Food The 11 Best Apples for Apple Pies (& Tarts & Galettes)

20:55  20 may  2021
20:55  20 may  2021 Source:   food52.com

All About Pie Birds, the Whimsical Victorian-Era Baking Tool

  All About Pie Birds, the Whimsical Victorian-Era Baking Tool While you’ve likely heard the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” with its “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie,” it would probably surprise you to find a bird’s head peeking out of your fresh-from-the-oven dessert, whether or not it “began to sing” upon being sliced. Don’t worry, though—there aren’t live birds in most pies, let alone two dozen. While the rhyme likely alludes to the trials and tribulations of Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, it may have served as inspiration for pie birds: hollow ceramic figurines designed to vent steam from the pastries, according to Linda Fields, author of Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Vol.

So you want to make apple pie. But which apples are the pie-friendliest? Here, Rowan Jacobsen—a James Beard Award-winner and the author of Apples of Uncommon Character—breaks down the best varieties. Better pies, right this way.

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Lucky us. We are in the Second Golden Age of the Apple, with more great new varieties appearing in markets than we’ve seen in decades. But lost amid the snap-crackle-pop of the produce aisle is a sad little secret: Not all apples are cut out for baking.

For that, we have to hearken back to the First Golden Age of the Apple, the 1700s and 1800s, when more than 7,000 varieties graced American farms, many of them selected specifically for their pie prowess. Although these varieties are hard to find in supermarkets, they are increasingly common at farmers markets, farmstands, and pick-your-own orchards. Combine them with some tricks our ancestors knew well (use several varieties for maximum interest; mix sweet and tart, firm and goopy; and work some leaf lard into the crust), and prepare for pie perfection.

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Here are 11 of the best apples for apple pie.

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Escpopus Spitzenberg / Bramley's Seedling

1. Esopus Spitzenberg“Who would put into a pie any apple but Spitzenberg, that had that?” wrote the famed minister Henry Ward Beecher in 1862. A century and a half later, the question stands. Widely considered the most flavorful apple America has ever produced, the pride of New York’s Hudson Valley pushes both sweetness and tartness to an extreme, and infuses your pie with notes of lychee and roses.

2. Bramley’s SeedlingToo often Americans make their pies with nothing but overly hard apples, which slide away from each other as soon as your fork strikes. The Brits have long understood that you need some glue to hold the thing together, and for more than 200 years their go-to glue has been Bramley’s Seedling. The huge, green, very tart apples look like unripe grapefruits in the tree, but when cooked they melt into a thick pulp that works wonders when combined with a firmer apple. (Honorable Mention: McIntosh or Cortland.)

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Gravenstein / Belle de Boskoop

3. GravensteinLove it or leave it. Some people think this treasure of Sonoma County (where you can still find the Gravenstein Apple Fair every August) is too soft for pie, but others believe its unmistakable berry-apple fragrance is the very harbinger of fall. Pick them early for pie.

More: Here are the tools you'll need to bake the perfect apple pie.

4. Belle de BoskoopThis tart and snappy Dutch belle is plump and rustic, with a hint of acidity that mellows in the oven. It will win you over in pies, crisps, and strudel, where the firmness is divine and the zippy edge keeps things lively. (Honorable Mention: Any starchy russet, such as Golden Russet, Roxbury Russet, Ashmead’s Kernel, or Zabergau Reinette.)

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Northern Spy / Pink Lady

5. Northern SpyYour grandmother may well have insisted on Northern Spy for her pies. And she was right. This early-1800s star is one of the few apples that can stand alone in pies. Bright and lively, firm yet tender-skinned, it’s experiencing a well-deserved resurgence as a new generation of bakers discovers that no other apple can match its bag of tricks.

Pop-Tarts Has A New Mystery Flavor, So Concentrate On The Taste Of The Filling

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6. Pink LadyNot all modern apples fall flat in pies. Pink Lady is super-crisp when eaten fresh and nearly as crisp in pies, where its rosy hue and sweet-tart balance work wonders. No peeling, please.

7. Granny SmithGreen-skinned Granny Smith apples are juicy and firm, with a puckery-tart taste. Because they're available year-round, they're a reliable back-pocket baking apple for the contemporary home cook. (Worth noting: They make a fantastic apple cake, too.)

Gallery: 34 Recipes That Use Almond Extract (Taste of Home)

a bunch of food on a plate: I love lemon filled doughnuts when I can find them. This recipe brings the concept to a new level by placing the filling into a baked beignet and enhancing it with a bit of almond flavoring and toasted almonds. The result? Sunshine in a bite. —Arlene Erlbach, Morton Grove, Illinois  Get Recipe

8. Golden DeliciousGolden Delicious apples have a sunny, nearly-neon color and a balanced flavor, wonderful for baking. Note: They do tend to soften more than sturdier varieties, like a Pink Lady or Granny Smith, but this makes them great for mixing and matching with other apples.

