I love me some apples! I’ll eat them anytime, anywhere. And much to the horror of my kids, I eat the core too (lots of fiber!). I also enjoy a crisp sweet apple slathered with salty Roquefort or gorgonzola. But to please the rest of the world, I turn these apples into fantastic pie.
You might think this sounds weird, but apples and rosemary are an incredibly mouth watering duo. I used to make little versions of this when I was pastry chef, when adding herbs to desserts was uncharted territory. Today although it’s an old standby to restaurant chefs, it’s still relatively unexplored by home cooks.
Professional bakers have a trick. To guarantee our apples are cooked to perfection and not left half-raw in the center of a pie, we precook them on the stove until they are caramelized and tender. This prevents the filling from shrinking in the oven, which creates a gap of air between the apples and the top crust. Precooked apples produce a beautiful, full slice of pie with an intact top crust and a generous amount of apple filling.
1 recipe Pie Dough
8-12 apples* peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2-3 TB. fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 TB.(1/2 stick) butter, divided, and more as needed
2 egg yolk
2 TB. cream
1/4 cup sugar
- Line pie pan with a circle of pie dough, and roll out an additional circle for a top crust. Refrigerate both.
- In a large bowl toss together apples, sugar, salt, rosemary and nutmeg. Mix well to thoroughly coat apples. In a large sauté pan over high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add one layer of apples and cook, stirring often, until tender and caramelized. Transfer apples to a baking sheet to cool and repeat with remaining apples. (Do not crowd apples in pan or they will exude too much liquid, cook too slowly, and won’t caramelize.) Cool apples completely.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Pile cooled apples into pie pan lined with dough. Be sure to add all the cooking juices. Lay top circle of dough over apples, and let dough warm to room temperature for 3-5 minutes until it bends easily without cracking. With scissors trim bottom and top crust together, 1/2 inch from edge of pan. Squeeze top and bottom crusts together around the rim, and crimp with fingers or score with a fork. In a small bowl combine egg yolk and cream, and brush over the surface of the pie crust. Poke a few decorative holes in the top crust with the tip of a paring knife to let out steam. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350˚F for 45-60 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Pies can be assembled and frozen raw for up to 2 weeks. Bake directly from the freezer for 60-90 minutes.
*All apples are not created equal, but they’re close. Most are grown for the lunch box and will generally hold up to heat just fine. So pick the apple you like the best. Fuji is my favorite.