More often than not, I believe simple is best.
And not because I’m ridiculously busy and don’t have time for complicated. Because let’s be honest, these days, I just don’t.
But because sometimes you just want a good, tasty, simple recipe.
You could get the complicated recipe. Like that one chili recipe that needs 28 ingredients. Or any number of others that are nuanced and complicated and often for no reason at all.
I do try a lot of these, wondering what the extra ingredients might bring to the dish, but I usually find myself backing off from large numbers of ingredients and focusing more on recipes that spotlight a couple of ingredients and use the rest to support and highlight those.
Take apple pie, for example.
In an apple pie, you should taste apples.
I’d love to say I deliberately simplified this photo to highlight the apples, but I really just wanted an excuse to try my tabletop studio set.
But that’s beyond the point. Apples. Focus on the apples.
In an apple pie, they should be the stars. Burying them in spices and sugar ruins the point of making an apple pie. Unless you’re using really boring and bland apples. In that case, bury away.
But if you’re using good, fresh apples, they’re so sweet that you can practically smell the sugar when you slice them up, the kind of sweetness you just want to barely highlight with some winter spices and a savory buttery crust.
That might be a little overly dramatic. But the black backdrop and the light really punch up the pie. Maybe if I finally get around to making some background pieces and layer a few things in front of the background…
What do you guys think? Should I go a little more dramatic around here?
Or is it simply enough to set the pie on the table with a towel or tablecloth and a few odds and ends ingredients as I usually do, and snap the picture?
While you’re considering that, here’s another overly dramatic shot.
And a quite undramatic recipe.
I hope you enjoy!
Simply Delicious Apple Pie
Makes 1 simply delicious pie.
For the crust:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 10 tbsp ice cold water
For the filling:
- 3 medium Granny Smith apples
- 4-5 medium sweet apples (Fuji or Gala)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 2-3 tbsp melted butter
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and fluff them with a fork, dividing in the cut butter and cutting it in with a pastry cutter until it’s pebbly. Add tablespoons of water until it sticks together.
2. Divide the dough in half and work it together with your hands until it sticks nicely. Then wrap each half in plastic wrap and stick the halves in the fridge for about half an hour, while you prep the filling.
3. Peel, core, and slice the apples fairly thinly. Then place the apple slices in a large bowl and toss them lightly with the lemon juice and the melted butter to coat.
4. Mix together the sugar, flour, salt, and spices. Toss them in with the apples until they are nicely coated.
5. Heat your oven to 425F. While you’re waiting, pull out one of the halves of the dough and roll it out flat, into a nice circle. Press it into the pie pan and fill with the sugared and spiced apples.
6. You have a lot of options for the top. You can cover the top and just make air vents and brush with egg, or you can roll the dough out into a squarish shape and cut strips for a lattice, or you roll out the dough and cut a design with cookie cutters, press them together in a lattice-like structure, and brush with egg wash.
7. Bake the pie at 425F for 25 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375F, rotate the pie, and bake for another 30-35 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden brown and the top apples are slightly browned.
8. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack or tall trivet for at least 2 hours.
This pie stands pretty well by itself, but it also goes really well with a large scoop of vanilla bean gelato, which we’re loving around here lately!