A few thoughts from us at Clarkdale:
It used to be true that people thought they could only cook with certain apples, but the trend has been to try different varieties. You can look from reference to reference and see there are many different opinions about which apple is good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. Almost any apple will work nicely provided you know its baking qualities. Pick one or two you like and experiment. Learn the properties of each and see if you can get a nice blend of firm and soft apples. The Apple Baking mixes we offer are perfect as they have a blend much in the same way we make our cider; rarely with just one kind. Yankee Magazine mentioned several years ago a pie should have at least five kinds of apples. That also invites discussion as some cooks prefer a pie with just Gravensteins, Duchess or Cortland, for example. It is all personal taste and needs.
Try a quince in your apple baking, they are delicious in that role and add a nice dimension. Plus they turn a nice pink color.
Stick to the amounts called for in the recipe, but adjust sweeteners to your particular apples accordingly.
A pat or two of butter on top of the apple mixture before the top is put on is a nice addition.
Add apples and pears to roasted veggies.
Cider is a great sweetener, syrup or liquid for your cooking and baking.
Cider Sauce from Joy of Cooking
Melt on low heat 1 T butter. Blend in and simmer 3 to 5 minutes ¾ flour. Add 1 ½ cups cider. (Optional: sugar, 1 t cinnamon, ¼ t cloves.) Stir and boil these ingredients 2 minutes. Use hot or cold.
Thoughts on pie dough:
If you have an old family recipe, use that, Joy of Cooking has some nice old basic ones.
If time and/or frustration is keeping you from making that pie, life is too short! We must have pie; here are a few ideas: Betty Crocker’s box of piecrust mix will fool almost anyone. Use a little less cold water than they recommend. The secret to a light, flaky crust is minimal blending. In other words the less you handle it the better. Jiffy piecrust makes smaller crusts or one big one but it’s good otherwise and the price is right. The ready made crusts sometimes seem salty and not flaky but if that’s the only way a pie will get made then that’s the way to go!
Don’t forget your venting on top of the crust.
Helen Clark always sprinkled a little sugar onto the crust, it makes it seem homey.
Lattice crusts are lovely looking; just cut strips on your second crust; use the bigger ones for the center, smaller as you get to the edges. Do one way first, then weave the other way. Patch and seal with water.
Pinch and squeeze the edge in a pattern all the way around. Another way is to press fork tines all the way around.
There are special pans you can buy that will catch the run over of juices.
Make several at a time, most of the work is getting all of the equipment out, and the filling and crust prepared. Freeze or give the rest away.
Some sources we like:
- Joy of Cooking
- The Apple Lover’s Cookbook