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.
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.
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.
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!