Saturday, February 27, 2010

Honey-Thyme Apple Pie

Goodness me, what a lovely Saturday in Memphis.  It feels like spring is almost here, and I couldn't wait any longer to plant my lettuce and cucumbers.  Tomatoes, though, I've got to hold off on... they'll just get all leggy inside before I can get them in the ground!

Anyway, so I've been sitting on my porch studying for the ethics part of the bar exam, which I'm taking next Saturday.  In case you were curious:
  • Don't sleep with your clients.
  • Informal arrangements on the golf course with your dentist to set up reciprocal referrals are NOT ok unless you tell your clients.
  • Securities lawyers are probably golden in wrongful termination suits arising out of Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • You can pretty much always enter into a business arrangement with your client.  Seriously.
  • "CIRY?" ("Can I Represent You?") is a bad BarBri joke.
I bet you're sorry you didn't scroll down immediately.

With fewer than two months until the markets reopen, you may be wondering how to use up the odds and ends of produce you squirreled away.  Honey-Thyme Apple Pie is a yummy tide-over until strawberry season and is easy to make.  Then you'll be set for breakfast dessert for the week.

Honey-Thyme Apple Pie
Adapted from Edible Memphis Magazine

Pie Crust (From The Art of Simple Food by Alice Walker)

You can use store-bought pie crust, but I find it cheaper just to make some up the night before with ingredients I already have.  There's nothing super-hard about it; you just have to get in there and try it.  But, your call.  This is all you need:

1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup ice-cold water
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

Apple Filling Part
4 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Arkansas Blacks from Jones Orchard)
1/2 cup honey (not technically mid-south local; I used orange blossom honey my mom sent me from Florida)
6 fresh thyme sprigs (I used a couple of pinches of dried thyme)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 teaspoons of water to form a slurry
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

First, Make Your Pie Crust (also instructions here)

The night or several hours before:

Cut the very cold butter into dice and work it into the flour with your hands.  Aim for some bigger pieces and some pea-sized pieces. 

Run about 3/4 of the cold water into the bowl and work the dough with a spoon until it forms clumps (use more of the water if necessary).  Form it into a ball and wrap it in plastic.  Let it chill out in the fridge until you're ready for it.

When you're ready, roll it out on a floured counter.  It's easiest to do this if you thwack it good and hard with a rolling pin a few times.  You will probably enjoy this as well.

Once you've got it rolled out, place it in the pie tin and prick it all over with a fork.  Place a piece of tin foil over the top and weight it down with some beans.  This keeps it from shrinking when you make the actual pie.  Bake it in the pie tin in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.   Then take the pie weights and tin foil off and bake the shell for about 5-7 more minutes, until it's golden brown and getting all nice and crusty.

Now, Make the Filling Part

In a large saute pan over medium heat, bring the honey to a boil and cook until caramelized, about two minutes.  Add the thyme (removed from sprigs if using fresh). 

Add the apples and the butter.  Cook until the apples are golden brown, but still crisp, stirring occasionally, about six minutes.  Remove apple mixture to a bowl, and add cornstarch slurry, sugar, ginger, and salt.  Or you could just do this right in the pan and skip having to clean another bowl, because who has time for that?!

Spoon the apple filling into your yummy pie crust.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Cool for one hours before serving.

There's a lot going on here, what with the apples, ginger, thyme, and honey and all (and my orange-flavored honey added another strange element), but somehow it all works without being jarringly weird or cloyingly sweet.

The honey-butter mixture makes some seriously thick syrupy goodness, and the chewy caramelized parts that form against the pie tin while cooking taste kinda like pecan pie (so said my unbiased taste tester).  This will be on the make-again list!  I can't wait to try it with some (non-orange blossom) local honey.*

*not to say that orange-blossom honey isn't delish.  It absolutely is.  Thanks, mom!

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