Her Apple Pie, My Italian Cream Cake & Trading Places - No. 57
Kate McDermott shares a Thanksgiving apple pie with us
I mentioned last Tuesday that this week I invited Kate McDermott to bring hot apple pie to Between the Layers, and I share my story of Italian Cream Cake over on her newsletter. Both great Thanksgiving desserts! The Pie Lady and the Cake Lady have been conspiring for a few months to do this, so enjoy pie here and cake there. And if you’d like to read more from Kate, here’s how:
A Thanksgiving Apple Pie
by Kate McDermott
Thanksgiving is a day that I look forward to all year long and I am so lucky to attend a wonderful Thanksgiving potluck that has been going on for over four decades.
My first time was several years after I settled in a small harbor town on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. The potluck, at that time, was in about year ten, and my son not quite two years old. I remember our little family of four arriving at a beautiful handcrafted home on land overlooking the Elwah River. I brought a casserole and a wild blackberry pie. Since then, my family unit has changed, and even though there were some years that I couldn’t attend, the potluck has continued and is much loved event in my life.
I am grateful for all the wonderful people I have met there, many of whom are like family to me now. It amazes me that our children, who ran around so joyfully outside on gray drizzly northwest days, as we grownups huddled around the fire laughing and watching salmon slow roast on cedar sticks, are now bringing their own children to this same gathering. The tradition continues but where did all those years go?
We did not gather last year because of Covid and recently I ask if Thanksgiving will be happening this year. “We are very hopeful but a final decision hasn’t been made yet,” is the reply. My fingers are crossed, and lattice strips too, but for safety’s sake, if we need to wait another year, it’s ok. I look forward to the day when we do meet again and how special that celebration will be.
My little boy, one of those who ran around outside so gleefully, is nearly 35 years old now. I am very lucky that he lives close by with his own sweetie, and if we gather together at home this year, our celebration menu will look something like this:
· Local wild-caught salmon
· Homegrown Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon and blue cheese
· Fresh baked cornbread
· Apple cider from the 120-gallon pressing we did last month—not our all-time record of 180 but a very respectable amount and enough to make hard cider to carry us through the year
· And of course, pie…made from homegrown apples.
On this Thanksgiving, may you and yours be safe, and abundantly blessed with family, friends, and good food.
Baking the 20-20-20 way
Over many years of pie baking, I’ve found that if sugar goes on toward the later part of the bake instead of at the beginning, then there is less chance for a burned top.
Your full bake will take about one hour, during which time you’ll set your timer for three 20-minute intervals. I call this the 20-20-20 Method, or the Pie Camp Shuffle.
1. Place the pie in an oven preheated to 425°F (220°C) and bake for 20 minutes.
2. Turn down the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 20 more minutes.
3. Open the oven, carefully remove the pie, set it on a heat-safe surface, and close the oven to keep the heat inside. Quickly brush the top of the pie with egg wash and then sprinkle lightly with sugar. Return the pie to the oven and continue baking at 375°F (190°C) for the final 20 minutes.
Is it done yet?
1. Look for steam and a slight bit of juice coming out of the vents before removing it from the oven. Get your ear right down almost to the top of the pie and listen for the sizzle-whump, which some call the pie’s heartbeat.
2. Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing…if you can.
How to avoid the Grand Canyon
Apples slump when they bake and this can leave a gap between the filling and crust. I call this the Grand Canyon. It doesn’t bother me, but if that’s not how you like to slice your pie, then make the filling and pre-cook it in a braising pan over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, or until a fork just starts to slide in easily. Let cool completely before placing in the bottom crust. Top with a full crust or lattice, and bake as usual. The apples will have already done most of their slumping.
THE QUINTESSENTIAL APPLE PIE
Make your pie filling with more than one variety of apple for a real flavor sensation. Or, substitute an unpeeled pear or two and half a quince for some of the apples.
Heritage or Heirloom Apples are those that are regional to specific areas and are many times grown by small farmers and who bring them to farmers markets. You can also use a good mix of apples from your local grocery. I like to use both sweet and tart apples in a pie for flavor. If the peels bother you, remove them.
Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie
1 recipe double-crust pie dough of your choice
8-10 cups heritage apples (skin on-but feel free to peel if that is to your liking), quartered and cored
½ cup (100 g) sugar
½ teaspoon (3 g) salt
1 teaspoon (2 g) cinnamon
2 gratings whole nutmeg or a small pinch of powdered
½ teaspoon (1 g) allspice
1 tablespoon (12 g) artisan apple cider vinegar or 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1–2 tablespoons (15–30 g) calvados, another apple liqueur, or boiled apple cider (all optional but really good)
½ cup (73 g) flour to thicken
1 knob butter, the size of a small walnut, cut into small pieces for dotting the top of the filling
1–2 teaspoons (4–8 g) sugar, for sprinkling on top of the pie
1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon (15 g) water, fork beaten
1. Slice the apples into ½-inch- (1.25 cm) thick slices, or chunk them up into pieces you can comfortably get into your mouth, but not so big that they may still be crunchy at the end of the bake time.
2. In a large mixing bowl, put the apples, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vinegar, calvados, and flour, and mix lightly until most of the surfaces are covered with what looks like wet sand.
3. Roll out half the dough and place in the pie pan.
4. Turn the filling into an unbaked piecrust, the unbaked pie shell and dot with the butter.
5. Roll out the remaining dough, lay it over the fruit, and cut
5 to 6 vents on top, or make a lattice top. Trim the excess dough from the edges and crimp.
6. Chill in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
A Week Away from Pub Day! A NEW TAKE ON CAKE on Splendid Table with Francis Lam & BOOK TOUR (Yes, there will be a book tour!)
Did you hear the most recent episode of Splendid Table ? I was honored to be talking about simple baking with Francis Lam and in the company of such talent - Dave Beran, Aran Goyoaga, and Paola Velez.
Thanks again to Kate McDermott for her lovely pie, and for further reading about Kate:
James Beard Award Finalist Author, Kate McDermott, is the creator of Art of the Pie. A home baker and cook, who champions the time-honored craft of artisan pie making, since 2008 Kate has taught over 5000 people to make homemade pie in her popular and sold-out workshops across the country and in Europe. She is the author of Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Fillings, Crusts, and Life, Home Cooking with Kate McDermott, and her newest book Pie Camp: The Skills You Need to Make Any Pie You Want. Known as The Piechiatrist, Pie Whisperer, and Pie Rock Star, Kate has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Saveur, Oprah, NPR, and many more. She lives at Pie Cottage, her home on the north coast of Washington State, where she gardens, cooks, bakes, writes, and tends her wood stove. Please visit Kate at Art of the Pie and on Twitter.
Coming this Thursday for Subscribers:
Steve’s Pecan Pie and its sweet story. Pie must be on my mind! You don’t want to miss this one, so:
Have a great week!