For a decade or more it has been my duty and privilege to bring pie or the equivalent to Thanksgiving dinner. Not pecan: for even longer my cousin C has made two pecan pies every Thanksgiving. Why two? Because each pie uses one-half bottle of Karo syrup. And why pecan pie, really? Because C started making it with her children when they were very little, and it’s very easy. So no pecan for me, and pumpkin pie isn’t part of our story (nor am I interested in it), so it’s usually some kind of apple pie. I’ve never been all that interested in classic double-crust apple pie, either (partly through dread of Flaky Pie Dough and partly because it seems, well, doughy), and I’m kind of fidgety, or to put it more flatteringly, experimental, so we’ve been through many kinds of pies and tarts. For several years I made an oatmeal-crusted apple pie with custard, from the Moosewood Broccoli Forest cookbook. It was good but ugly, because of the yellowy custard. (Only recently have I found some recipes that finish off with a crumb topping to cover up the custardy blobs.) Then I made something that went down in history as “Tree Pie,” because I didn’t have any leaf-shaped cookie cutters to make the crust decorations, but I did have a tiny tree-shaped cutter from some hand-me-down set of Xmas shapes. This was requested again the next year — but I couldn’t find the recipe. (Cousin A had pictures, though, and I did find it again a year later.) One year I made an unsuccessful tarte Tatin; the caramel didn’t caramelize. It was still pretty tasty with whipped cream.
Well, this year I made what is certainly the simplest, quite possibly the prettiest (or tied with the Tree Pie), and up there with the tastiest apple pie/tart/cake I’ve ever done. It was Smitten Kitchen’s Simplest Apple Tart from 2007, a recipe descended from Jacques Pepin by way of Alice Waters, with tips on rolling from her Pie Dough 103 post: a pate brisee in which I left plenty of blobs of butter, apples, a little sugar, a little more butter, the dough folded over a la mode de galette. The apples were Galas. The only slightly fancy thing was the syrup made from the peels and cores, which I thickened a bit with a half-teaspoon of apricot jam and poured on at the table.
Hmph. This is far too long. Skating and kittens, stage 2 of my Thanksgiving weekend, will just have to wait.