Classic Apples for Classic American Pie

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Click To Enlarge Photo: Boyd Hagen

by Sylvia Thompson
October 1998
from issue #17

Many antique apples are incomparable in cooking. For pie, apples should be juicy and rich. If I’m going to use a single variety, I prefer the tartness of ‘Rhode Island Greening’, ‘Bramley’s Seedling’, ‘Northern Spy’, ‘Jonathan’, or any ‘Pippin’. For a greater depth of flavor, however, I add tangy-sweet varieties like my grandmother’s favorite, ‘Yellow Bellflower’, or something perfumed, like ‘Grimes Golden’.

For a sumptuous tall pie, I cut apple quarters in thirds. I’m crazy about apple pie made with unpeeled fruit, but cooked peel is slick, and broad surfaces of peel keep nearby slices from adhering. In serving, chunks glide off on their own and you’ve suddenly got dessert instead of pie. Nothing wrong with a luscious apple dessert, but for tidy pie, slice apple pieces 1⁄4 in. thick, or peel the fruit.

Something else about apple pie: Brown sugar seems the natural choice, but white sugar is less intrusive, giving a purer, more appley flavor.


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