First off, my friend/coworker Jen and I are taking a work trip out to L.A. on Thursday and Friday. We’ll be carrying four giant checks with us to present to a school as prizes for our art contest. Two of my close high school friends live in L.A., so we’re going to spend some time with them. Does anyone have any suggestions on must-sees, amazing restaurants, or anything else for us? This’ll be my first trip to L.A., and California, and Jen’s second I think.
I’ve kind of wanted to name baked goods after songs or bands. Saturday night, as the National rocked my world in concert (I may have had a religious transcendental experience or two … I swear, and I totally touched Matt when he came into the crowd and walked around as he sang the last song), I came up with my first baked good with a song name after The National’s “Fake Empires.”
Stay out super late tonight
Picking apples, making pies
Put a little something in our lemonade and take it with us
We’re half awake in a fake empire
Hence, Fake Empires Apple Pie. Oh hey, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s an apple called the empire apple.
I don’t have a strong attachment to how apple pie should taste. It doesn’t evoke childhood memories for me. But I know it does for so many people. Apple pie is one of those dishes that people feel very strongly about. It’s a classic, an all-American standby. So, though I contemplated doing things like throwing in some rum or mixing in ribbons of caramel sauce, I didn’t. I figured best to get down the standard, delicious apple pie first because that’s what people love. You don’t mess with a classic until you know it well. So I figured I’d need at least two attempts at this pie before it was worthy of bringing to a Coffin or Goodman Thanksgiving. Lo and behold, I fricking hit the jackpot on my FIRST TRY. You guys, this pie, it’s sweet and tart, it’s gooey, it tastes like autumn, dare I say it? It’s a classic.
A quick note on the apples you may want to use. I highly suggest either finding a local orchard and picking your own or buying local apples at your farmers market or grocery. You usually want to use some tart apples and some sweet apples. You can’t go wrong with Golden Delicious/Granny Smith mix. If you want to get creative, here are some tips. For a nice mix of sweet and tart, use Jonathan, Stayman-Winesap, Cox’s Orange Pippin, or Jonagold. Straight up sweet choices are Golden Delicious Braeburn, Fuji, Mutsu, Pink Lady, Suncrisp, Rome Beauty, or Empire.Tart baking apples are Idared, Macoun, Newton Pippin, Granny Smith, and Northern Spy. Stay away from apples that become mushy when cooked like McIntosh and Cortland.
And a quick note on your filling not being soupy. (I’ve had this problem and it BLOWS.) Bake the pie until the filling is really bubbling. This will give your thickening agent (flour, tapioca, or cornstarch) time to activate and work. To prevent the crust and top from burning, make a little tent over the top of the pie with foil about 15 minutes in. Let the pie cool ALL THE WAY, like an hour at least, before you slice into it to let all the juices thicken up.
Fake Empires Apple Pie
For the pie
- a single pie crust (I used the lardy lard butter crust but the weather is cooling off to all-butter crust weather, too)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 6-8 apples, peeled, cored, sliced, and slices halved
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3-4 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
- 3/4 cup apple cider
For the crumble topping
- 8 tablespoons/1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup flour
1. Preheat the oven to 475°. Toss all the ingredients for the pie (minus the crust…) together in a large bowl. Let them marinate into goodness for up to half an hour.
2. In a medium bowl, combine all the crumble topping ingredients with a hand mixer on low speed until the butter pieces are pea-sized.
3. Roll out your pie crust and set it in a pie pan. With a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg onto the bottom of the crust. (we all hate a soggy bottom, don’t we?)
4. Carefully pour the apple filling into the crust. Spread the crumble topping over the apples.
5. Put the pie in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 375° and cover the pie with a foil tent. Bake for another 35 minutes. Let cool completely.