9. HoneycrispThis 20th-century apple variety is super sweet and super crisp (hence the name). Food52's Baking Consultant at Large Erin McDowell loves using Honeycrisp apples in her Cider Caramel Apple Pie because they "hold up very well in baking, resulting in a filling that's tender but still has a little bite."

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  Virginia Woman Turns Family’s Sixth-Generation Sweet Potato Pie Recipe into Booming Business They don't get more authentic than Joyebells Sweet Potato Pies. Moore spent 30 years baking sweet potato pies to give as gifts during the holidays. "I was always told 'girl, you need to sell these pies,' and I would always counter with 'one day!'" she told Southern Living. That one day came for Moore in the summer of 2019 when she was laid off from her job. "I had a decision to make. Start all over and let someone else decide my worth or know [my own]," she recalled. "Joyebells Sweet Potato Pies were officially born and launched October 1, 2019." Within a month, business was booming.

10. JonagoldAnother 20th-century apple variety. This one is a mix of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples, with a sweet-tart flavor and buttery-yellow flesh. It stands up well when baked—and not just in pie, either. Food52 co-founder Merrill Stubbs loves using Jonagolds for homemade Apple Chips.

11. BraeburnBraeburn apples look like a sunset, with orange-yellow tie-dye skin. Their intense citrusy-spicy flavor makes them perfect for pairing with other apple varieties or using in big-personality recipes—like Brown Butter & Chedder Apple Pie, or this stunner from Alice Medrich where apples are steeped in a cardamom-lime syrup.

Now, let's get baking. Here are three stellar pie recipes to get started:

Cider Caramel Apple Pie

While most apple pies use white or brown sugar, this one goes one step further: Start with a quart of apple cider and cook it down into a syrupy caramel sauce.

Sausage & Apple Pie

Not all apple pies have to be sweet. This savory recipe, with pork sausage and a cheddar cheese crust, is perfect for dinner.

Epic Single Crust Apple Pie

Half the crust, twice the fun. If lattice-work worries you, then look no further. This open-faced pie lets the apples get roasty, toasty, and concentrated in flavor.

Additional ideas from the editors:

Brown Butter & Cheddar Apple Pie

While you’d expect ingredients like brown butter and cheddar to pull focus from the apples, in this pie they only work to enhance. Both bring a nuttiness that complements the apples' sweetness, and without the distraction of the typical cinnamon-nutmeg-ginger spicing, the apples are able to shine.

These New Pop-Tarts Taste Exactly Like Banana Bread

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Apple Pie Tart

Can’t decide between a pie and a tart? Call this dessert Hannah Montana, because it brings the best of both worlds. All jokes aside, this tart features a buttery cinnamon-tinged crust full of a gooey, brandy-spiked apple pie filling and is absolutely delicious.

Mixed Apple Pie With Hazelnut Crumb Crust & Maple Cream

In this recipe you’re encouraged to mix and match with apple varieties, so run wild with your newfound fruit knowledge. Toasted hazelnuts, oats, and cinnamon make the crust more akin to a spiced oatmeal cookie than a butter-crust (sign us up!). Paired with tender baked apples and maple-kissed whipped cream, this pie is all we need to round out an evening.

Open-Faced Deep Dish Apple Pie

This deep-dish apple pie is as American as, well, you know the saying. We love this recipe because it’s got all our favorite apple pie elements in one: a walnut and warm spice-based crumble topping and a buttery, flaky crust. It’s also dialed back in terms of sweetness, which lets the apple flavors and nutty undertones really come through.

Easy Apple Galette

If baking is not your area of expertise but you still find yourself craving apple pie, galettes should be your go-to. They’re freeform, single-crust, and the goal is "rustic," which we all know really just means it doesn’t have to look pretty. This recipe is as simple as it gets, and as easy as pie—nay, galette!

For more apple facts, apple recipes, and great writing, pick up a copy of Rowan's book, Apples of Uncommon Character. This article was originally published in 2014; we updated it in May 2021 with even more varieties for even more pies. All photos within article by Clare Barboza.

What apples do you swear by for pie? Tell us all about them in the comments!

How to Peel an Apple in 3 Seconds .
Apple peeling isn't the most difficult kitchen task, but why not make it faster and easier if you can? When Thanksgiving is around the corner and you’re trying to peel apples for stuffing, pies, and even a beautiful roast turkey, it can become a monotonous, time-consuming task and frankly, who has the time? A few years ago, Food52 co-founder Merrill Stubbs and Creative Director of Genius Kristen Miglore shared their favorite way to peel an apple and I haven’t gotten over it. Now you can peel pounds and pounds of apples (and put them to good use in apple pie, cobblers, crisps, and sauces) in no time.

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