I have asked Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Livingston to dine with me to-morrow; but am I not honor bound to apprize them of their fare?
A recent trip to the farmer’s market revealed the sad truth. Autumn is approaching which means it time for apple pie. When I made clear my intentions, the woman at the booth steered me toward their just-picked Cortland apples (“Not to tell you what to do,” she said, practically apologizing, yet I have found it’s best to trust the farmers). The Cortland is an 1898 crossbreed developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. It was named after nearby Cortland County. (My daughters will tell you that driving through Cortland County is one of my favorite places on the trip to their university). It’s hard to believe that there was a time when grocery stores carried only a few varieties of apple (Macintosh, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith) but that’s not the case anymore.
Every region has local apple varieties you can find at farmers markets or at pick-your-own orchards. If you make apple pie, you may have your own favorite variety (or varieties) that you prefer. My wife, the red headed food co-pilot, likes Granny Smith so I often make pies with them but I am all for trying different varieties and tasting the differences between them.
Apple Pie: one 9” pie
You will need pie dough for a double crust pie
½ cup sugar (white or light brown)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
(a 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg could also be added)
juice of half a lemon
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1. Place the sliced apples into a bowl. Add the sugar, spices, and lemon juice; mix to distribute evenly over the apple slices. Set bowl aside for at least 30 minutes.
2. Roll the pie dough to an 1/8th inch thickness and fit it into the pie pan. Refrigerate until needed
2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. After the 30 minutes, there should be some juices in the bottom of the bowl. Add the cornstarch and mix until the cornstarch is dissolved.
3. If you haven’t rolled out the top crust, roll it out. Spread the apples evenly into the prepared bottom crust; pour the juices over the apples. Dot the top of the pie with small bits of the butter. Wet the edge of the bottom crust with the egg wash. Place the top crust over the apples, pressing to seal it to the edge of the bottom crust; trim away any excess crust. Seal and crimp the edges of the pie. Make a small steam hole in the center of the top crust. Brush the crust with egg wash. Decorate the top crust with any of the leftover dough if you wish. Sprinkle sugar over the top. Place the pie onto baking pan and place the pie into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for an hour, until the filling is bubbling (Listen!). You can also test to see if the pie is done by sliding a toothpick into the steam hole to see how easily it slides through the apples. Remove from oven and let cool.
*excerpt from a letter dated 16 August 1779 from George Washington to Dr. John Cochran, Surgeon-General, from The Writings of George Washington Vol. VIII (1779-1780), collected and edited by W.C. Ford, 1890.