Of Apple Pie, Thanksgiving, and Little White Lies
The other day I was giving an interview on live radio - about the
zillioneth since the release of my new cookbook, Apple Pie Perfect, two
months ago - when
the show's host said to me: "Ken, since you wrote the book on apple pie,
tell our listeners what sort of apple pie you'll be baking for Thanksgiving
I'll bet it's one of your favorites."
At which point I told a little white lie. I said: "Well, Celeste, I'll
probably be making
my delicious Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping, from page
76" - this
because I thought it would be a little too decadent to tell the truth: "I'm
really cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, Celeste, because I'm flying
off to an
incredibly gorgeous resort in Hawaii, all expenses paid, to give a couple of
baking demonstrations" - something I thought I'd have a hard time saying
sounding as if I wanted to tack a "So there!" at the end of it.
I said that this was a little white lie, on the grounds that if I was
actually going to
be home in Annapolis this Thanksgiving, I would most likely be preparing
apple-cherry pie of mine. Apple Pie Perfect has 100 recipes for apple pie,
signature dessert. And, much as I'm often asked, I find it all but
impossible to play
favorites. But this pie does hold a special place in my heart. Not to
mention the fact
that it's so darn fetching. (Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Perfect was given a nice review in the November 18th issue of People
magazine, and this
was the photo they used.)
Now perhaps you're thinking: Why the dickens an apple-cherry pie this time
of year? And
you'd have a point: Cherries aren't exactly in season right now. Indeed, the
appears in the summer chapter of Apple Pie Perfect. My only defense, if one
is that I don't believe the Thanksgiving menu needs to be a model of logic
correctness. I believe there's a little room for the unexpected. And since
the rest of the
menu is likely to be fairly traditional, a surprise ending may be quite
We put this lovely apple-cherry filling in my Best Butter Pie Pastry, which
I prepare in
the food processor. If you don't have one, simply adapt the recipe to the
you're used to: mix the dry ingredients in a bowl; cut in the butter with a
then add the liquid. As for the topping, this one is a crunchy, golden brown
flour, sugar, butter, coconut and almonds. It all tastes so heavenly that I
the last thing that will cross your mind - or the minds of your guests - is
the fact cherries
aren't currently in season.
Happy Thanksgiving. And let me know how you enjoy the pie. You can reach me
web site, applepieperfect.com
Best Butter Pie Pastry
This is the workhorse of my pie pastry repertoire. It has a great buttery
flavor, it's easy
to roll, and holds its shape beautifully in the pan - everything you could
in a great bottom crust.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
About 3 tablespoons cold water
1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several
times to mix.
Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse
repeatedly - 6 or 7 one-second bursts - until the butter is broken in very
2. Place the egg yolk in a 1-cup glass measure and add just enough of the
equal 1/4 cup liquid. Using a fork, blend the water and yolk.
Remove the lid
of the food processor and pour the liquid over the entire surface of the dry
Don't, in other words, pour it into one spot. Pulse the machine again, in
until the pastry starts to form large clumps. Don't overprocess, or the
start to melt rather than stay in small pieces. Tear off a sheet of plastic
14 inches long and place it nearby.
3. Empty the crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, pack the
dough as you
would a snowball. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, right in the bowl. Put the
the center of the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disk about 3/4 inch
thick. The edges will probably crack slightly; just pinch and mold them back
smooth disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate until firm enough
about 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
Makes enough pastry for one 9-inch deep-dish pie shell
Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping
You can use either frozen, thawed cherries here, or drained canned cherries.
If the former,
do make sure to have them at room temperature before mixing them into the
the pastry will cook much faster than the filling. Use your favorite pie
apples here. I
like Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Winesap, Jonagold, Cortlands, and many
1 recipe Best Butter Pie Pastry (above), refrigerated
5 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
3 cups pitted and halved cherries (see headnote)
2 tablespoons amaretto (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Coconut Almond Crumb Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon milk or light cream
1. If you haven't already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate it until firm
roll, about 45 minutes or so.
2. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13
circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a
pie pan. Center it, then peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the
without stretching it, and sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Put
the pie shell
in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
3. To make the filling, combine the apples, cherries, amaretto, vanilla, and
in a large mixing bowl; toss well. Mix in 1/2 cup of the sugar. Set
10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the
over the fruit and toss well. Turn the filling into the frozen pie shell.
filling with your hands to even it out. Place directly on the center oven
bake for 35 minutes.
5. While the pie bakes, make the topping. Put the flour, sugar, salt,
coconut in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid
the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly,
mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the milk and pulse again until the crumbs
gravelly in texture. Refrigerate.
6. After 35 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and place it on a large,
sheet covered with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 375
dump the crumbs in the center of the pie and spread them evenly over the
your hands. Press on the crumbs gently, to compact them. Put the pie on the
in the oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge,
another 35 to 40
7. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for a least 1 hour before
Makes 8 to 10 servings