I can’t believe how quickly 2011 is going. Fall–my favorite season–is in full swing, and fighting valiantly to keep winter at bay. This year is really the first year I’ve been able to enjoy fall since 2006. The hell otherwise known as law school consumed fall in 2007-2009, and studying for the patent bar ate fall 2010.
But Fall 2011 and I are buddies. Well, as much as we can be, considering how much time I spend holed up in my office like a photophobic mole rat. Lately it’s been cold and rainy here, but a couple weeks ago The Boy and I were lucky enough to sneak away to Hood River for the weekend. It was an amazing fall weekend and the weather was great. We ate, we drank, we rode on the train (squee!), and most importantly for baking purposes, we traversed The Fruit Loop.
See, Hood River is famous for its apples and pears, and they’re never any better than they are in the fall. No waxy, grainy, been-stored-in-a-cold-room-for-eight-months fruit here!
There’s approximately eleventy million different fruit stands on The Fruit Loop. Naturally, I wanted to stop at every one…because if the fruit is amazing at one stand, just imagine how amazing it is at the next one!!! But after just a couple of stops, I had enough fruit to feed a small army…and somehow The Boy managed to convince me that the world would not end if I did not stop at every fruit stand.
Well, Hood River was two weeks ago. My metric ton of apples and pears has been languishing in a bag on the kitchen floor ever since. (Thanks a heap, Grownup Job.) That all changed this afternoon…
Again, the secret of my crust will go to the grave with me. But I will say that when it comes to apple pie, don’t skimp on the fruit. I always use 6-8 apples, depending on their size. The dish should be heaped full of apples before it goes into the oven. If not, you will have a sad, deflated little pie with nowhere near enough delicious filling.
Another trick to apple pie is do not fear spice! Of course you have to use cinnamon, but I’ve also used cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, etc…anything in that family of spices can only add to the character and complexity of the dish. Experimentation is key, but go light on the cardamom–it really packs a punch.
Finally, when the pie is done and out of the oven, I like to roll out the extra pie crust, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar, and bake it for 10-12 minutes at about 350 degrees. But be warned–it’s pretty much crack. Your butt will not thank you.
So, fall baking with apples: Check. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all those pears, pumpkin, and zucchini I’ve got laying around…stay tuned!