Thursday, November 12, 2009



As Summer swirls into Autumn, the golden days alternating with the gray, a ray of sunshine and the perfect blue sky peeking through the gloomy darkness when allowed, I dream of Florida winters. 9 months of unrelenting heat pounding down, the sharp light bouncing off of the cement burning my eyes, running barefoot into the chilly air-conditioned house, feeling the cool terrazzo floors underneath and heading straight for the kitchen, a cold drink or a popsicle, another Florida summer slowly coming to an end. Autumn, then Winter, all blended into one, would sneak up on us, air conditioner clicked off, sweaters dug out of drawers, the striped woolen blankets would finally be pulled out of the hall closet and Sunday mornings I’d wake up to the divine smell of oatmeal simmering on the stove. Hauntingly dark mornings, the moving clocks on tv, the camera slowly panning left to right, time, temperature, barometer, then right to left, back again. 29 degrees! Oooh, a cold bike ride to school, wind whipping my hair, turning cheeks and noses bright pink. The icy darkness morphing into cool, bright afternoons, high in the 50’s, sweaters tossed into bike bags and off we’d ride back home, another school day done and gone, the sunny, gloriously frosty afternoon stretched out before us to do with as we please.

Or weekend mornings, bundled up after the oatmeal reinforcement, huge steaming bowls with lots of brown sugar and raisins and a pat of butter melting into a deep yellow puddle, if you please, or toasted cherry Pop Tarts slathered with salted butter, Andrew and I would walk around the neighborhood looking at all the Christmas decorations slowly going up and laugh hysterically at the stalagmites formed on front lawns, beautiful sculptures of sprinkler systems forgotten, left on overnight. Excited preparations for Hanukkah and helping the neighbors decorate their Christmas tree when their kids got too old.

For most, the advent of Autumn meant chestnuts and pumpkin, apples and pears, poached, sautéed and pied. For this Florida girl, the cold weather meant citrus: oranges and grapefruit, tangerines by the bagful, pick your own or grab a couple of sacks at the roadside stand. We’ve said our sad good-byes to the watermelons of summer, peaches and plums have faded away, and we pack into the station wagon and head over the bridge to the citrus orchards. Grapefruit halves nestled into dessert bowls, each section carefully cut away from the tough membrane, sprinkled with just enough sugar to heighten the natural sweetness, a tiny jewel-like maraschino cherry for decoration. Or a lapful of tangerines, my favorite seasonal afternoon snack.

Pumpkin, like cherry and apple filling, came from a can and was reserved for Thanksgiving. Cranberries I discovered in 7th-grade Home Ec class when I learned to make Cranberry Muffins; if not, cranberry relish eaten at the holidays also came from a can. Michael made me my first homemade Cranberry Relish, but, again, that was during my college years. Once away from home, all grown up, a whole new world opened up before me as I left Florida and headed to colder climes. I began making sweet potato pies and pumpkin breads, true Autumn fare. But apples? My sister remembers an apple pie mom used to make but I swear I have no memory of it. Apples eaten in Autumn came with my husband. Sunday mornings find him lined up in front of the organic apple stand and walking home with a basketful of mixed: Boskoop and Reine de Reinettes, Golden and Gala. The sharp paring knife expertly flicking of the peel in cool ringlets, cored and sliced into chunks, eaten the French way with a slice of bread and a chunk of cheese. And, of course, Autumn has him asking for apple treats warm from the oven, apple pie and apple coffee cake or a moist cake, spiced with cinnamon and studded with meltingly tender chunks of apples. A pumpkin pie will certainly do, but if he has his druthers, an apple pie would be pulled steaming out of the oven once a week to be laid gingerly on the table in front of him.

And I wish my sister were here to share. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” says the old adage, yet doesn’t hold true here. The apples are turned into pie and Sue is the one doctor that I love to see! Of course, no poking or prodding only eating and laughing! Truly the best medicine! And her and JP get along like a house on fire! She first came to visit us about 23 years ago, before we were married, just about this time of year, the air chilly yet the sky clear and bright. We made Chocolate Tartlets together and would sit outside in the garden sipping homemade citron pressées. JP drove us out to the coast, to Dieppe, where we, all bundled up in jackets, ran the dog along the seaside, pounding through the wet sand, the wind whipping us all around, blowing our laughter through the air and carrying it away like dancing ghosts. Then we went for steaming, fragrant bowls of Moules, the specialty of Dieppe, served with heaping piles of frites. We visited Rouen, painted by Monet and the site where Jeanne d’Arc burned. I’d love for her to join us digging in to warm apple pie served, of course, with a scoop of chocolate ice cream or mounds of freshly whipped cream.

