The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Baking Apple Pies Like Julia Roberts

In the ‘90s movie “Sleeping with the Enemy,” Julia Roberts plays a woman who fakes her death to escape an abusive husband. She moves to a small town under a new identity, rents a house, and then gets caught picking apples out of the tree of her neighbor, a handsome local teacher. The rest of the plot is predictable—romance ensues, scary husband hunts down Julia but dies a gruesome death in the end. Barely escaping their own demises, Julia and hottie teacher presumably live happily ever after.

But the one scene I remember from that bad movie was Julia Roberts picking apples with her pencil-thin limbs and gathering them in the skirt of her flowing, flowery dress, and then just a few hours later, with no sign of errant flour having escaped off countertops onto the floor, she pulls a perfect apple pie from the oven. I probably watched this wistful scene in my studio apartment in San Francisco while eating tomato soup from one of the Campbell cans that lined my kitchen cupboard like an Andy Warhol museum. Julia Roberts just looked so beautiful, feminine, and carefree, effortlessly baking an apple pie in her country kitchen. At that moment, I wanted to be that pie-baking girl.

Other than that, I never had any desire to make apple pie. I don’t even like apples that much. But just recently I picked up an apple pie from Wiard’s Orchard in Ypsilanti that was surprisingly good despite having been mass produced—likely because they used a mix of local, in-season apples, which made me think of making apple pie again. Then I got stuck with the dessert course for a big dinner at my parents’ house with all of my family in town. I tried to lobby for the appetizer course—“I’m not much of a baker, Mom”—but she held her ground on what she needed me to bring. It was time for my apple pie baking fantasy to finally come true.

I did some research and selected a well-reviewed apple pie recipe from Williams-Sonoma. I read some other blogs on the topic of apple pie and took the advice to use a combination of apples, as they compensate for each other’s weaknesses. (Makes sense to me.) I selected organic Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith apples from big displays at the local Whole Foods Market here in Ann Arbor. They were impeccably fresh and I agree with another blogger on the topic that apple pie should only be made in fall or early winter, when they’re in season. Otherwise, you’re making a pie with months-old apples, or those grown in the southern hemisphere.

Even though I’ve never been big on apples, I began to appreciate them more while doing some taste testing during the slicing. My favorite was the Pink Lady, with an almost floral flavor. The Braeburn tastes like s classic fall apple, and the green Granny Smith offers the necessary tartness for pies but are too bland for snacking.

Apple pie 1

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Peeling and slicing 6 lbs. of apples for two pies sounds like a lot, but it went fairly fast. Williams-Sonoma, of course, advertises a pricey apple corer with its recipe, but no need. I learned a lot of good techniques from a knife skills class I took at Kerrytown several years ago that came in handy here. For symmetrical produce with inner cores/seeds, first cut off the bottom so that the fruit sits flat. Then slice all four sides off the fruit close to the core. Then you can cut the sides into slices.

Apple pie 2

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I cooked the apples in sugar and spices until just tender. Earlier in the day I had made the dough and put it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up. Now things were going to get interesting—working with the dough. To make my life more complicated, I had decided to use cute little autumn leaf dough cutters my husband used to make pumpkin pies many years ago. They had sat in a drawer ignored except for a brief stint as play doh cutters when my kids were young. It was time to use them for their real purpose again.

Apple pie 3

Apple pie 4

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But when you start working with cute little cutters and drawing veins in leaves with toothpicks, and you are doing this with two pies, you are complicating your life. Dough is impossible to work with when it gets warm, and it gets warm fast. So there was a lot of fetching dough from the fridge, rolling out in four different disks, putting scraps back into fridge, putting cut-dough disks back into fridge, pulling dough scraps from the fridge, and rolling out dough for cutouts. (Tip: I put my MacGyver hat on and found that a “pizza peel” worked extremely well for lifting the pie crust in one piece off the rolling board it was sticking too.) I’m happy to report the pies came out extremely well, like . . . classic apple pies. Crust was nice and flakey. Williams-Sonoma’s recipe was good, but next time I’d add more cinnamon.  But anyway, take a look:

Apple pie 5**

In the end, I was glad I got stuck with the dessert course for the family dinner. I finally got to be the girl baking pies in the kitchen. But this was real life, not a Hollywood movie. As I was putting the pies into the oven my husband walked into the kitchen and laughed at the scene: flour all over the counters, flour on me; I had what they call in chef parlance a “messy station.” Then my husband said, I kid you not: “This looks like the scene out of a movie.” Yeah, it sure did. Although I know he was talking about a comedy starring Lucille Ball, not Julia Roberts.

