I had meant to make a recipe for Canadian Thanksgiving. I got lazy and then I got sick. So, a week and a half late, I present a dessert for our neighbors to the north (or should I say neighbours?).
I always thought the Canadians were so much smarter than Americans—mostly because they had their Thanksgiving celebration when autumn vegetables were actually harvested instead of a month and a half later. But, then I did some research and found out that the first national Canadian Thanksgiving was held in April 1872 to commemorate the Prince of Wales getting over an illness. (It’s considered the first national Thanksgiving celebration because it was post-confederation… but still before they politely asked to not be part of the British Empire.)
Now, I am so much more appreciative of Abraham Lincoln setting our holiday as the last Thursday in November as a way to foster love between the North and South. A bit wider serving than just being thankful one noble guy got over the flu. Of course, Lincoln did this in the middle of the Civil War when the South couldn’t give a whooey what that nutter up North was doing. But still, nice sentiment, Abe. (For those keeping score: No, I’m always correct. FDR changed it to the fourth Thursday in November.)
Anyway, you came for dessert and I shall bestow upon you pie. The filling comes from Out of Old Ontario Kitchens by Christina Bates (seriously authentic, right?). This is not so much a cookbook but a collection of odds and ends from older Canadian cookbooks. Some easily doable in a modern kitchen. Others, are more along the lines of “I’m not about to bring cow heels into my kitchen. Thank you very much.” Because this recipe did not include a crust, I grabbed my favorite pie crust recipe from epicurious.com.
Apple Custard Pie—The Nicest Pie Ever Eaten
(seriously, that’s what they said in the book)
This is what the book said. Then, I’ll let you in on how to actually make this bad boy.
Peel sour apples and stew until soft and not much water is left in them; then rub them through a cullender; beat three eggs for each pie to be baked, and put in at the rate of one cup of butter and one of sugar for three pies; season with nutmeg. [For one pie: 5 medium apples, 3 eggs, ⅓ cup butter, ⅓ cup sugar.]
- 2¼ C all purpose flour
- 1 T sugar
- ¾ t salt
- 1 C (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 6 oz chilled cream cheese, cut into small pieces
- 6 T (about) ice water (why don’t they just say ⅓ C?)
Let’s start with the crust, shall we? Blend flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Using on/off turns (um, I call it pulse), cut in butter and cream cheese until coarse meal forms. With machine running, pour just enough water down feed tube to form moist clumps. (You probably won’t need all of it.)
Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. Can be made 2 days ahead. (Because of the cream cheese, this is a sticky dough. I find it easier to get the plastic wrap out first, then divide and roll into the plastic wrap, and then flatten it into disks.)
Note: This recipe makes dough for a covered pie (so bottom and top crusts). For this recipe, we will only need one. Feel free to freeze the other for later use.
While the dough is chilling, get started on the filling. But, first pre-heat your oven to 450°. (Even though this is a Canadian recipe, I’m going with old fashioned temperatures…. Bah to the Celsius lovers!)
Take your 5 medium, sour apples (I used Granny Smith), and peel and core them. Then, chop them into bits. Boil them down and run them through your cullender (you will probably recognize it as a strainer). I didn’t bother. Instead, I just boiled them down and took my stick mixer to the little buggers. Any way you do it, you will have what appears to be applesauce. Ergo, if you are lazy, use natural, unsweetened applesauce—maybe 2 or 3 cups.
If you do the boil down method, take your pot off the stove and let the apples cool.
In a large mixing bowl, cream your sugar and butter. Mix in your 3 eggs. Once your apples are cool, add them to the mixture along with a few dashes of nutmeg.
Roll out your pie crust, flouring your board as necessary, and place in a deep pie pan. (I used Pyrex, but I’m sure you can use a metal one.) Crimp your edges, if you must. I am supremely lazy when it comes to this stuff. Now, the cookbook recommends doing an egg wash to wet the crust before adding the filling. I feel that this crust is substantial enough to do without the wash. But, you might want to do the top edges for aesthetics.
Pour your pie mix in the crust. Bake for 10 minutes in the 450° oven. Then, turn the heat down to 350° and bake for another 45 minutes or until set (I started checking after about 30 minutes, but my oven is funky sometimes). At the point where I turned down the oven, I also added any decorations to the top of the pie. (The custard will have set enough that it should hold dough shapes.)
In honor of the Canadian-ness of the recipe, I tried to do a wee maple leaf on the top in extra crust bits. My apologies. It was dismal. In fact, it’s so dismal that I didn’t even bother with a picture of it.
Even without the picture, this is a pretty tart pie. It’s good, but it’s not what we typically associate with apple pie or a custard pie. There is no fruit syrup center or meringue on top. Just apple slurry in a custard pie.
But, guess what? It’s pie and pie is love in my heart.