For now I am sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and feeling shell-shocked about the fact that I don't need to go out into this weather to do animal chores. I know it sounds as if I'm harping on this matter, but I'll be 49 years old in a month, and nearly all of my adult life has been structured around morning and evening barn chores. I'm like an employee who has suddenly retired from a life-long job. The idea of having a choice about whether or not I go out into the pouring rain . . . I can't explain how odd this is.
Anyway, barring a few soundcheck issues, last night's gig went well, and there was no rain, and we were not freezing, and my violin managed to sort of stay in tune despite the humidity. Plus my pie won a blue ribbon!
Summer Apple Pie Flavored with Maple Syrup, Ginger, and Lime
6–8 early yellow apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup maple sugar
¼ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose white flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
a few gratings of fresh lime zest
2 teaspoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the butter. Let sit for 15 minutes while you make the crust. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose white flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1½ sticks), sliced
5–6 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 5 tablespoons of water and mix together quickly with your hands. Add the extra tablespoon of water if the mixture seems too dry.
On a floured countertop, quickly knead the dough until it is a cohesive ball (no more than a minute or two). Cut the ball in half. Roll it out with a floured pin, turning the dough and re-flouring the counter as necessary. Your goal is a thin round of dough 12–14 inches in diameter (depending on the size of your pie plate).
With a floured spatula, transfer the round to a pie plate. The pie shell should loosely drape over the edges of the plate. Spoon the prepared pie filling into the pie shell, and sprinkle the filling with the reserved butter. Brush the edges of the pie shell with cold water.
Roll out the top pie shell, and drape it over the pie filling. Trim the edges so that they extend just over the edge of the pie plate. Gently press them together with the tines of a fork or flute them decoratively. With the point of a paring knife, cut a few steam vent holes in the center and along the edges of the top shell.
Egg Wash for Glaze
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water
1 teaspoon large-crystal brown sugar (such as turbinado)
Break the egg into a small bowl. Add the cold water and beat the mixture thoroughly with a fork. Brush the egg wash onto the top crust of the pie. Sprinkle the crust with sugar.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350˚F and bake for another 30–40 minutes or until the crust is golden and you see syrup bubbling up beneath the steam vents. If the pie seems to be browning too quickly, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top.
Serve at room temperature, preferably with heavy cream whipped with maple syrup.