Apple Pie

Apple season means apple cider season, apple fritter season, and of course apple pie season.  For aspiring bakers, apple pie season can be a frustrating time indeed.  I’ve been known to put my hands on my hips and glare at a pie crust that just won’t stop sticking to the counter and ripping.  And I know I’m not alone.  At the Wolff’s Apple House cooking demonstration last Tuesday, some of the guests confessed that they, too, had been frustrated making pie dough–sometimes so frustrated they threw the dough against the wall.

If the feeling sounds familiar to you, Marie Connell, who offered pie-making tips last Tuesday, will reassure you: “You can master it.  Don’t be intimidated.”  The fear, she says, can work against you.  Marie Connell’s bakery, MyHouse Cookies, supplies Wolff’s Apple House not only with cookies but also with pies chock-full of local ingredients that come straight from Wolff’s, so Connell spends a lot of time with pie dough.

As she shared tips on Tuesday, “it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.”  Earlier that morning, guests had been joking and laughing, but when it came to pie dough, everyone was “dead serious,” says Marie.  As this intent silence fell, Marie began to share her tips:

  • Use salt and sugar; this improves the color of the dough.
  • Use unsalted butter.
  • Add an acid like vinegar or lemon to the dough.
  • Keep everything cold.
  • Cut the butter really small: less than half an inch thick.  Put it back into the fridge or freezer once it’s cut so it stays cold.
  • Let the dough rest.  Put it back in the fridge for at least half an hour, and don’t be tempted to skip this step even if you’re in a hurry!
  • Roll the dough out on a well-dusted board.
  • Move it so it doesn’t get stuck to the board.
  • Always maintain your shape.  If you lose that round shape, it’s almost impossible to get back.
  • Use glass pans so you can see what’s going on on the bottom (and Marie says she likes the way they look).
  • Use your hands to mix the dough.
  • Blind bake (pre-bake) the crust for pumpkin pie or any other custard pie.

Learning about pie baking was the most silent and serious portion of Tuesday’s class, and there were two other portions as well.  First, Ashley Wolff led an apple tasting.  Marie notes how generous Wolff’s was with giving out plenty of samples.

Later, Marie demonstrated how to make an apple chutney (get the amazing recipe here).  The recipe makes a large quantity, so you can either halve the recipe or put it to many different uses.  Because the chutney uses plenty of vinegar, it keeps for two weeks in the fridge.

Marie recommends pairing apple chutney with any pork product (she sampled it with a pork tenderloin she prepared), on a turkey sandwich, with savory roasted root vegetables or with a grilled Portabella mushroom.  She also suggested just enjoying it on a cracker with cream cheese (or if you’re looking for something fancier, mascarpone).  You could even can it to give as a Christmas gift!  For guidance there, Marie recommends Marisa McClellan’s blog “Food in Jars,” which features a whole section on canning chutney.  Any way you enjoy it, it’s an irresistible chutney with a sweet pickled flavor.

Apple Chutney bites

The cooking class was the perfect way to usher in the autumn apple season, and there’s plenty ahead for MyHouse Cookies this fall.  This week, Marie has been working with peaches.  In coming weeks, she’ll be baking ginger cookies, pumpkin pies, apple pies and apple, pear, cranberry pies (“one of our favorites,” she says).


With apple chutney, ginger cookies and homemade pies, it is sure to be a flavorful fall!