Apple Dessert, Two Ways


Photo by avlxyz/Flickr CC

Having just given my recommendations on which apples to eat, I thought I might go one step further and give my personal recipes for the best apple desserts. In the family I specialize in desserts--good tasting if not good looking unless one of my daughters is helping with the aesthetics. Unlike most dessert makers--and despite graduate training in chemistry-- I do not put a whole lot of stock in precision, so many of the recommendations include dashes and shakes. Here goes for the first recipe: Apple pie. The key to a good pie is to get both the crust right and the apple insides tart enough to be interesting.

You'll notice the recipe calls for either butter or margarine. I have cooked all my life with margarine because when we were being raised margarine was thought to be more healthy. That was shown to be false--at least the margarines that have a lot of trans fatty acids and such are probably worse for you than butter. Nonetheless this habit has stuck in no small measure because I also keep kosher and you can make a good apple pie for a meat meal with some of the high-end margarines that have no trans fatty acids and a Kosher parve certification. Purists will insist on butter. I have threatened taste-testing contests to see if people can tell which pie is made with butter and which with good margarine, but have yet to have the definitive proof. Suffice it to say, many people enjoy this pie recipe with margarine--butter probably can only make it better.


    • 2 ½ cups of flour
    • 5 tablespoons sugar
    • A few shakes of ground cinnamon
    • 12 tablespoons butter or margarine.

Put flour, sugar cinnamon into a mixing bowl and cut up the butter or margarine into the flour mixture. Turn on mixer. When crumbly, keep the mixer going and add apple cider 1 tablespoon at a time until about 4 ½ to 5 tablespoons are added. The dough should come together in a ball. Place in plastic wrap and put into refrigerator.

Apple filling

    • 6 to 7 (or even 8) apples
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • ½ cup sugar--brown or white
    • 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons corn starch
    • A few dashes of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg

Which apples, you might ask? The last version I did I used Cortland apples. But good golden delicious work as do many others. I prefer tart apples to give the pie real flavor.

Core, skin and thinly (1/4 inch wedges) slice apples. Place into a bowl and toss with sugar, lemon juice, corn starch and spices. Flour a counter top and rolling pin. Take 2/3 of refrigerated dough and roll out until circle will fit into pie pan. Place in place pan. Put in apple filling and over quadrants and in the middle place butter or margarine pads. Roll out remaining 1/3 of dough and place on top of apples. With a knife mush together the top dough and the dough in the bottom of the pie pan all around the pan.

Now comes the aesthetic part. You need to take a fork and poke holes in the top dough to let the steam out. Make it pretty. If you have the talent--or a talented daughter--you can also use the extra dough to make a nice apple decoration for the middle of the pie.

(If you are ambitious--and I am not--brush melted butter or milk on the top of the dough and then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.)

Pre-heat oven to 450. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes and serve.

Recipe: Apple Crisp

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Presented by

Ezekiel J. Emanuel

Ezekiel Emanuel is director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

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