Even though summer has overstayed its welcome this year, I’m determined to enjoy fall. I want to carve pumpkins, ooh and aah at the changing leaves, and wear cozy sweaters.
So, in pursuit of some autumnal fun, we jumped in a car and drove out to the Hudson Valley for some apple and pumpkin picking on Saturday. We wound up at Prospect Hill Orchards in Milton, and despite the 90-degree heat came away with an impressive haul of apples and one perfect pumpkin. Ah, Fall. (Sort of).
The next day I decided to make an apple pie. Now, I have never considered myself a baker. My futile attempts to make pie crust from scratch have always ended with tears, horrible swearing, and banging of rolling pins against the counter. (Embarrassingly I seem to do this a lot). I resolved that this time the experience would be a peaceful one. No pie-related outbursts allowed!
I turned to Cook’s Illustrated magazine, which had arrived last week with recipes for Apple-Cranberry Pie and Foolproof Pie Dough. The pie sounded great, but I hesitated after paging through the recipes. I’m not a huge fan of Cook’s. Their recipes are generally reliable, yet tend to be exhausting and time-consuming. And I just cannot stand Chris Kimball’s hokey letter at the beginning of each issue. But the foolproof aspect proved too attractive in the end, and I dove into the realm of flour and butter, and an interesting key ingredient: vodka!
The pie took me about four hours to make, from start to finish. Recipe note: If you decide to use Cook’s dough recipe, make sure to generously flour your work surface, and don’t roll the dough out too thin. I rolled it paper-thin the first time, and I couldn’t lift it off the work surface into the pie plate. I had to start all over again.
And look! Isn’t it beautiful? OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, but I am so proud of this pie. The crust was both buttery and flaky, the most important characteristics of a pie crust. The sweet apples and the tart cranberries combined beautifully, one never overwhelming the other. (I didn’t use all of the cranberry mixture prescribed by the recipe; it seemed like too much to me.) And, most important, no outbursts!
So Summer, linger as long as you like with your heat and humidity. Autumn will be here soon enough. And I’ll peacefully make more pies to prove it.
(Unfortunately I cannot link directly to the recipes on the Cook’s Illustrated website; I think you have to be a member of the website to see them.)