Apple Pies for Strange Times

These are strange days. I find myself baking more than usual. Like everyone else, politics have been on my mind and I feel anxious about the future. Yesterday Bryan’s parents and my mom were over and I baked this apple pie for the occasion.

As we sat around eating and talking, the topic quickly turned to the presidential race. While everyone was in agreement on the politics (they were also in agreement that this pie is amazing!) I was thinking that this is why I like hosting people and cooking. It creates a venue for discussion. The domestic space is historically where things like politics have been sorted out by most people—around the kitchen table, or in front of the TV. Perhaps it is only within this domestic space that any sort of influence on opinions or exchange of ideas can best take place. I know there are many of us that are concerned for the future of our country—bake a pie, have people over and talk about politics, watch a debate, make plans to change the world.

Antique Apple Pie (From October’s Martha Stewart Living)

Apples have arrived! Chicago’s Green City Market is full of a variety of apples, including some amazing heirlooms. They are perfect for this pie.


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons ice water


  • 3 1/2 pounds (about 8 medium) heirloom apples, such as Arkansas Black, Caville Blanc, Carpentin, Jonathan, Knobbed Russet or Northern Spy.*
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sanding sugar


Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until the mixture just begins to hold together.

Shape dough into two disks, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to two days.


On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edges, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll remaining disk of dough into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until cold and firm, about 15 minutes.

Peel and core apples, then cut them into 1/2 to 1-inch chunks and place them in a medium bowl. Add flour, sugar, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla seeds, and toss.

Place apple mixture in prepared pie dish, and dot with butter. Center dough round over apples, and tuck overhang under edge of bottom dough. Using your fingers, gently pinch dough along edge to seal. Using a paring knife, cut eight 2 1/2-inch vents in dough to let steam escape. Freeze pie until firm, about two hours.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Mix yolk and heavy cream in a small bowl, and brush over dough. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place dish on rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 375° F, and bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 50-60 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire wrack to cool completely.

*Use whatever apples you can find that taste good. I ended up with Northern Spy, Jonathan and Russet.

10 comments to “Apple Pies for Strange Times”

  1. Tim, this whole thing is really nice. I like what you have to say about diner parties, art, and this project in your about section. I’ll be sure to let Natalie know about this. I’m sure we be trying out a few of your goodies very soon, maybe for the our party.

    Tell Bryan I said hey,

  2. Thanks, Curt. And thanks for checking it out. We’ll see what happens…

  3. Rima Rantisi says:

    November 1st, 2008 at 3:05 am

    This turned out extra tasty. I used Lebanese apples. But, maybe my pie pan was too big (perhaps they make them bigger on this side of the world… though I do think it is a French pie pan), but I ran out of dough. I mean, it didn’t spread far enough to make the nice little finger pinches on the edges to hold the whole damn thing together. So next time I’ll have to make more dough.

    love you.

  4. Hey sweetie: I wonder if maybe you needed to roll the dough out thinner? Hmmm. It would be weird if your pie plates were bigger. We’ll talk….

  5. schneiderluvsdoof says:

    November 22nd, 2009 at 9:28 am

    What about the one that does not require a food processor?

  6. Hi,

    I’m a first-time commenter but long time reader of your blog. As a fellow Chicagoan, I am always so excited to see all of the creative ways you use all of the products our wonderful city has to offer.

    Anyway, I saw this pie on and had one question–why do you freeze it? Does it make a difference in the final outcome of the pie? I’ve never heard of doing that before. On a whim, I registered for Sunday’s Bucktown Apple Pie Contest last night and have been reading recipes like crazy ever since…

    Thank you,

  7. Hi Paige,
    I am guessing you freeze it to keep the crust in shape. Pretty often with high-butter content you want the dough chilled. Good luck with the contest! I was originally supposed to judge, I am sorry I am missing it!
    Happy baking, Tim

  8. 2 stick of butter and the cups of flour…may i have it in gr.? :) …and without foodprocessor is possibile as well? Thank you
    Stefania Torino It

  9. Just made this and it came out beautifully. The first apple pie that was not a complete failure for me. Thanks!

  10. great to hear, laurie!

What do you think?