One, two, three, four apple recipes, a new one to try each week of the season. Autumn, my favorite season, leaves turning golden and deep red and purple, wet walks through the forest hoping to stumble upon mushrooms nestled amongst the moss and tree roots, coming home to a cozy living room, rugby on tv, plate of apple pie in hand and a warm dog. JP on the sofa and Sue on Skype, giggling like two school girls, she and I, still amazed at the Jetson-style conversation we are having across continents, and the smell of fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie like an ode to the best of times, a song to Autumn memories.


Apples chunked and stirred into a sour cream/crème fraîche custard-type filling in a pie crust with an Autumn-y hint of apple cider.

For the crust:
2 ½ cups (375 g) flour
5 Tbs (75 g) sugar
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
12 Tbs (175 g) unsalted butter, cubed
12 – 15 Tbs apple juice or cider

Stir the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal or sand.

Moisten with just enough of the apple juice or cider, adding a few tablespoons at a time and tossing with a fork, until all the dry ingredients are moistened and can be gathered into a ball of dough.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead quickly, adding a bit more flour if needed to form a workable homogenous dough, not sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the filling:
6 or 7 apples, sweet, slightly tart and perfect for baking (I used half Reine de Reinettes and half Tentation which are like Golden just a bit sweeter)
2/3 cup (175 ml) sour cream, crème fraîche, fromage frais or quark
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbs (30 g) flour

2 Tbs (30 g) packed dark brown sugar
Either 1 cup walnut of pecan pieces, coarsely chopped or ½ cup (50 g) ground almonds

Peel and core the apples. Slice then chunk coarsely. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and flour. Add the apple chunks to the sour cream mixture and toss until all of the apple chunks are coated with the liquid.

Prepare the pie:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Remove the crust dough from the refrigerator and cut off 2/3 of the dough for the bottom crust. Roll out this larger quantity of dough into a circle that will fit and line a 9” (23 cm) pie dish. Butter the bottom of the pie dish and, after making sure the circle of dough will fit the pie plate, roll it over your rolling pin and drape it evenly on top of the pie dish.

Carefully lift the edges of the dough up and down into the pie dish, gently pressing the bottom down and into the inside edge of the plate before pressing the dough around the edges. Once the plate is well-lined with dough, use your rolling pin to cut off the excess dough/overhang. Crimp.

Pour the apples in the sour cream filling into the prepare pie dough and push them around until they are evenly distributed and all the gaps are filled with apples.

Blend the dark brown sugar and either the chopped or ground nuts and stir together. Sprinkle this liberally and evenly all over the apples in the pie dish.

Adding the excess dough to the remaining 1/3 of the dough, roll out into a circle the diameter of the pie dish or slightly larger. Using a pizza slicer or sharp knife, cut the dough into even strips. Form a lattice over the apple filling in the dish.

Using every other strip from the cut circle of dough, space them evenly across the top of the pie, leaving the edges hanging loosely over the edge of the pie.

Start the lattice work in the center, working your way out. Pull back every other strip and, using the longest of the remaining cut strips (the center one) lay it across the center of the pie like this.

Lower the upturned strips and lay on top of the perpendicular strip...

... and lift up the alternating strips that are now underneath the perpendicular strip.

And continue, lifting alternating strips and laying new strips perpendicular across the remaining strips. And so one until you get to the end.

Rotate the pie and do the same for the other half.

Trim the edges of the dough and press the strips into the bottom crust, following the crimping.

Bake the pie for 50 – 60 minutes (it depends on your oven) until apple filling is bubbly and the crust is evenly browned. The bottom of the crust should be evenly browned (golden) all over. If the top crust/lattice is browned you want to check the bottom of the pie: very carefully lift out the pie from the oven and check bottom of the pie. If it isn’t browned, place the pie back in the oven and cover the top of the pie with foil so it doesn’t over-brown.


ABowlOfMush said...

DELICIOUS! Really looks lovely! I think an apple pie a day couldn't hurt :)

diva said...

oh wow your apple pie recipe is LUSH. with creme fraiche? tht totally tops it. sweet pics and i love the way you write. it's kinda haunting and so moving ;) xx

Heavenly Housewife said...

Wow, isn't this gorgeous! Love that you used creme fraiche! You are so talented, this looks amazing!

Katherine Aucoin said...

Beautiful pie and I like your philosphy!

Maria said...

Apple treats are my favorite. Lovely pie!

bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) said...

So beautiful! I love apple pie and I MISS FLORIDA SOOO MUCH! I loved your description of "running in from the heat feeling the cool terrazo flooring!" brought back really nice memories!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A lovely pie! I'd love a slice right now...

I eat an apple every day, so I hope it'll keep the doctor away ;-P!



The Active Foodie said...

What a delicious looking apple pie! I could dig into this right now!!!

Mary said...

This really does look lovely. I also explored your recipe for apple coffee cake which I'll be trying this weekend. I love to visit here. The company is wonderful.

Jamie said...

@Mary Oh, you are so sweet and that makes me so happy. And the yeast-dough braided apple coffee cake with orange glaze is our favorite! Do try it!

Daily Spud said...

