So there was this hilarious but short-lived t.v. show called Samantha Who that starred Christina Applegate and if you had a chance to see it before it was canceled last year, you know that as wonderful as Applegate was in it, the real stars were her character’s two best friends, Andrea and Dena, played by Jennifer Esposito and Melissa McCarthy, respectively.
So in the Second Season episode, “The Ex,” it is revealed that beautiful, gorgeous, fashionable, confident Andrea doesn’t like to have her photo taken because for some reason, she is doomed to look hideously awful in photographs. There’s this sequence of absurd photos proving her non-photogenicness and then Dena agrees to take a good photo of her come hell or high water, and hilarity ensues and really, why was that show canceled??? I think episodes are still available for download at iTunes and they’re so worth it.
Anyhow, all of that is a very long way of saying that some pies are like the Andrea Belladonna of the baking world. In real life they are gorgeous and sophisticated and although they may seem shallow, are really quite deep with flavor. So don’t let the above or any subsequent photos mislead you, this Classic Apple Pie is beautiful.
Granny Smith apples are about the only good baking apples I have access to in Laramie. I’ve never found any of the Rome, Macoun, Cortland, or Empire apples Martha’s always recommending in her recipes.
The Granny Smiths are just fine, though, and the filling is a literal classic combination of apples, lemon juice, cinnamon & nutmeg, and some of the other usual suspects in fruit pies.
I use Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible a lot and she always allows her apples to macerate before further prepping for the pie. When I started doing this and then reducing the resulting liquid on the stovetop before filling the pie, my pie-making improved by leaps and bounds. So, I was reluctant to just immediately dump the apple mixture into the pie crust. I envisioned a flood of sugary apple juices ruining the pie and wreaking havoc on my non-self-cleaning oven. I so wanted to macerate. But I trusted the MSBH recipe and proceeded without macerating.
I did, however, add a tablespoon of pearl tapioca to assuage my anxiety just a bit. But that’s the only change I made.
You can see the tapioca in the photo above, along with the small pieces of butter you add before putting on the top crust.
The crust is just the simple pâte brisée. It’s then brushed with an egg wash, sprinkled with sugar, and vented with some small cuts. The entire thing goes in the freezer before being baked.
The apples cook down quite a bit and I love how you end up with a pie cavern. I think pies are my favorite thing to bake, especially fruit pies. And I definitely love to eat them.
See, that piece of pie is, in actuality, a thing of beauty but it just doesn’t translate in the photo. Biege food is always hard for me to photograph well. But believe me, it tastes perfect. There’s nothing here that’s too different from most other “classic” apple pie recipes, but the MSBH recipe for pâte brisée and the simple ingredients are all you really need.