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Saturday, January 29, 2011

How Do Ya'Like Them Apples?

Apple Pie – Pies & Pastries, Pg. 195 – Joyce L. Tupper (Mrs. J. A.)

We’re fortunate in Nova Scotia to have so many varieties of apples growing throughout the Annapolis Valley region. With over 2.5 million bushels of apples produced each year – apple growing is a major economic influence in Nova Scotia. A wide variety of apples are harvested in Nova Scotia including Gravenstein (most popular for pie baking). For a list of varieties and their best uses visit the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association website. Apples are largely harvested in the Autumn months and stored in large air-tight refrigerated warehouses where they’re kept fresh for exporting and creating a variety of food products all year long. This past Fall, we took advantage of the bounty of apples in our own backyard by visiting one of the many apple u-picks in Nova Scotia. The apples can’t be much fresher than being picked from the trees from which they grow. Reasonably priced by the bag-load, you can’t beat this unique Nova Scotia experience. Luckily thanks to modern technology Nova Scotia apples are widely available all year round – so you can always make a home grown apple pie no matter what the season!

For the Dutch Oven apple pie we chose the most widely popular variety – the Gravenstien, but upon the suggestion of the lovely apple lady who lives in the little building outside the apple orchard, we used a combination of Northern Spy and Gravenstien.

For the pie crust we went with America’s Test Kitchen’s Fool Proof Pie Crust (made with vodka). However if you’re worried about a hangover, we have another great alternative – see our pie crust recipe reviews here. Using a standard 9 inch pie dish: 6 Apples (more if you want a domed pie) 1 Cup of Sugar (we used half granulated, half brown) ½ Tsp of Nutmeg or Cinnamon (we added a half tsp of each) ½ Tsp Salt 1 Tbsp Butter 2 Tsp Lemon Juice (adds flavour and prevents browning) Few Lemon Rind gratings Line the pie pan with a layer of pastry dough. Peel, core and slice apples thinly. Although the recipe directs you to layer the apples alternating with your sugar/spice mixture and lemon juice – we recommend the following. Put your sliced apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine sugar, spices, lemon rind and salt (the salt mysteriously disappeared from the directions, but we assume it’s to be added to the mixture). Coat apples with mixture and add to pie shell. Dot apples with butter. Moisten crust with ice water and add top crust. Press the edge of the crusts together and get your flute on. Use a knife to create a few little slits (between 6 -8) in the top pie crust to allow air to escape while baking. You may also want to brush the crust with an egg wash to create a golden shiny crust - we also kicked it up a notch by sprinkling the crust with granulated sugar before baking. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake for 40 minutes.

Dutch Oven Tips and Tricks:

We recommend the addition of a Tbsp of flour to your sugar mixture. Although the pie wasn’t particularly runny we felt it wouldn’t have hurt to have the thickener. This pie wasn’t overly sweet – so if you like your pie on the sweeter side – kick up the sugar content. A suggestion from Greg - friend or the dutch oven and cooking consultant to the stars – we used a handy dandy apple slicer from Lee Valley Hardware. Actually this baby does more than just slice – it actually peals, cores and slices! If you’re a hard core pie maker - the Lee Valley Apple Slicer is a must - Dutch Oven approved, it’s guaranteed to cut you're prep time in half! Our final tip is the additition of a porcelain pie bird – a tip from our good friend Laura Calder. Sure slits in your pie crust will do the trick – but not nearly as fabulously as pie bird.

Overall this recipe was simple and delicious – with no glaring omissions (thanks Mrs. T!). We give this recipe an A for Awesome and an A+ for Applicious!