orchard to oven

It’s apple season, folks! There is no season quite like fall, I think. It’s rivaled only by spring, obviously, but the foods of fall are better than the foods of spring, so even though fall is a harbinger of cold dark days, I still like it better than spring, which leads only to lots of sweating. So with the onset of fall, friends and I took a drive to New York state for some apple picking.

269.we went apple picking

I’d never been apple picking before, actually, and my imagined scene was far more romantic than the reality. I think I expected something out of Anne of Green Gables, you know? We’d take a short walk into the orchard, discovering ripe apples as we went, and frolic in the woods while stealing bites of crisp, juicy apples. Maybe we’d make up stories, or name the orchard, or something.


In truth, it was more like a tourist trap for manual labor—everyone’s favorite! You drive through a carnival-like area at Penning’s and then choose your parking zone based on apple type. Each zone was in easy reach of Red Delicious, with some other apple types mixed in. The map didn’t specify Honeycrisp, but we asked and were directed to two rows of these perfect apples. The trees were short and laden with fruit, which was good, but almost too easy. The ground was littered with a carpet of discarded apples—ones with visible holes or bruises. You’re committed to filling one 1/2 bushel bag ($25) per car, so we focused on the picked-over Honeycrisp trees until we’d amassed 1/4 bushel. Fujis were on a nearby row, so we filled the rest of the bag with those. The rest of the available apples per the map we got were golden delicious and red delicious, so we left. (Their website says Galas, but we didn’t see them!)


We left Penning’s and went to Och’s, just up the road, to see if the experience would be better up there. It wasn’t! The dusty parking lot and road left a film over everything, and the Cortland trees—much nicer to look at, as they were clearly older and much taller—had had all the low-hanging fruit cleared off. This meant you either rented/bought an apple picker, or you jumped, or, as was the case for us, Jason climbed a tree! The minimum there was 1/4 bushel ($13) so we filled it with Cortlands and headed back to the city.

apples, various

In all we came away with about 30 apples each of the 3 types, and though I cannot really tell the difference between them by sight, I’m happy with the haul. I can mostly identify the Honeycrisps (a brighter red, more donut-shaped), but does it really matter? A mix of tart and sweet in any baking venture will be tasty. Like pie! Pie is always made better when you have multiple types of apple.

pie in progress

apple pie!

Apple Pie

Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee (make the full recipe, enough for a double-crust pie)
10 small or 6 medium apples, various types (I had mostly Cortland and Fuji)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking spice (a mix of cinnamon, mace, sweet anise, and cardamom)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon flour (optional; if your apples seem particularly wet)
1 tablespoon milk
1-2 tablespoons sugar in the raw or tubinado sugar
vanilla ice cream!

Make the dough and let it chill for the prescribed time while you prep the apples.

Peel, core, and slice the apples into roughly the same size pieces. I did slices this time, but I often do chunks. Mix the apples with thebrown sugar, baking spice, lemon juice, and flour if using and let sit while you roll out the dough.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Roll the dough out and tuck the bottom crust into a deep-dish pie dish. Carefully pour the apples and some of the juice into the pan, smoothing out the apples so that they nest fairly tightly together. Roll the top crust out and use cookie cutters to cut it into many shapes—here I did three size of leaf and one apple for the middle. Press the edges to the bottom crust. With a finger or pastry brush, gently brush the milk over the top crust, then sprinkle with the large-grain sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove to a rack and let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy with ice cream!


11 Responses to orchard to oven

  1. Henya says:

    I am sure the pie from those apples will be especially good.
    When DS#1 was 3 years old we went to pick peas. I was picking into my huge bushel basket and he was picking and eating and loving it. All of a sudden he started to cry. I was scared – did he heart himself? It turned out that he was frustrated! “There are so many more peas here, but I can not eat any more!” he sobbed. So we got him his own basket and he did very well.

  2. Lee says:

    I guess I’m going to have to make you guys stay through til apple season when you come next year. ;-) I could take you to several places that are not touristy in the least and have way more interesting apples than red delicious! Your pie is gorgeous!

  3. miko says:

    that is one pretty pie. love the apple and leaf shape cutouts for the top crusts. I don’t own any cookie cutters and this seems like a good use for them.

    apple picking was not quite what I imagined but I’m still pretty happy with the haul.

  4. April says:

    The last time I went fruit picking was for blueberries. Those were the best blue berries I’ve ever had.

    That pie looks really tasty. Definitely going to have to try that recipe.

  5. Meg says:

    I’m sorry your apple picking experience wasn’t very good. I love to go apple picking, but I admit that I’ve never been to a “carnival” type place. And, unfortunately, most places discourage tree climbing, which is why the trees are so short. It doesn’t have to do with the age of the tree so much. I’m pretty sure they are usually grafted.

    Next time search out a smaller apple place, and in the mean time, eat lots of pie!

  6. sue says:

    wow! next time drive a little further upstate – the apple picking is much cheaper and much more peaceful. Our local orchard charges about $20/bushel u-pick, and it’s lovely. Plus, we’re on a wine trail!

  7. Bertha says:

    I do always try to get my apples at the orchard (especially for pie!), but I almost always just buy them in the farm store rather than pick them myself anymore. It’s so crowded on the weekends and expensive! We may pick them ourselves this year or next year with June, but I prefer pre-picked apples myself :)

  8. Mom says:

    We actually took you apple picking waaaaay back when you were very little. It really isn’t all that memorable :) But your pie surely is – beautiful and I’m sure delish. Tapani brought me about a kilo of homemade applesauce made from apples he picked from Edvard Munch’s garden! I can’t wait to use my Fall Harvest bundt pan to make an applesauce cake.

  9. Julie says:

    Your pie looks SO delicious!!! I recently went apple picking too, but have been making loads of apple sauce and apple crisp. The pie are coming, though!

  10. Vivienne says:

    I don’t want to knock NY orchards, but that’s not how our orchards work! There’s no minimum to pick, and you can pick any and all types of apples (and pumpkins too). I love picking my own because it’s much much cheaper than buying from the grocery store. Also, the area is beautiful with lots of fall foliage in beautiful colors.

    I love all the shapes on your pie crust! Have you ever considered making a cheddar cheese crust? I know it’s sounds a little odd, but I tried it one year and I haven’t gone back to a regular crust since then! The salty crust and the sweet tart apples is really fantastic.

    P.S. I love those curly apple peels!

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