Recipes at Sound Food

Harvest Fair Prizewinner shares his pie recipe

Jon Quitsland won Best of Show recognition at this year's Harvest Fair for a caramelized apple pie made with this recipe, adapted from Patricia Wells's Bistro Cooking.  Various kinds of fruit can be used, depending on the season: Bosc or Anjou pears, Braeburn or Gala apples, even peaches.

The key to a tender, intensely flavored pie is that you cook the fruit in butter and sugar over medium to high heat for 30 minutes or more, until you have a dark syrup and the fruit surfaces have caramelized. The thick chunks of fruit will keep their shape but lose weight; the water in the fruit evaporates and is replaced by butter and sugar.

Make the dough for the crust several hours ahead (ideally, the night before you plan to bake).

For the crust of a 9-inch pie:

            1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (PW says "do not use unbleached")

            7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold, cut into little bitty pieces

            2 teaspoons sugar, and salt to taste (no more than ¼ teaspoon)

            ice water in a cup that permits pouring little by little

Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a cold mixing bowl; cut the butter in with a couple of knives or a pastry blender, and finish by mixing with your fingers, breaking up the butter and combining with the flour until you have a mealy mixture. Add the water in small increments, stirring it in with a spoon until the mixture begins to clump together when you take it in your hands; add very small amounts of water at the end, until you can form a thick disk that holds together, about the size of a salad plate. Wrap the dough in waxed paper and let it rest in an unheated room for several hours.  After you've prepared the fruit but before you've cooked it, roll out the dough in one piece on a pastry cloth, dusting with flour to prevent sticking; it should be large enough to drape over the sides of the pie pan. Let the shape be irregular. Keep it cool and flat until the fruit is ready to bake.

For the filling:

            3 pounds of fruit (6 large apples), each cut into 6 chunks, peel and core parts removed

            6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and ½ cup of sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using a sauté pan, a dutch oven, or a broad, deep skillet, melt the butter and dissolve the sugar; add the fruit and distribute it evenly. Move the pieces of fruit around so that all sides are exposed to the heat and the syrup as it develops. Cook at medium high for about 20 minutes, until some of the fruit begins to brown, then increase the heat, moderating it if the browning is going too fast. Stop when most pieces are brown, before anything burns; some pieces may be falling apart but most will keep their shape.

While the fruit rests in the hot pan for a minute or two, ease the crust into the pie dish, with some extra draped over the sides. Pour the hot fruit into the crust and distribute it evenly, then fold the extra crust cozily around the fruit. Bake in the center of the oven until the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

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