are much better with MINIMAL sugar. This one has 3 puny tablespoons. I eat it for breakfast at 5 a.m. before cycling off to work at Bi-Rite.

San Francisco Apple Pie

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Have ready:
one unbaked pie shell
another pastry round for the top

In a large bowl, toss together:
5 medium sierra beauty apples
(peeled, sliced, and cored)
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
several gratings of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Let the apples and sugar macerate while you get the pastry ready: leave an overhanging rim on the bottom crust, and cut pretty patterns out of the center of the top crust.

Arrange the apples in the pastry shell, dab with bits of butter, cover with the top pastry round, and trim it flush with the rim. Then fold the bottom crust's overhang back over the edge of the top crust and flute.

Bake until the crust starts to gild, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake some more until thick juices bubble out of the center holes.


j-st-n- said...

If you're looking to snazz up an apple pie (although with a classic like that it hardly needs any snazzing) I've found that cranberries and goat cheese are very tasty additions. For an all around creamy and tart experience you can mix the soft cheese in thoroughly. If you want more differentiation lightly toss in COLD goat cheese at the last minute. I think I must have read this somewhere but I can't think of where. Perhaps it was a Thanksgiving gift from my muse. I look forward to the day when we again swap recipes by action and taste rather than digitally!

Rosanna said...

Goat cheese! I do remember A. Robert Wenger's father once declaring that "pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze." But I had always stayed in cheddar territory.... Cranberries, perfect.

A fellow produce clerk mentioned that grated quince did well in apple pie, too. Have you ever tried that?

j-st-n- said...

I've never given the quince much thought. Probably due to lack of exposure. It seems like it would be tasty though. I haven't done much experimentation with cheese in pies, but due to past experiences and that lovely little saying I have fresh motivation to do more of it.