June 2011

Gala Apple Pie

Look at this apple pie. Isn’t it gorgeous? I baked it! Even though I made this pie weeks ago, I dedicate this post to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend because so few things are as American as apple pie.

The inspiration came from the suddenly tall and prolific Gala apple tree that grows in my parents’ backyard in Orange County. I collected the ones that fell off and used them for this apple pie.

Mind you it’s not recommended to use Gala apples for pie because they are softer than other varieties and will become mushy after baking. But I didn’t care one bit. They still produced a wonderful appley filling that went well with the buttery crust.

Speaking of the crust, I don’t know what happened but it came out magically well this time. Lord knows I’ve made plenty of pie crusts before and labored to get it right but for some reason this one was particularly tender and flaky. My favorite pie dough recipe is a very simple one by chef Jacques Pepin. As mentioned in a previous post, you don’t have to resort to Crisco for a good crust. In butter, we trust! An exceptional tool for making easy fool-proof pie crust is a food processor. If you have one, I highly recommend using it to mix your dough.

Another factor in this recent pie dough success could be the egg wash. I mixed one egg yolk with about two tablespoons of heavy cream and brushed it on top of the raw crust. An egg wash creates a glossy golden glaze that instantly transforms a pasty-looking pie to an elegant dessert. I mean, just look at it!

Nothing beats a classic apple pie. Nothing beats the spicy, cidery aroma of apples baking with sugar and cinnamon in a pocket of buttery dough. The smell just permeates the entire house and drives you crazy. Then you end up cutting a slice too early before it cools and the filling spills out all over the place. This happened to me so folks, be patient when you take the pie out of the oven. Let the filling cool and set. I know it’s irresistible but try.

A cooling apple pie. Can you see the steam rising?