You will need:
To live in the Northeast (or have a heart that occasionally resides there)
A healthy dose of nostalgia for the Fall season, preferably with memories of walking home from school with the crunch of dried leaves underfoot
Love for the smell of butter, sugar, cinnamon, apples and vanilla as they meld together in a hot oven
A brisk day or two
An ability to appreciate what is truly sweet and wonderful about the timeless simplicity that is Apple Pie
The recipe I am providing below
Fall is my favorite season. This year I am feeling especially bittersweet about the cooler days, the changing leaves, the pumpkins, squash, apples (and even the mums) because it is our last in Boston. Next year at this time we will be in the desert, which has its own staggering beauty and much to celebrate, but I am certain I will always miss the New England Fall. And as our move to Israel draws nearer I find that more and more things feel particularly dear to me about this place where Jeff and I have lived together for over a decade, and where I spent a large portion of my childhood. Leaving Boston is not an easy choice, it is a complicated mix of readiness, sadness, excitement, gratitude, heartbreak, and painful (but necessary) change. I am sure I will love bringing you all varied and exciting recipes that our new home in Israel will surely inspire, but for now I am soaking up this Autumn season for all that it is worth.
Ari’s Favorite Apple Pie, adapted from Martha Stewart Living and The Cambridge School for the Culinary Arts
This is hands down, the best apple pie recipe I know. Although Martha suggests using a mix heirloom apples, I find a variety of crisp, store bought (or picked) apples from the more traditional varieties also taste pretty darn good. More importantly, keep it simple. This pie is spiced with cinnamon, vanilla bean, and a little lemon juice. It needs nothing else.
Pate Brise (you will need to do this entire recipe twice)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
8 Tbs cold Butter
2 Tbs cold shortening (I use the vegan margarine for this)
1 egg yolk
Have all ingredients very cold (you can even mix the dry ingredients and put them in the fridge for a little while to chill them).
Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor and add the butter and shortening (cut in Tbs-size chunks) and pulse a few times until butter and shortening are pea-size. Add yolk and a couple Tbs of cold water and pulse a few times until dough starts to come together it should not form a ball in your processor, but rather hold together in a clump, when squeezed. Add more cold water if necessary, just a little at a time, until you have a dough that you can squeeze into a ball. Turn it out onto a counter and gather together and press into a disk (handle as little as possible, so that your butter stays cold). Warp in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat the whole recipe (most food processors can only handle one of these recipes at a time) and wrap the second disk and refrigerate.
Now make the filling.
3 1/2 pounds (about eight) heirloom apples, such as Arkansas Black, Calville Blanc, Carpentin, Jonathan, Knobbed Russet, or Northern Spy (I used a supermarket mix: granny smiths, jonah golds, etc)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use
Peel and core apples, then cut them into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks and place in a medium bowl. Add flour, granulated sugar, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla seeds, and toss.
Assemble the pie
On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of pate brisee to 1/8-inch thickness. Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim edges, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll remaining disk of dough into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until cold and firm, about 15 minutes.
Place apple mixture in prepared pie dish, and dot with butter. Center dough round over apples, and tuck overhang under edge of bottom dough. Using your fingers, gently pinch dough along edge to seal. Using a paring knife, cut eight 2 1/2-inch vents in dough to let steam escape. Freeze pie until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix yolk and cream in a small bowl, and gently brush over dough. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 60 to 75 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool.