So how is everyone? Still full? Almost done with the juice cleanse? Thanksgiving just doesn’t know when to quit, am I right?
My personal celebration of this holiday has, over the years, winnowed down to a solo affair. Sometimes I travel, sometimes I stay home and make my childhood favorite sides (alongside a couple of turkey slices from Whole Foods). Either way, it’s a happy holiday.
But, as with most holidays, or most days, really, the star of the show is dessert. Which I like to have a day or two later. Enough is enough on the day.
This year, I had apples on my mind. I’m not big into pies, I think I’ve said this before. But I was feeling creative and decided to create my own recipe. Because when it comes to apple pie, I don’t like sweet, I don’t like gluey, I don’t like mushy.
Earlier in the fall I created an apple tart recipe where I reduced two cups of fresh apple cider to about ¼ c of syrup. Let me tell you, that cider syrup is sensational! I used it to glaze the top of the tart. I kept coming back to it in my mind, so when I decided to make a pie, I started there. Added a few spices and reduced it down. Still. so. good. I used it as the sweetener for apples.
The results were very very good, exactly what I was looking for in an apple pie: Great apple flavor, hints of spice, and a mellow sweetness.
Give it a try!
After the Rain Apple Pie*
Makes one 9-inch pie
Use your favorite crust recipe for a double crust pie. I always go all butter, but I know some of ya’ll like your Crisco. If it tastes good to you, it’ll taste good in this pie.
Divide your pie dough into two pieces, and roll each into a 13-inch circle. Line a 9-inch glass pie plate with one circle, trimming to a ½-inch overhang. Cover the pie plate and the second circle of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling.
2 c fresh apple cider, well shaken
One cinnamon stick
One star anise
Six whole cloves
About 6 whole black peppercorns
2 lbs Honeycrisp apples
Zest from one lemon
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 -3 Tbs tapioca
¼ c turbinado sugar
1 whole egg + 1 tsp milk for eggwash
Crystal sugar for sprinkling
Add the cider and spices to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a strong simmer and reduce the cider to about 1/3 cup. This can take about an hour. It tends to bubble up so remove the pan from the heat frequently and stir to check consistency. You want it to coat the back of your spoon.
While the cider is reducing, prepare the apples. Wash and dry the apples. I like to leave the skin on. Core and cut into quarters, and, using a mandolin on the ¼” setting, slice the apples into a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice, and stir to coat the apples. Add the tapioca and stir to thoroughly mix it in. Set apples aside. (My pie turned out super juicy using only the 2 Tbs of Tapioca. If your apples are juicy, use the 3 Tbs.)
When the cider has reduced to a syrup, pour it into a heatproof measuring cup and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Position a rack in the center. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips.
Remove the pie plate and dough circle from the refrigerator. Brush the bottom, sides, and overhang of the crust with the egg wash.
Add the cooled syrup to the apples and stir well to combine. Taste an apple. If you want more sweetness, add up to ¼ c of turbinado sugar sprinkled over the apples and stirred to combine.
Mound the apples into the pie plate, pressing down to reduce the space between slices. Brush the rim of the crust with additional egg wash and lay the remaining circle of dough over the top of the apples. Fold the edge of the top crust under the overhang and crimp.
Brush the remaining egg wash over the entire pie, sprinkle with crystal sugar, and cut slits for steam.
Place the pie on the center rack and bake for about 20 minutes until the crust starts to brown. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden brown, juices are bubbling, and a thin sharp knife inserted into the slits meets little resistance from the apples.
Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature. A dollop of crème fraiche or barely sweetened whipped cream is a nice touch.
*Why “After the Rain”? Because I did make it a day after a rare Los Angeles rainstorm and because nostalgia, life, the election — it’s a lot.