Strawberry Apple Pie

2 Sep
strawberry apple pie

fresh out of the oven

Unfortunately, as I spent the past three & a half months away from home I haven’t had the opportunity to bake in a very long time. I also missed the early July birthday of someone very close to me, and I promised him that when I returned home we would set aside a day for a belated celebration. His one request was that this year, instead of the usual mint-chocolate concoction, I make him a more rustic, summery dessert: strawberry rhubarb pie.

While this was all very well and good, I neglected to think about the seasonality of one of the primary ingredients of said baked good, and after a fruitless walk to Kroger and a (surprisingly) fruitless stop at Whole Foods, I realized that drastic measures would need to be taken in order to produce a pie in a timely fashion, namely the tricky business of ingredient substitution. While there is apparently a statewide paucity of rhubarb in Michigan at the moment, these beauties are popping up all over the place:

tart & crunchy

paula red apples

Accordingly, I decided to throw caution to the wind and experiment with a heretofore unheard of combination of late summer and early fall fruits: strawberries and apples.

I adapted Deb’s “improved” strawberry rhubarb pie recipe from over at Smitten Kitchen, and I also used her recommended buttery pie crust recipe. I really love this crust because it’s easy to make (I successfully used it to bake two rounds of turkey pot pie after Canadian Thanksgiving last October) and requires only four ingredients that most cooks have readily available in their kitchens – in my mind the hallmark of a good recipe!

note the enormous flecks of butter

The best thing about these is that you can prepare them beforehand, wrap them in plastic and store them in the fridge. I made mine the night before.

The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • 3 cups large strawberries (about a 1 lb package)
  • 4 cups (2 very large or 3 medium) tart apples. I used Paula Red, but Granny Smith would probably work just as well.
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 tbsp butter, finely chopped
  • 2 pre-prepared pie crusts
  • One egg yolk beaten with one tsp water, for the glaze

Kitchen Equipment:

  • One 9″ pie pan
  • Pastry blender (for making the crusts)
  • One large bowl
  • One wooden spoon
  • Scissors to trim pie crust overhang

Unsurprisingly, you’ll first need to chop up all the fruit. Hull and quarter the strawberries, and then peel the apples and chop them into large, satisfying chunks. You’ll want to mix the fruit together with the two sugars, lemon juice and tapioca, like so:

you definitely sample some of the filling after you mix in the sugar, just to make sure it's, you know, okay

pie filling

Once your filling is all set, preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Unwrap one of your pie crusts and roll it out into a 12 inch circle, and then drape it over your 9″ pie pan.

draped crust

And now for the fun part. Transfer your pie filling to the pie pan, making sure to scrape all of the juices out of the bowl to make for a more flavourful pie. Once you’ve evenly spread the filling over the bottom crust, dot it with the two tablespoons of butter that have already been cut into small pieces.

Then, roll out your second pie crust (though you’ll only need an 11-inch circle this time), and cut a few decorative slits on the top of it. After you have centred the top crust over the filling and the pie pan, cut all the overhanging crust so that it extends only a 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pie pan. This is very important, because I neglected to cut enough off, and sure enough I had a drooping monstrosity on my hands about five minutes after I put the pie in the oven. Once you have achieved your 1/2 inch overhang (I’m serious here people, don’t overshoot!), fold the bottom crust over the top crust and create an aesthetically pleasing pattern by tamping it down symmetrically with your thumb.

i'm deadly serious. be very careful about the amount of crust.

WAY too much crust along the edges. Tread carefully, fellow bakers.

Your pie is now ready to be baked. Put it in the oven at 400 for the first 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. The pie will be ready when the crust is golden brown and the juices are visibly bubbling. When you remove it on the oven you can cool it on a wire rack for several hours, to allow the juices to gel and the pie to achieve that turgid, diner-pie, gooey consistency.

the aforementioned crust issues are readily apparent here...

The buttery golden colour you're shooting for.

Despite the overwhelming amount of crust I produced, and the resulting asymmetrical and off-kilter appearance of the dessert, the pie itself was delicious. While the birthday recipient is generally a somewhat taciturn individual, the fact that he ate two enormous pieces for dessert and then another one for breakfast the following morning attests to the quality of the baked good. While you are no doubt all mourning the seasonal disappearance of rhubarb, I strongly encourage you to experiment with this summer/fall combination of fruit, and try out this pie!

summer fruit + fall fruit = stroke of genius

Go forth and make this post haste!

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