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For The Love Of Apples: Baking With And Enjoying New England's Favorite Fruit21:14
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McIntosh apples hang from a tree at Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Mass., in October 2012. (Steven Senne/AP)
McIntosh apples hang from a tree at Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Mass., in October 2012. (Steven Senne/AP)

Amy Traverso is a long-time friend of our show, and she's the senior food editor at Yankee Magazine. She's also an unabashed apple fan, and the author of a newly revised and updated "The Apple Lover's Cookbook." She takes listener calls on how to identify apples, buy them and how to eat and cook with them.

Apple Recipes from Amy

Blue-Ribbon Deep-Dish Apple Pie

"We love this recipe for Blue-Ribbon Deep-Dish Apple Pie. Add a slice of sharp cheddar cheese for an authentic New England apple experience.
When it comes to apple pie, the more fruit the merrier–except that the more apples you pile into the dish, the more likely you are to end up with a gap between crust, which sets early, and filling, which softens and shrinks. The answer, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, is to precook the apples a bit to 'set' their shape. The result is a deep-dish apple pie recipe that’s good enough for a bake-off: tall, beautifully domed, and filled to the top with juicy apples."

Total Time: 2 hours; 45 minutes
Hands-On Time: 1 hour; 15 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

For the crust:

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 18 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 6-8 tablespoons ice water
  • Milk (for brushing crust)

Instructions

First, make the crust: In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt until well combined. Sprinkle butter cubes over flour mixture, and use your fingers to smear them in. Stop when the mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water on top, and stir with a fork until dough begins to come together. If needed, add 1-2 tablespoons more ice water.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead three times, or just enough to make it cohesive. Don't overmix! Gather dough into a ball; then divide it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Press each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

For the filling:

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 pounds (about 5 large) firm-tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
  • 2-1/2 pounds (about 5 large) firm-sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light-brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425° and set one rack to the lowest position. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, stir apples with sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring gently, until apples just begin to turn tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove apples from heat, stir in cornstarch, and spread out on a large baking sheet. Place in your freezer to cool to room temperature, 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, unwrap the larger disk of dough and place it in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper. Cover with a second piece of parchment. Roll out, working from the center, to a 13-inch circle.

Peel off the top piece of parchment and transfer dough, peeled side down, to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Peel off the remaining parchment and press crust into the plate, draping any excess over the sides. Unwrap the smaller disk of dough and put it in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper. Cover with a second piece of parchment. Roll out to an 11-inch circle. Set aside.

Remove apples from the freezer, and use a spatula to transfer them, with any juices, into the pie plate. Peel the parchment off the top crust. Transfer, peeled side down, to the pie; then peel off the remaining parchment and, using a sharp knife, make three slashes in the crust to let steam escape. Fold the bottom crust up over the top crust and crimp to seal. Brush crust all over with milk and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar.

Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake on the lowest rack for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until the pie is golden brown, another 40-50 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before serving.

Serve deep-dish apple pie with vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped cream, or a slice of sharp Vermont cheddar cheese.

Apple notes: Any combination of firm-tart and firm-sweet apples is fine. I particularly like Northern Spy, Sierra Beauty, and Esopus Spitzenberg for tartness, and Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Jazz, and Jonagold for sweetness.

Grandma Mary’s Apple Crisp with Sweet Biscuit Topping

"My grandma Mary made this buttery, cinnamon-scented crisp every fall, and to me, it’s the flavor of home. This is her adaptation of a recipe from the November 1945 issue of Country Gentleman magazine; I still have the original, now tissue-thin and torn at the creases. I make it in summer or fall, filling it with whatever’s fresh: apples, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, raspberries, or pears. But it really is best with apples.

This is probably a different sort of apple crisp than you’re used to. It has a simple, sweet biscuit topping made with flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and eggs. That’s it. Just drizzle with the butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. In flavor and texture, it resembles a cross between a biscuit and a sugar cookie and I love it. You can serve it with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of heavy cream, or no topping at all."

Notes: You can cut your prep time in half by using an old-fashioned apple corer/peeler, which makes short work of cutting the apples into perfect, even slices. For the perfect texture, I like to mix tender-tart apples, such as McIntosh or Jonathan, with firm-sweet ones, such as Jazz, Pink Lady, or Jonagold. The tender apples cook down and create a sort of thick sauce, in which the firmer slices are suspended—a mixture of smoothness and texture.

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 10 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into1/4-inch-thick rings or slices (see Note)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and set a rack to the middle position. Arrange the sliced apples in an even layer in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (no need to grease it); set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the eggs and, using a fork or a pastry cutter, work in until crumbly. The mixture will look like streusel, with a mix of wet and dry bits. Have no fear; the eggs provide enough liquid.

Spread the topping evenly over the apples, then drizzle all over with the melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and apple juices are bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then serve warm from the pan.

Apple-Pear-Cranberry Crostata

"Apple-Pear-Cranberry Crostata — a  free-form tart filled with sliced apples, pears, and cranberries — is sweet and tangy, doesn’t require any fussiness on your part, and makes an impressive Thanksgiving centerpiece. It’s best served with vanilla ice cream."

Total Time: 45
Yield: 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 2 medium (or 1-1/2 large) firm, tart apples (such as Granny Smith or Northern Spy)
  • 1 large ripe pear (such as d'Anjou or Bartlett)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Flour for work surface
  • Pie Dough
  • 1/3 cup fresh or defrosted cranberries
  • 1 large egg, beaten well

Instructions

Heat oven to 400°. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Peel and cut pear into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Toss together in a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, and cloves; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll Pie Dough out into a circle about 16 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. (The circle doesn't have to be perfect.) Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Arrange half the apple and pear slices over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Sprinkle half the cranberries over the apples and pears. Sprinkle half the sugar mixture over fruit. Repeat with remaining fruit, berries, and sugar mixture.

Fold dough sides up and over edge of filling, letting dough drape over itself at each fold. Brush dough with beaten egg, and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon sugar.

Bake 10 minutes; then lower oven temperature to 375° and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Pie Dough

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, or 1/4 pound) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons very cold water

Instructions

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and sugar until well combined. Sprinkle butter cubes over flour mixture and use your fingers to combine ingredients until the dough looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining. (Work quickly so that the butter doesn't melt.)

Sprinkle yolk/water mixture over dough and stir with a fork until it begins to come together. If needed, add another tablespoon water.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 times. Gather dough into a ball; then press down into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

This segment aired on November 25, 2020.

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