Enough short pastry dough for a double-crust pie
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2-1/4 lb. juicy apples; all tart or tart and sweet
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup sage leaves cut into thin ribbons
2-1/2 Tbs. flour
3/4 tsp. ground mace or nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. cold unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
Or 1/4 cup apple or quince jelly
Makes one 9-in. pie, 8 servings
Divide the dough in half. If the dough is chilled until brittle, soften at room temperature until workable. Roll out one piece and line a 9-in. pie pan with it. Roll out the other half and drape it over the back of a large plate. Cover both with plastic and refrigerate.
Put the lemon juice in a large bowl. Quarter and core the apples, then slice into the bowl. Toss them to coat with lemon juice so the flesh won’t darken. Sprinkle the sugar and sage over the apples, and toss again to mix. Let stand 10 to 15 min. to let the sugar dissolve and to slightly soften the apples. Sprinkle on the flour, mace, and salt, and blend well.
Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and slip a heavy rimmed baking sheet (or 2 light sheets, stacked) onto it. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Heap about one quarter of the apples into the pie dish, then closely arrange the slices over the bottom, being careful not to tear the dough. Cut 1 Tbs. of the butter in thin flakes over the apples. In three more parts, add the remaining apples and butter the same way, mounding the slices slightly in the center. Trim excess dough 1⁄4 in. past the edge of the dish. Use a finger to moisten the border with sugary juices or cold water. Cover with the remaining dough and trim, leaving 1⁄4-in. margin. Press the edges to seal, then flute a decorative border, or crimp the edges with a fork. Patch as needed, using a touch of cold water for glue.
If desired, stack dough scraps and roll out, then cut out an apple with a leafy twig, or a big “A” finished with apple leaves and twigs. Lightly brush the surface with water, then arrange your decorations on top. Press down gently until the pieces stick.
Cut 6 to 8 vents in the top to let steam escape. When the oven is ready, set the pie in the center of the baking sheet, rest a sheet of foil on top, and bake 20 min. Reduce heat to 375°F, remove the foil, and bake until juices bubble through the vents, and a thin metal skewer meets no resistance when slipped into the apples, about 40 min. more. Do not overbake. Should the rim be in danger of darkening, tuck strips of foil loosely around its edges.
If the pie is undecorated, in the last 5 to 10 min. of baking, dust the top with cinnamon and sugar. If there is a pastry decoration, do not do this. Instead, after the pie comes out of the oven, melt clear jelly and brush over the top for a handsome glaze.
Cool on a rack. Apple pie tastes best 1 to 4 hours after baking; juices are thickest after 3 to 4 hours. Serve drizzled with heavy cream or with a wedge of cheddar cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Apple pie can be kept in a cool place or refrigerated up to 3 days.
At high altitude, add 20°F to all temperatures.
Recipe by Sylvia Thompson
from issue #17