My favorite season is spring. And I crave warm summer nights. But the best season to get back in the kitchen is fall.
I love fall flavors, warm spices, and rustic food. I love hot coffee and crisp, cool morning air. And I love slow, unhurried cooking, because it means I can actually get my homework done.
That’s right, fall also brings the start of another school year. And if all goes according to plan, this will be my last season as a student. So it’s back to the kitchen and back to the books. Last weekend, after a glorious morning in a local apple orchard, I decided to combine the two themes of my life right now– school and cooking– into one warm apple pie.
Let me tell you about this pie. The method (baking it in a paper bag?!) may seem unorthodox, but it’s actually pretty old-school. And it works. Early recipes called for a brown paper bag, but rumor has it that can be a fire hazard. There are oven safe bags, typically used for roasting turkeys, that work really well. (That’s what my momma uses.)
Me? I didn’t want to make an extra trip to the grocery store. So I decided to get creative and came up with a workable if inelegant solution: parchment paper and staples.
Voila! Ingenuity: as American as apple pie.
Apple Pie in a Bag
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 8 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
- 3 Tbs. ice water
- 3 1/2 lbs. granny smith or mcintosh apples
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Prepare crust: combine flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Add ice water and mix with your hands until the dough comes together into a ball. Chill for 10 minutes in the freezer or 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Roll out on a floured surface or between two sheets of wax paper until the diameter is 2 inches greater than your pie plate. Transfer to pie plate and press firmly into the bottom. Freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate for one hour.
Prepare filing: Peel, core, and thinly slice apples to make 8 heaping cups. Toss apples with cinnamon, sugar, and flour. Place apples in chilled pie shell.
Prepare topping: In small bowl, knead together butter, sugar, and flour into a soft dough. Pull dough into small pieces, flatten each slightly, and arrange on top of apple mixture. It’s not necessary to completely cover the apples.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Insert several wooden skewers in pie to prevent covering from touching the pie. Place pie in oven-cooking bag, close with tie, and cut six 1/2-inch slits on top of bag. (Alternately, arrange two sheets of 30-inch parchment paper in a cross shape and place pie plate on top of parchment. Pull paper together over dish and staple together.) Place pie on a baking sheet, making sure cooking bag does not touch oven walls or racks. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until top of pie is golden brown.
Remove pie from oven and slice bag open with kitchen shears. Carefully remove pie from bag and set on a wire rack to cool.
Nutrition facts (per serving): 400 calories, 18.9 g fat, 58.1 g carbs, 5.2 g fiber, 2.8 g protein.