Fabulous. Apples are hands down my favourite fruit to use in a dessert. I grew up in a household where we always had our own apples in autumn, so we would have stewed apples, apple crumble and apple tarts with great regularity. I never tired of them - still don't!

Jamie said...

@Daily Spud - you make a great argument for apples! They are so versatile! Apple crumble: yes,yum!

Sarah said...

Beautiful recipe! I love apples and anyhting that is a fruit based dessert is fabulous in my book!!

Colloquial Cook said...

bahhhhhhh! c'est pas juuuuuste! j'ai trop faim!!! Look at that lattice top - very glamourous/see-through.

Jenn said...

Now this is an apple I couple eat once (maybe twice) a day.

Sophie said...

Your apple pie looks quite decadent & ooh so georgous, doesn't it???

Lovely pictures as usual!

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Oh Jamie, you do know the way to my heart! Divine and yummy!

Katy ~ said...

Apple pie is a personal favorite; this pie looks sensational!

Barbara Bakes said...

Another wonderful post! I often dream of Florida winters as an escape from our snow. The pie sounds like a wonderful fall treat!

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

What a gorgeous pie! You make it look so easy. If only I had your way with pastry.

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

I'm back! Sorry about the giveaway - the publishers are sending out the books - but your Mom's address will work!

doggybloggy said...

what a beauty- and the creme fraiche - wow that must make it so nice!

The Cooking Photographer said...

I don't know what apple pie your mom baked Jamie, but there is no way it could beat this one with creme fraiche.

What did your sister thing? Was it just plain apple?


Elra said...

Very pretty and delicious sounding apple pie.

Donna-FFW said...

What an absolutely gorgeous apple pie. Love thats its baked with a custard. Lovely lattice work as well!!!

zurin said...

that s a beautiful Pie Jamie. I love apples...actually eat one everyday but an apple pie certainly wouldnt hurt! :))

btw I love your olie photos too...really lovely ;)

5 Star Foodie said...

This apple pie sounds amazing! I'm loving the crème fraîche custard filling, sounds just heavenly!

Cristie said...

I've spent a Christmas in Florida and your post brought back some sweet memories of picking oranges with my dad. Beautiful post, love the apple pie.

Deeba PAB said...

You make everything come so alive.I feel like apple pie is knocking at mah door Jamie! Gorgeous recipe...and awwesome tutorial. What shall Iuse if I don't have creme fraiche?
I'd love a slice of that pie now...

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Looks totally delicious. I love apple pie cold from the fridge for breakfast. :)

buffalodick said...

Michigan- I live in the land of apples..your prose and pie are superb..

Happy cook said...

Till now i have never made a pie,I am always afraid when i make one tge bottom might be too soggy. this one looks so so yumm.
I am sure bookmarking this.

Madame Sucre said...

LOL I loved the title of this post! :)

You are a genious in all you write! You are also awarded a Kreative Blogger award over at my blog!

mlaiuppa said...

I love making pie. Apple and cherry are my favorite.

I never thought of putting cinnamon in the crust. Or using apple juice instead of water. Fabulous.

My favorite pie apples are Pippins. I love to eat them plain too.

Lauren @CoffeeMuffins said...

My man loves Apple Pie and I don't make it nearly often enough. Again this is a perfect autumn pie, I think I know what I am making tomorrow now :)

Murasaki Shikibu said...

This looks gorgeous. I was looking for a nice apple pie recipe and this just might be it!

Junglefrog said...

I love good apple pie!! And this sure looks like one to try..
I gave you an award Jamie as I love love your blog and think you're awsome... You can come and pick it up at my blog.

Chef Jeena said...

Wow Jamie another fabulous recipe! You are a great baker, I would love a slice of this pie, the pastry is perfection!

Cathy said...

Apple pie is a favorite here and I usually make it the same old way mom did. I love the addition of creme fraiche to the filling and can't wait to try it. I especially like that you combined several varieties of apples.

Soma said...

Mmmmmmmm.. I can almost smell it here! How lovely.

Julia @Mélanger said...

What a delicious apple pie that is dripping of autumn. I love your words and sentiment.

MeetaK said...

jamie - this is an amazing looking pie! what can i say your description and writing makes me vividly see the pictures in front of me. love you! the filling here is giving me ideas for something. i need to quickly go and write it down before it disappears!

Sophie said...


This apple pie looks fabulous, as allways!!

A lovely story too!

I have sent your package on its way this afternoon!
I hope yoy will like it!! It is a LARGE package!
It will be there between 4 to 8 days!!

Sylvia said...

What a amazing blog!!! Congrats.
Love such themes and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.Your pie sounds delicious with the sour cream mix.

The Duo Dishes said...

Your lattice is awesome. It's like perfection. We just slap dough on top because it's easy. :)

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, while you know my heart belongs to all things chocolate, there is something about a gorgeous fruit pie that just cannot be beat. YUM!


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