A few times now, I’ve mentioned my good friends who have been planning their wedding.
Well folks, they finally went and done got hitched.
Mazel Tovs all around!
Back when Russell and I were married in June of 2013, our caterer’s mother baked us some pies for the dessert table at our wedding. Not only did having a variety of pies and treats alongside our cake look really festive and beautiful, but it felt like a really personal way to offer something extra for the sweets lovers at our reception.
I’ve also heard that there are some people in the world who don’t like cake, and as hard as I find that fact to believe, we thought this might be a nice way to make sure those people felt included. I mean, I don’t know why anyone who doesn’t like cake would have been at our wedding, but just in case we had pies and cookies for them to choose from too.
That aspect of our wedding ended up being something that our friends really really enjoyed, so when it came to planning their own wedding, they were inspired to do the same and enlisted me to help them with it. In last month’s #bundtbakers post I mentioned that I’d be baking a few things for their big day, and that my apple-pear-carrot-parsnip-packed spiced harvest bundt cake won out in little a pre-wedding cake tasting. I also said that in addition to the bundts, I’d be baking a couple pies too.
As you’ve probably guessed by now (the title of this post may have been a clue), the bride and groom-to-be decided on classic apple pies. Their wedding was in the Catskill mountains on October 12th, so apple pies really could not have been more appropriate for the occasion. The fall has always been my favorite time of year, as much for the weather and scenery as for the food and sweets so, truth be told, I was thrilled to have an excuse to bake so many fall desserts in one fell swoop!
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know my way around an apple pie. Growing up, my grandfather had a dozen or so apple trees on his property and this time of year there were always plenty of fresh apple pies coming from grandma’s oven. As soon as I learned to make pie crust from scratch I set to mastering apple pie for myself.
Over the years, I’ve baked approximately 42.6 million apples pies, so at this point I think I have my technique pretty well figured out.
I mean, I actually think that apple pie is kind of a personal thing, and different people like theirs made different ways. Myself, I tend to like a pie with a healthy amount of spice and a nice lemony boost. A lot of recipes recommend a bit of lemon juice, but I usually use a bit more and add the zest too because I think it adds a really interesting floral quality that I love. I also tend to use sweet soft apples that benefit from the extra bit of acidity.
When it comes to the apples, there are a lot of options out there. A lot of people like to use Granny Smiths because of their balanced acidity and subtle sweetness, but personally I think their flavor is a bit flat, and their flesh a bit too firm for my liking. When I first started experimenting with different types of apples for pie, a few varieties quickly moved to the top of my list. If you like a firmer apple, Braeburns have a great flavor for pie. If you want an apple that softens a bit but still retains a good bite when baked, I think Golden Delicious are ideal. If you like something a bit softer when baked, McIntosh and Cortlands are some of my favorites, but they produce a bit more water so a bit more flour may be needed to keep the pie from getting soggy.
If you want to get really next level and pack your pie with as much complex apple-y flavor as possible, I recommend that you mix a few varieties together. For these pies I used a half and half mix of McIntosh and Golden Delicious, but you can play around and decide what you like best yourself.
With the pies and bundts baked and ready to go, Russell and I piled into a car and made the short trip up to the Catskills for the wedding. The scenery was almost as stunning as the wedding itself. Our friends though, would not be outshone.
It was such an absolutely beautiful day. Every aspect of their wedding was perfect. Their vows were some of the most meaningful beautiful words I’ve ever heard, and there were gorgeous personal touches at every turn. I only wish I could have gotten more photos. Alas, I was too busy enjoying myself. Sorry guys!
I was able to sneak a few shots in though, and I’ve shared a few of my favorites below.
Check out the insanely beautiful centerpieces at the reception. I can’t even.
In the name of blogging, I made damn certain to get in a few shots of their dessert table so you could see it in all it’s glory. Just like the rest of their wedding, every detail was too adorable and perfect for words.
The bundts and pies were a huge hit. Having these homemade treats alongside their wedding cake was such an inspired way to make their dessert table feel more personal and thoughtful. Being surrounded by the stunning fall foliage of the Catskills, these desserts also brought that fall feeling into their reception in a really special way.
This apple pie is packed with sweet soft tender apples, a really healthy amount of spice, and a great citrusy floral twist from the lemon zest and juice. The all butter crust is the perfect compliment to the flavor of the baked apples; tender, crisp, flaky, and oh-so-buttery. To give the pie a bit of shine, an egg wash is brushed on before baking, and some coarse sugar sprinkled over the top adds a beautiful sparkle.
I’m going to go ahead and say that this is the perfect fall dessert. As well as being an incredible compliment to a wedding dessert table, this recipe would be an ideal addition your Thanksgiving spread. Just sayin’.
Classic Apple Pie
All-butter pie crust
makes enough for 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust pies
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
(up to) 1 cup ice cold water
Stir or whisk together flour, sugar, & salt in a medium bowl. If you have time, toss the bowl in the freezer for a 15 or 20 minutes. Cube the butter, add it to the chilled flour, and cut it in with a pastry blender, until it looks like coarse pea sized chunks. You can also do this by pulsing in a food processor. If you took very long to cut the butter in, you can toss the bowl back in the freezer for another 15 minutes, but if the butter is still firm and cold, don’t bother.
Start mixing in the water and stirring and tossing with a fork to distribute and combine. Try starting with about 1/2 cup, mix together, and add about a tablespoon or two at a time, until it starts to come together. The less water you use the better and flakier the crust will be, but you don’t want to use so little that it won’t hold together. If you can press it together with your hands and it mostly stays in a ball, with a few little bits crumbling out, you’re good to go.
Divide the dough into to balls, and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Try to handle it as little as possible so as not to warm or melt the butter. Press or pat the covered balls of dough into thick disks and refrigerate for at least an hour or two (or up to a few days)
Classic apple pie
3 1/2 to 4 lbs apples (I used about 1/2 golden delicious and 1/2 macintosh, but cortlands & braeburns are great too)
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 cup of sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons flour (4 for juicy soft apples like mcintosh or cortland, 3 for other varieties)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into several pieces
1 egg, beaten
2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sugar
Preheat your oven to 375.
On a well floured surface, roll out the first disk crust and line a 9.5 or 10 inch pie dish. Place the dish in the refrigerator while you prepare your apples.
Peel, core, and thinly slice your apples and place in a large bowl with lemon juice and zest, sugar, flour, and spices. Gently toss to combine. Transfer the apples into the pastry lined pie dish, and dot the apples with the butter. Roll out the other disk of crust and either top the filled pie with it and cut slits to vent the pie, or cut the crust into strips to make a lattice crust. If you’re interested, follow this link for a lattice crust tutorial. Either way, once the pie is topped, trim the edges to about 1/2 inch overhang, roll it under itself, and crimp the edges to seal the top and bottom crusts together.
Brush the top crust with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. You’ll want to arrange the oven racks so one is in the middle, and one is just beneath it. Put a foil lined tray on the lower rack to catch any potential drips and spills. It will likely boil over a little. Place the pie on the middle rack and bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until well browned and nice and bubbly and smelling like heaven.
I’d recommend, especially with McIntosh or Cortland apples, that you let the pie rest for at least a few hours before slicing or it may be watery. I usually make mine a day ahead and reheat them just slightly in the oven if I want to serve them warm.