Apple Cream Pie

Apple Cream Pie

I love this time of year! The weather, color, gatherings with friends and family,Braeburn and golden delicious apples in a bowl. and the food! Thanksgiving in the US is just a few weeks out and menu planning at White House Red Door is well underway. Truth be told, the planning is not too difficult, as the menu has pretty much remained unchanged since my childhood. It’s not that my parents, siblings, or my own family don’t like to try new foods, or experiment; Christmas dinners, Easter brunches, and other traditional meals vary from year to year, but Thanksgiving has always remained the same, well at least the main dish and sides. There would be a “coup de cuisine” if candied yams weren’t on the table. That said, desserts are an entirely different story. We are far more flexible in our after dinner fare thinking. Friends often join us for dessert, bringing their favorite treats, creating a beautiful cornucopia of desserts.

One pie that has made appearances off and on through the years is my mom’s Apple Cream Pie. Quite unlike a traditional double crust apple pie, Tarte Tatin, or apple crisp, which have all shown up to the party over the years, this pie features tender slices of apples nestled in a bed of creamy custard. Traditional enough for the purists but outside the box enough for those wanting something new or different. For reasons unknown, this pie has not been in attendance for some time, and I’ve never made it myself. Curious to give it a go, I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered and should be included on the menu this year. Without a doubt, it was and will be.

Women's Day Encyclopedia of CookeryConversations with mom revealed that the original recipe came from a long out of print encyclopedia like set of cookbooks from Women’s Day, actually called Encyclopedia of Cookery. My mom still has her set and found an identical set at a tag sale years ago that she gave to me as a gift. It turns out the recipe for this wonderful pie has been sitting in the vintage set of cookbooks, in my own house, for years.

The pie is simply elegant, with few ingredients, quite light and perfect after a heavy meal. I’ve taken the original recipe and updated it somewhat by adding a cinnamon stick, star anise, and cardamom pod to the stewing liquid. These additions infuse the simple syrup, and eventually the cream, with classic flavors and aromas that pair well with the apples. After making the cream pie for dessert this week and receiving all round approval, it will now regularly appear not only on our holiday tables, but throughout the fall and winter.

What desserts will show up on your table this year? Are you a traditionalist serving the same menu each year, or do you like to mix it up?

Apple Cream Pie

Apple Cream Pie

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients:
5 cooking apples, peeled and sliced into eighths
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 anise star
1 cardamom pod
Pastry for one 9” pie crust, unbaked
1 egg
½ cup heavy cream

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Put apples in a saucepan with sugar, water, cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until apples are tender, about 10 minutes. While apples are simmering, line a 9” pie plate with crust, decoratively crimping edges and place in freezer until needed.

When apples are tender, remove and place them in a strainer set over a bowl to catch any juices. Continue to simmer syrup left in saucepan until reduced to approximately ½ cup. To that add any syrup caught from draining apples.

After apples have cooled slightly, place in the pie pan lined with pastry. Beat egg and cream together and stir in reserved syrup. Pour over apples. Transfer to oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until custard is set- the center will be slightly jiggly, but will continue to firm up as it cools. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Peeled apples, cut into eighths.
Peel the apples and cut them into eighths.
Apples with sugar, water, cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod in a saucepan.
Add sugar, water, cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod.
Simmering apples in sugar syrup with cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod.
Simmer apples until tender, about 10 minutes.
Apple syrup in measuring cup, with apples draining in sieve.
Drain apples, reserving any syrup, you should have about 1/2 cup of apple syrup.
Apples placed in the bottom of a pie plate lined with pastry.
After apples have cooled slightly, place them in the bottom of a pie plate line with pastry.
Egg, cream and syrup mixture poured over the apples.
Egg, cream, and syrup mixture is poured over the apples. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350°F oven until custard is set.
Apple Cream Pie cooling on a wire rack.
When the custard is set, remove the pie and place on a wire rack for cooling.
Apple Cream Pie dusted with powdered sugar.
If desired, dust the Apple Cream Pie with powdered sugar before serving.

Roasted Pumpkin Purée

Sugar PumpkinBeing part of a CSA has so many benefits… supporting and connecting with local farmers while picking up my weekly share under a tent in a field is far more interesting than maneuvering the aisles of the grocery store, and enjoying veggies that were literally just picked earlier that day, they don’t get any fresher and more delicious! Because the nature of a CSA promotes a “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset” mentality, another benefit is that I’m challenged to finds ways to use vegetables that I normally would pass by, as well as the ones that I don’t care for (I’m talking to you zucchini).

Each fall, sugar or pie pumpkin make appearances in our CSA pick up. At first I was intimidated, my hands on experience with pumpkin was limited to a once a year carving for Halloween, followed by roasting the seeds. The only other pumpkin I had ever used in the kitchen came from a can. But stretched to do something with this new addition to the weekly pick up, I found myself roasting pumpkins. It couldn’t be any easier. Lately, more and more sugar and pie pumpkins are showing up at the grocery store, so I can’t be the only one using them. And while definitely not necessary because canned pumpkin is so good (though it may not be all “pumpkin”), roasting your own pumpkin is fun to try.

***Important note- Do NOT use jack-o-lantern pumpkins, they are far too watery! Instead, look for small sugar or pie pumpkins, usually in the 3-6lb range.***

Pumpkin Purée

Roasted Pumpkin Purée

  • Servings: approximately 3 cups
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Ingredients:
1 sugar or pie pumpkin, 3-6lbs

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.

Remove stem and cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds (save and roast later) and using a spoon, scrape out stringy pulp. Cut each half in half, so that you have 4 quarters.

Transfer pumpkin quarters to lined baking sheet. Roast until fork tender, about 45 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and purée in a food processor or simply mash it.

Use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin or pumpkin purée. This purée also freezes well.

Sugar pumpkin halved and seeded.
Using a large chef’s knife, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Remember to save the seeds for roasting.
Scrape away any stringy pulp and discard. Place the pumpkin pieces on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Scrape away any stringy pulp and discard. Place the pumpkin pieces on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Roasted pumpkin quarters on sheet pan.
Pumpkin is done when it is easily pierced with a fork.
Roasted pumpkin being scooped out.
When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.
Pumpkin Purée
Either purée in a food processor or mash. Use as you would in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin or pumpkin purée.