Monday, August 08, 2005

As American as Low-Fat Apple Pie

I love apples. And I really love apple desserts. One of my favorite treats when I was a kid was eating sliced steamed apples that were drowning in cinnamon. I still can't look at a stainless steel collapsible steamer basket without picturing my mom steaming up a big batch of apples in the winter.

My Grandma Peggy had a crabapple tree in her back yard, and I can still conjure up the screwed-up-face, puckered-lips look each of us kids got when we bit down on a sour crabapple after a long, hot day in the pool. She made the most fabulous tart applesauce with those sour things.

I have great recipes for clafouti (which I have made for Christmas dinner the past few years) and for apple crisp (which I made for my mother for Mother's Day this year), both wonderful desserts. But I had never made a pie before this weekend, and for my first pie attempt, I went with apple, for obvious reasons.

I'm not much on sweet apple desserts, generally preferring my apple recipes to result in satisfying tartness. I ran across a recipe in America's Bounty for Sweet and Tart Apple Pie, and after cutting the fat and tweaking it to better suit my tastes, came up with this:

  • Two 9-inch deep dish pie crusts
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices (NOT peeled, for heaven's sake - the texture and the fiber are all in the peel)
  • 1/4 cup moist dried apricots, slivered
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar (that's right, only half a cup)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the apple slices, apricot slivers and lemon juice.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over apples and toss lightly but thoroughly.
  3. Arrange in pie crust.
  4. Brush rim of crust with egg.
  5. Take other crust and fit on top of bottom crust. This will fall apart, but don't worry. You need steam holes in the top crust anyway, so it works just as well to fit the top crust on in pieces.
  6. Pinch edges to seal crusts together and then brush egg over entire top crust. Dust top crust with small bit of sugar.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes (use convection bake feature, if available).
  8. Reduce heat to 350 degrees (still at convection, if possible) and bake another 30 minutes.

I was a little nervous about this pie. It is almost unheard of, according to all the apple pie recipes I checked, to make it without using butter. To that, I say "pah!" and lick my lips after eating my second piece of pie.

We ended up eating half a pie for dinner Sunday night, with Fat Baby alternately begging me and then The Carnivore for more bites of pie a la mode. Mom ate the other half for breakfast this morning, after settling 13 elementary kids in at school. She said it was the best she'd ever had, and I'm still preening over that compliment. Of course, after eating HALF A PIE, she started holding her stomach and looking faintly like she might puke. Apparently, there really can be too much of a good thing.

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