Make Apple Butter Pie for Fall Baking Projects

As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some good-as-gold recipes—like this beautiful, golden apple butter pie from longtime community member thirschfeld. We couldn’t help but agree with community members who declared this the perfect fall treat, and got back in touch with Tom to tell us a bit more about it.

Photo by Jenny Haung

Pies have always seemed a little too labor intensive to me. I lean toward cobblers, clafloutis, and other desserts that didn’t require nearly as much effort. But now that I have an apple orchard and many different kinds of berries, I felt it was time to explore the world of pies.

I started by pulling out all my baking textbooks to learn about pie crusts. Double-crust pies are all about the ratio. After all, if you have a heaping amount of fruit with a thin crust you may have well have saved the effort and made a cobbler. To get the perfect crust-to-filling ratio, bake the pie in an 8-inch tin. Not only because they have the perfect-sized rims for crimping the crust, but also because they’re shallow enough so the fruit doesn’t overwhelm the crust (and vice versa).

Another consideration is choosing to use flakey, mealy, or short dough. I happen to like mealy—it’s a little more tender and easier to cut. In this crust, I use non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening to get the right texture and rise to the crust. Yes, the crust needs to rise just a little like a biscuit. And as long as you roll it out right away, there’s no reason to refrigerate the dough.

For the filling, I decided to forgo traditional apples. I grew up going to apple butter parties in the fall where we boiled the fruit down over an open fire in a copper-lined cast iron pot. The cinnamon was heavy (sometimes too much so), but the smoke smelled divine. If you make your own, I love a fennel version from William Woys Weaver’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking, and add add a little bit of flour to the apple butter if it’s runny.

As far as serving, whipped cream is always good, especially if it’s brown sugar whipped cream. And, seriously, eat it for breakfast using Edna Lewis’ recipe for coffee.

What’s your favorite fall dessert? Are you an apple pie fan?

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