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Russet Beauty Apple Pie

As with many of the apples in our orchard, you likely have never heard of this one.   Unless you are in our CSA or happen to this the one or two markets each year that we bring it to, you are not likely to find it in a grocery store or for purchase.  Though you can make a pie with just about any apple, certain varieties stand out. This very old variety has a slightly rough or “russeted” skin.  It’s quite sweet & tart with citrus-like overtones.  The texture as an eating apple isn’t  ideal- it’s a bit soft- but in pie or baked goods… Wow!! Here’s what Orin Martin (pomme fruit obsessed manager of the UCSC Garden) has to say:  “Russet Beauty (thought to be a chance seedling of a cross between Cox’s Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious).  An early September russet that is a typically large fruited, round-oblate in shape. A uniform bronzy-golden fawn with many small bumps. The flesh is crumbly coarse and the taste is decidedly sweeter than Golden Delicious with a nice Cox’s nutty acidic aftertaste. Doesn’t hold long on the tree before going soft and mushy (10–14 days).”

Mike has taken an interest in pie making over the last couple weeks and this weekend he baked three pies all identical accept for the variety of apple.  He tried Golden Delicious, Sweet Sixteen, and Russet Beauty.  The Russet Beauty won the contest hands down.  Here’s our favorite recipe from “Fanny Farmer”, my Grandma’s favorite cookbook.

Apple Pie Recipe

Crust- sift together:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

Add:

1/3 cup lard and 1/3 cup butter (we have our own lard, but if you don’t have lard you can do all butter or 1/2 margarine and 1/2 butter)

mix/cut fat into the flour & salt until mixture is in even bits about the size of peas. Put in 1/3 cup of ice water.  Stir it in gently with a fork just enough that you can pat the dough lightly into a ball.  Handle the dough as little as possible- do not knead.  Wrap in wax paper or foil and chill for an hour or so.  This will be enough for the top and bottom of a 9″ pie.

Filling

Pare, core, and slice 6-8 tart cooking apples.  Line a 9″ pie pan with the bottom crust.  Pour in apples.  Mix and sprinkle over the apples- 1/2 cup of brown or white sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.  Dot with a tablespoon of butter.  Cover with upper crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the whole house smells like apple pie and the filling is bubbling through the holes you did not forget to make in the top crust (so the pie doesn’t explode).

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