Thanksgiving is by far one of my favorite holidays. It’s a great excuse to eat and appreciate each other without the pressure of shopping, gifts, and excess.
We spent our Thanksgiving with friends in Dripping Springs. They were responsible for the bird, pumpkin pie, gravy, and dinner rolls. We brought apple pie, sweet potatoe casserole, potatoe casserole, and green beans.
Our casserole dishes are family recipes and two that we haven’t been able to take off the menu since our move to Texas, nor do we have any plans on removing them any time soon. The green beans, well, they’re easy to throw together, and with small kids, “safe” food in that they’ve seen it before and doesn’t involve too many complicated ingredients for picky eaters. The apple pie is relatively new. This is my second time making it and I have to say, it gets better every time. It’s outstanding. Not easy to make, definitely more involved than your average apple pie, but worth the extra effort. A friend gave this one too me (in fact, the friend from Dripping Springs!), and it’ll remain on the menu for a very long time.
Old Fashioned Apple Pie – Spago’s Recipe
Makes one 9-inch pie
Equipment: Rolling pin, 9-inch pie plate, 2 baking trays, 12-inch skillet or sauté pan, small bowl, pastry brush
- Basic Pie Dough I used Pillsbury Pie Dough. Love it.
- 5 pounds (13 – 14 medium) Granny smith apples, peeled and cored, each apple cut into wedges I’m trying 8 apples next time because even 10 was too much this last time. I cut the wedges into 8ths.
- 9 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon)
- 1 1/2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons Calvados or brandy of your choice (I went to our local liquor store and asked for the cheapeast, smallest bottle of brandy; worked out fine)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream plus a little extra for brushing over pastry
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Roll out the pastry. Butter, or coat with vegetable spray, a 9-inch pie plate. Divide the pastry into 2 pieces, one for the bottom of your pie, one for the top. Lay the bottom layer into the pan and press, removing all bubbles/gaps. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Make the filling: Cut each apple quarter into slices about 1/2 inch thick. You will be sautéing the apples in three batches. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch skillet. Arrange 1/3 of the apples in the skillet. Add 1/2 vanilla bean with its scrapings and sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over the apples. Over medium-high heat, sauté the apples until lightly caramelized and tender, about 15 minutes, turning often so that the apples cook as evenly as possible. Pour in 2 tablespoons Calvados and cook just until the alcohol burns off. (If the brandy ignites remove pan from heat or place cover over pan for a few seconds.) Pour in 1/4 cup cream, stir through, and cook 1 minute longer. Spread the contents of the skillet onto a large baking tray to cool while sautéing remaining apples. Wash and dry the skillet. Repeat the procedure 2 more times with remaining butter, apples, vanilla bean, sugar, cream and brandy.
3. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees [F].
4. Make the cinnamon sugar: In a small bowl or cup, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Set aside.
5. Remove lined pie plate and circle of pastry from refrigerator. Pile the cooled apples in the pie plate, mounding apples slightly in the middle. Roll circle of pastry over rolling pin and unroll over apples. With a sharp knife, cut away excess dough and gently pinch together the edges of the pastry. Cut 3 or 4 slits in top of pastry, brush with cream, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
6. Bake 15 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees [F] and bake until crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Cool on rack.
7. To serve: Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream or a dollop of whipped cream.