Living in community with six other people can be a challenge at times. Sharing your space, time and experiences constantly with other people can be draining, physically and emotionally. But it’s nice to have other people around and if you really want some time alone, it’s never too hard to find a quiet corner of the house to retreat to, whether it’s the solarium or your room.
One aspect of community-living that my housemates and I still struggle with is working with our monthly grocery budget. At the beginning of every month, we get a set amount of money for groceries, to include toiletries for the house like paper towels, laundry detergent, but principally, food. Seven people means seven different styles and attitudes towards eating. Some of us like quick and easy dinners like frozen meals. Most of us crave fresh ingredients like vegetables, red meat, and fruits. And some of us are just happy eating oatmeal and pancakes for breakfast and dinner. However we decide to spend the money for the month, it’s all we get and we have to work together to figure out how best to spend that money.
So, where am I going with all this? We start every month off with a huge grocery trip at a wholesale store where we buy the essential perishables in bulk to last us the whole month. This past trip yielded two dozen apples, twelve red apples and the rest green. It’s nearly two weeks later and a dozen Granny Smith apples have yet to be eaten, wasting away in a fruit basket on our dining room table. It’s a bit disappointing when something like this happens but what can you do but make lemonade out of lemons, or in this case, a delicious apple pie out of some sour apples.
The best thing about this pie is the thick syrupy sauce, sweet and fragrant from melted brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The apples are baked perfectly with just a little bite left in them to highlight their tangy flavor. Encase all of this in a buttery and flakey pie crust and you’ve got yourself the best dessert. Ever. Wait, don’t forget the vanilla ice cream! Now, it’s the best dessert ever. Really.
Pie crust dough, enough for one 9-inch pie
6 to 8 granny smith apples, or other crispy apples
1 stick unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F and prepare a 9-inch pie pan. In a large bowl, peel and core apples, cut into about 1/2 inch thick slices. Set aside.
2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir until mixture thickens smoothly. Add sugars, water, and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, letting the syrup thicken and reduce slightly, about five minutes.
3. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg and salt over apples and combine. Pour syrup over apples and stir until well coated. Transfer apples to prepared pie pan, brushing crust with eggs and sprinkling with sugar before baking.
4. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely, about 3 to 4 hours, before serving.
I always like to do a lattice top for this pie; the presentation is rustic and beautiful, displaying the perfectly golden brown apples bubbling in syrup underneath. I always opt for a store-bought pie crust, just because I don’t have the patience or time to make it at home; the results are still delicious, so fear not if you’re in a pinch.
The egg wash isn’t necessary but it does give the crust that nice baked-through look. If you don’t have an egg, brushing the top with some milk will also produce similar results. And of course, enjoy this pie à la mode with some vanilla ice cream!