It’s a shocking statement, but I find the apple quite a boring fruit. I’m never really happy eating it by itself, it always tastes better when coupled with some wedges of sharp cheese. Baking with apples however, is an entirely different matter, since apples are my favorite fruit to bake with.
Foreign cookbooks always specify which apples are the best for baking, but since I’m not exactly spoilt for choice here in Manila where apple varieties are concerned, I stick to three: Fiji apples, which are my favorite; Washington apples (the ordinary red ones that abound in supermarkets; and the green ones usually under the brand name Granny Smith.
A few days ago, I bought some apples for a pie I wanted to give a friend as a congratulatory gift. My sister T, was in the house and said, “Since you’re making a pie, could you make me a cobbler too?”
A cobbler can be made out of any fruit and is a deep-dish pie of cooked fruit with a thick crust on top. I think of it as an apple pie for lazy people, which is in no way a bad thing. Making an apple pie entails just a few steps more than a cobbler. The cobbler crust can be made out of a regular pie crust, but I’ve also used a shortcrust (tender textured crust), and a butter cookie dough.
I’ve never understood why most apple recipes specify such a measly amount of cinnamon. I always start with a heaping tablespoon, and I use this spicy Indian cinnamon that my Bin got in Indonesia. One whiff and my sinuses get cleaned out. Hoo-ah!
First thing I did was to wash, peel, core, and slice the apples and then I let them sit in a combination of sugar, a cornstarch-water slurry (for thickening the juices), a teaspoon of vanilla, and of course, that whopping tablespoonful of cinnamon. Leaving the apples alone in this mixture allows some of the fruits’ natural juices to seep out and gives me time to prepare the crust.
For the cobbler, I made a simple butter cookie dough topping, doubling the recipe since I like a thick crust. After the apples had been piled into a deep bowl, I then dropped the dough onto the apples, trying to go for the “cobbled” look, hence the name, “cobbler,” like cobblestones. Ah, now you see!
Then I popped this it into a 375°F oven for about 30 minutes and voilÃ¡, this is what I got:
Of course it looks better when you scoop a portion out. Then you really see the cinnamon and the spicy juices that ooze out from the apples. This is nice eaten with a sprinkling of some sharp cheese and/or a dollop of softly whipped cream on the side or some vanilla ice cream. You choose.
As for the apple pie, I pre-baked (blind baked) the bottom crust first. I do this because I don’t like soggy crusts. Once out of the oven, I brushed on a thin layer of egg white on the crust. The proteins in the egg white help keep the crust crispy. Then I added some caramel sauce that I had made beforehand (I decided to make this a caramel apple pie) and layered that on the bottom. I added the apples and then the streusel topping, made from flour, butter, sugar, and toasted pecans. The streusel turned out quite pallid ”“ not photogenic at all. Here is the unbaked pie with half of it covered in streusel. You can see how the cinnamon glistens here. Love it.
I baked this for half an hour, but perhaps I should’ve tented the pie with foil halfway through. The pecans burned, which are the black spots you see in the photo.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Chotda for her apple happy photo.