September 20, 2018

Recipe: Apple honey pie for Rosh Hashanah

It’s no secret I have a soft spot for pie, especially apple. It’s a seamless pastry. But in all these years, I’ve never used honey to sweeten an apple pie. The approaching Rosh Hashanah holiday was the perfect inspiration.

Honey is sweeter than sugar. Apples by themselves are sweet. The challenge of this pie is to add enough honey to the apples to make it special for the holiday but to temper the sweetness.

My solution was twofold. I added whole wheat flour to my regular pie dough to add a bit of depth to the crust. Then I decided to roll out the dough with finely chopped walnuts. Because I don’t add the nuts to the dough, it’s easy to omit them.

And to make the pie suitable for a meal featuring meat, I made the crust without butter. Earth Balance Baking Sticks make a fantastic crust.

When making apple pies, always use a combination of apple varieties. If not purchasing from a farmers market, I use a mixture of tart, firm sweet and yielding apples such as Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Pink Lady or Fuji.

APPLE HONEY PIE

WHOLE-WHEAT WALNUT CRUST

– 9 ounces all-purpose flour
– 3 ounces whole wheat flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 8 ounces Earth Balance Baking Sticks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces<
– 5 ounces ice water
– 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
– 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the Earth Balance pieces to the flour mixture. Toss the pieces of baking stick around until they are coated with flour. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to mix together the baking sticks and flour until you have a mixture with uneven crumbles, some as big as an almond and some as small as peas. You may do this first step in a food processor, but be careful not to over process. If you use a food processor, turn the flour-baking sticks mixture out into a bowl before you add the water. Add the water and vinegar, and toss like a salad until the mass comes together. Don’t worry if it’s a little soggy. It’s all right as long as it sticks together. 

Dump the mixture onto the work surface. Use a bench scraper to gather the crumbs into the mass of dough. Use the heel of your hand to smear the dough away from you a third at a time. You are creating flat layers of flour and the baking sticks. After the dough is smeared out, gather it together with the bench scraper, using the scraper to layer the smears on top of one another, creating a mass of dough. Do it again. The dough should come together nicely, but you should still see pieces of the baking sticks.

Divide the dough in half and form into flat discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and as long as two days. You can also freeze the dough.

When you’re ready to roll out the dough, lightly dust the work surface with flour. When your dough is halfway rolled, add a quarter of the walnuts underneath and on top of the rolled disc. Roll the walnuts into the dough. Repeat for the top crust.

APPLE FILLING

– 7 to 9 apples, mixed varieties, peeled and cored to yield approximately
– 8 cups sliced apples
– 1/2 cup honey
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
– Pinch of salt
– 5 tablespoons flour

Place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Peel the apples. Cut apple flesh off the cores. Turn apple pieces cut-side down and cut into 3/8-inch thick slices. Put apple slices in large bowl. Add the honey, cinnamon, lemon juice and salt and toss like a salad until the honey melts into the apple juices. Add the flour and mix well.

Place the dressed apples in a prepared pie pan lined with dough. Drape the top crust over the apples. Trim the crust, fold and crimp the edges, and slice some venting slits. Before baking, put the pie in the freezer for 20 minutes. (Yes, really. You’ll get a flakier crust as a result.)

Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch the drippings and slide it into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to cook another 20 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender when pierced through the vent with a paring knife or until thickened juices bubble out of the vents.  

If the top or edge of the pie begins to brown deeply too soon, loosely drape foil over the areas at risk and return to the oven. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool a bit before serving so that the juices have a chance to thicken.


Evan Kleiman is the host of “Good Food” on KCRW-FM.