The trees are starting to show their true bright colors, the days are getting shorter and the nights are turning cool.
All these indicators can mean only one thing ... it's time for the apple harvest and freshly baked apple pie!
A large, aged macintosh apple tree in the backyard of the home where we lived until recently has provided great, albeit small, apples for my annual pie-making opportunity. By the looks of it, the apple tree was already old when we moved there nearly two decades ago, probably left behind from the acres and acres of farms that once occupied this now-residential area of Austintown Township.
Walnut apple pie is a great way to use the bounty of fall’s harvest for a dessert that says “fall.”
I always love to cook with my home-grown macintosh apples, but amid all the packing and unpacking, piles of boxes and all the other "fun" stuff that goes with relocating your home of 19 years, this year I just never got around to climbing up there to pick enough apples to make a few fresh pies.
No, this year I headed to the market for my apples, where I decided the time was right to try some other apples. No doubt Granny Smith is a good apple for baking, but after doing some quick online research, I thought I'd branch out a bit, and I settled instead on Pink Lady. Turns out, it was a good choice, not too tart and not too sweet. It also kept its firmness without becoming too mushy in the hot oven.
As a working mom, now in the midst of trying to unpack about a hundred boxes in a new home, I always look for shortcuts. Making pie shells from scratch is a wonderful thing, but here's a little secret: I have found Pillsbury's ready-made shells in the dairy aisle are every bit as good and, for those of us who love to cook but don't have a lot of time to do it, they are a whole lot quicker and easier.
Walnut Apple Pie
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup chopped walnuts (not too fine)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups fresh baking apples, peeled and cut into thin pieces (about 8 large, or 10 small apples)
2 unbaked pie crusts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat corn syrup in a small saucepan on stovetop, bringing just to a boil. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes stirring often. Add walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and continue to stir frequently until walnuts are coated. Remove from heat. Place one pie crust in a pie baking dish. Pour the walnut mixture into the bottom of the pie crust, sprinkle with nutmeg and salt, add apples (don't be afraid to heap them high) then top with other crust. Crimp edges to seal. Cut holes in top crust to vent.
Mix about two to three tablespoons of additional sugar with an equal amount of water to make a sugary paste. Spoon or paint the paste over the top of the pie shell before cooking.
Bake about 40 minutes. After about 15 minutes, check the edges of your pie crust. If they are getting too brown, carefully cover the edges with foil, leaving the center uncovered, and return to the oven to continue baking the full 40 minutes, or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.
Standard apple pie recipes are always good, but I also prefer to dress mine up with touches of caramel, pecans or walnuts.
This day I chose walnuts, and again, I think it was the right choice. There is just no beating that combination of fresh-baked apple, cinnamon and walnuts. Just like the falling leaves, walnut apple pie really means "fall" to me.