Apple Pie comes in so many variations and quality levels. From a syrupy fast food offering to a fresh hand made specialty, it can range from bland to outstanding. The best apple pie uses fresh apples put in a hand rolled crust and served slightly warm from the oven.
Selecting a good tart cooking apple is key. What I use depends on what’s available locally. My backyard Winesaps are what I use in late August and September. Granny Smiths from a local orchard are what I use when my own are finished. My local orchard is out of Granny Smith apples for the year, so I recently purchased some Gold Rush apples there. This is a fairly new variety and I was not familiar with it. Websites described it as a good winter cooking apple. It is, but doesn’t have quite the tartness of Granny Smith.
One way to increase tartness is to add lemon juice but I’ve opted for a different method. Instead of peeling and slicing all of the apples, I grate one with the peel on. I use about six apples in a pie. With five of them peeled and sliced the filling is mostly the familiar texture of a traditional American apple pie. Coarsely grating one with the peel on adds a more intense fruit flavor that’s all local apple. Grating all the apples makes a different texture and flavor than what local people expect in an apple pie.
Many great varieties of apple pie are available: Maple nut, rum raisin, Dutch with cream filling and crumb topping. The simple apple pie with a little cinnamon in a butter crust is a classic.