'Here's to thee, old apple-tree!
Whence thou may'st bud, and whence thou may'st blow,
Hats full! Caps full!
Bushel - bushel-bags full!
And my pockets full too! Huzza!'
Apples are truly a magical fruit. For such a common little thing, the apple is steeped in folk lore and superstition. Apples have long been associated with spells, incantations and kitchen witchery. Many fairy tales include the apple as a source of enchantment and transformation. "Would you like a bite of my apple, sweet pretty?"
I grew up in New England where the old ways are bubbling and brewing just beneath a civilized veneer. And in the late Fall, the veil grows thin and we can shut the doors tight, and batten down the hatches, but those wisps and wafts of the olden ways find their way in. As a child I felt this deeply when the days grew short and darkness settled into the cold, crisp air. Magic was in the air. Along with the goblins and ghosts of late Autumn came the apple season.
I remember some of the old customs associated with apples. We would peel an apple carefully to get a long trail of the skin and then fling in over our shoulders to reveal the initial of the boy we would marry. Imagination (and schoolgirl crushes), went a long way in the reading of the omen. Slicing an apple in wedges and counting the pips revealed the number of children we'd have. We'd give pips the names of boys and press one to each fingertip. The one that remained stuck the longest was a True Love. At Halloween parties we'd bob for apples floating in a washtub, or hanging from the ceiling. And there were many apple crafts like necklaces strung from the pips and apple head dollies.
The apple myths and legends were brought over from Northern Europe where Celtic myths told of long forgotten Otherworlds. Avalon, the vale of apples, was a mystical land where unicorns resided in apple orchards and faeries reigned.
But, we are here today to bake a lovely, simple apple pie. I digress. If you would like to read more about the myths associated with apples, here are some resources:
And on to the pie portion of this post.
The best choices for pie would be apples that are crisp and sturdy. Some good choices include Granny Smiths, Gravensteins, Rhode Island Greenings, Pippins, and Winesap. Any fresh, crisp apple will suffice. If the apple is sweet and needs a bit of tartness, add more lemon.
Classic Apple Pie
- 6-8 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar (adjust down or up depending on tartness of apples)
- 2 TBS all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- zest and juice of 1 lemon (adjust down or up depending on tartness of apples)
- 2 TBS butter, cut into cubes
- white of 1 egg, whisked
- 2 Tbs. turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
- pie crust for top and bottom (store bought, or home made)
Preheat oven to 425º
Place one pie crust in the bottom of a 9" pie plate.
In a large bowl, gently toss the cut apples with flour, sugar, spices and lemon. Pile the apples into the pie plate. Dot with cubed butter. Cover with top crust. Wrap top crust under the bottom crust, press together and flute. Cut slits in top crust for steam to escape. Brush crust with whisked egg white. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes and then cover the crust edges with strips of aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbly hot.
Let cool until almost room temperature so that the filling will set up. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Or, like New Englanders sometimes do, with a slice of very sharp cheddar cheese. Enjoy your pie filled with magical apples and don't forget to toss the peels over your left shoulder. Happy Autumn!
I used an apple slicer, something like this. Each wedge had to be sliced in half to get the slices thin enough for pie. Still, it saves a lot of labor because it cores and slices each apple. I have seen some online that will cut thinner apples. You just have to search around.