What pie to bake for Thanksgiving?

The gold standard

The gold standard

That’s a serious decision to make.

Am I joking?  Well, not really. For some reason this year I took longer to think on it.

This whole what-pie-to-bake for this year’s turkey dinner was between apple and sweet potato.  Last year, I went with Dori Sanders’ sweet potato pie, which is basically a sweet potato custard baked into a crust.  Super delicious!

Snow White's apple

Snow White’s apple

But this year had apples written all over it.  Partly because I kept seeing them in their abundant glory at our local farmer’s market––Mutsu, Fuji, Cortland, Ginger Crisp, Macoun, Granny Smith, etc.  And let me give a shout out to the Red Rome.  When you slice open a Red Rome you’ll see the whitest flesh tinged with red streaks, like it’s bleeding.  This must be Snow White’s apple (or rather the wicked Queen’s).

Mutsu it is

Mutsu it is

The recipes for apple pie I have seen in cookbooks and online call for a tart apple thus it’s the Granny Smith that gets mentioned most.   The apple you might eat as a snack may not be best suited for baking, but I wouldn’t want to buy an apple that only tastes good surrounded by a buttery crust.

Apples in the mix

Mix it up

My pie was 90% Mutsu and 10% Fuji.   Two of my favorites for eating.

Ready bake

Ready bake

The pie came over to America along with the English settlers in the 17th century.  Though they stuffed their ‘pasties’ mostly with meat as apples were used for cider making, it turns out that apple became the pie of American choice.

Take a slice out of life

Take a slice out of life

This phenomenon of immigrants bringing over their food and eating customs is what makes Americans so interesting and intricate.  Past and current migrations of people offer fresh perspectives on what it means to be American.  We embody this spirit so well on Thanksgiving Day when we celebrate our family culture with food and love.

Nutmeg from Antigua

Nutmeg from Antigua

Though my childhood memories of our awkward Thanksgivings are bittersweet,  I honor my mother’s desire to take part of an American tradition that invites everyone to the table with an All-American apple pie.

Last apple standing

Last apple standing

Apple pie

(adapted from Dori Sanders’ Country Cooking)

The ingredients

1/4-1/2 cup sugar (I think less is best)

2 tbsp flour

1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp coarse salt

5-6 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (combine sweet and tart if you like)

2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

pie crust for a 2-crust 9″ pie

for the top crust:

egg wash: 1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp half & half beaten into a frothy mixture

a few tsp of sugar

The steps

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

2. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl.  Add apples and mix lightly.

3. Heap apple filling in a pie plate lined with unbaked crust.  Dot with butter pieces.  Top with the second crust and crimp edges together.  Cut a small hole on the top and cut slits in the crust to let the steam out.

4. Brush the pie with your egg wash and then sprinkle top with sugar.

5.  Put your pie on a half sheet or baking sheet to catch any drippings.  Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes.   Or until the crust is golden brown.

6. Let cool and rest for an hour before serving.


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