Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Fall Classic, Updated: Cardamom Apple Pie
Fall has always meant one thing to me: Apples.
Apple picking, apple cider, apple pie. Of course, without the picking, the cider and the pie usually don't happen, so it was with trepidation that I entered into my first September here on the West Coast. With the workload that comes with being a 1L, I wondered, would I have the time to get out to an orchard? For that matter, are there apple orchards in Southern California?
Well, there's good news, and there's bad. The good news is that, yes, there are apple orchards in Los Angeles. Well, if by Los Angeles you mean two hours north, in Palmdale. Unfortunately, the bad news is that I barely can spare the time to make a pie, much less gather the fruit for it. The good news is that all sorts of good apple varieties have started to spring up in local markets; I was able to get my hands on some lovely Gala and Granny Smith specimens without wandering too far from my front door.
As I was working in the kitchen, getting ready to cook, a bag of green cardamom caught my eye. For those of you that aren't familiar with it, cardamom is a sweet, delicate spice that brings extra dimension to almost any fruit you pair it with, and a particularly special affinity for oranges and apples, something I learned when I whipped up an Orange-Cardamom Yogurt Cake last year. I had an inkling it would add a lovely and subtle twist to my pie, and oh my, it certainly did.
Now, was my pie as delicious (or as satisfying) as it would have been had I guided it from orchard to table? Nah. But it'll do. That being said, for those of you that can get yourselves out of the house this fall to pick your own, I highly, highly recommend it. it may just become a new tradition for you.
Cardamom Apple Pie
Makes 1 Pie
8 Medium Size Gala and Granny Smith Apples
2 Tablespoons "Minute" Tapioca
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh-grated Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fresh-grated cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Butter
3/4 Cup Water
1 Two-Piece Store-Bought Pie Crust
[Editor's Note: It's pretty easy to get your hands on cardamom these days, but if you're having trouble, look for grocery stores that specialize in Indian cookery, and -- this is important -- make sure you purchase green (not black or white) cardamom if you're going to use it for baking. If you're really lazy, you can (pay an arm and a leg) and order some at Penzey's.
Start by preheating your oven to 400 F. Peel and slice your apples. You want reasonably fat one to one-and-a-half inch pieces.
Mix together your tapioca, sugar, spices and vanilla. Add your apples, and stir well to mix. Let sit for 15 minutes, stirring once during the waiting period.
Put one piece of your pie crust down into the pie pan. Pour your Apple/Tapioca mixture into the pan, then pour the 3/4 cup of water over that. Dot the top of the apples with the two Tablespoons of butter, cut into small pieces. Cover the top with a lattice of pie crust.
Cover the pie with aluminum foil and place it into the oven for 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes have elapsed, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes, or until top of lattice turns golden brown. Remove pie from oven, cool for a little bit, and then serve! The final product:
That's it! This is a fantastically easy variation on a true American classic. The cardamom enhances the natural flavor of the apples in a delightfully-light handed manner -- between the delicate spicing and the low sugar content, this is a dessert that allows the main ingredient to shine. I hope you'll give it a spin. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Music: Fiona Apple -- "Paper Bag"