 

The Sicilian

The Sicilian

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23 comments on “Baking Apple Pies Like Julia Roberts

  1. arzea
    November 19, 2013

    This looks amazing!

    • a2sicilian
      November 19, 2013

      Thanks!

  2. Yinzerella
    November 19, 2013

    I totally forgot about the apple pie in that movie!

    I am dating a guy right now who is so fastidious that I keep expecting to hear that music (you know that music) after I use his kitchen.

    I am sure to make sure that all the tea towels are even. LOL.

    • a2sicilian
      November 19, 2013

      Ha ha! Yes, my husband is a little OCD that way. Believe me, I made sure he wasn’t measuring up the tea towels before I married him. Fifteen years later he’s a good yin to my more messier yang. So your new dude may be okay :)

  3. thefoodandwinehedonist
    November 19, 2013

    So you know how to tell the difference between one of your posts and my posts? I would’ve included a hot picture of Julia Roberts. And it probably wouldn’t have been from that movie.

    • a2sicilian
      November 19, 2013

      Julia serving apple pie in a French maid’s outfit=John’s fantasy.

      • Anonymous
        November 19, 2013

        Maybe 20 yrs ago. And without the thought that Lyle Lovett was there. Now about her niece, Emma Roberts …

      • thefoodandwinehedonist
        November 19, 2013

        Wtf?!? Why was my last comment anonymous. U prob figured out who…

        • a2sicilian
          November 19, 2013

          What is wrong with 40-something women? Didn’t SOMEONE just have a birthday? You’re no spring chicken.

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          November 19, 2013

          Nothing wrong with 40+. I’m a big fan of Cindy Crawford, Sofia Vergara, Elizabeth Hurley, even Helen Mirren. But Julia has only been hot-adjacent for me – close but not quite there. And the Lovett thing.

  4. Heather (Sweet Precision)
    November 19, 2013

    Love the fall cut-outs, how festive! I think your pie could rival Julia Robert’s any day! Also, thanks for the promotion of the Dream House! Matt and I had our dinner with wine pairings last night and I’m still reeling in the deliciousness of it all- simply delectable.

  5. a2sicilian
    November 19, 2013

    Oh, I forgot about the Dream House dinner! Well, we’ve had a very busy few days with various things going on so it would’ve been hard to make. Menu sounded fabulous.

  6. The Byronic Man
    November 19, 2013

    I always think people are mocking me, but apparently I have a “gift” for pies. I don’t understand it, and it’s a pretty weird “gift” to have, but I make pies and people flip out. It’s… it’s not quite as manly as, say, a gift for bbq, or a gift for homebrew, but I guess I’ll take it.

  7. a2sicilian
    November 19, 2013

    So what’s your secret?

  8. Beth Bacheldor
    November 19, 2013

    Great article, Mary! I just made an apple pie last week, using a recipe my mom has that calls for granny smiths, brown and white sugar and plenty of cinnamon. Since I now have to eat gluten free (much to my apple pie-, pasta- and beer-lovin’ dismay) i bought a gluten-free pie shell and topped it with a crumble made with gluten-free flour, sugar and butter. It was pretty darn good! I might just have to make another. Although… Whole Foods does sell an already-made gluten-free apple pie that is yummy, too.

    • a2sicilian
      November 19, 2013

      I would’ve liked more tartness; I think next time I’ll change up the ratio for more granny smiths.

  9. Megan @ MegGoesNomNom
    November 19, 2013

    Love that movie. And pies. So fancy!

  10. Andrew
    November 19, 2013

    Magnificent. My favorite. I’m wondering why you pre cooked the apples. I always just slug em in there. Especially with the g-smiths they seem to keep their structure pretty well.

    Did I mention yum?

    • a2sicilian
      November 20, 2013

      You know, I also questioned why the recipe from William Sonoma called for pre-cooked apples. I always thought the same; you just slice ‘em and spice ‘em. Next time I may just go with uncooked granny smiths like you mention.

  11. chef mimi
    November 20, 2013

    Very funny post! Beautiful pie.

    • a2sicilian
      November 20, 2013

      Thanks!

  12. グッチ 財布 ピンク
    November 27, 2013

    グッチ 財布 ピンク モノグラム配置を対称にする必要があります横と上から下へ。かだと思うこれルイヴィトンのハンドバッグがされてに組み込まれてより実用的であるですか?ルイヴィトンのハンドバッグ常にいた永遠アピール。
    バーバリー ネクタイ 値段

  13. weihnachtsgrüße für kunden
    December 15, 2013

    Wer ihre neuen Kauf, um am Leben zu bleiben über Weihnachten werden sie es vergossen .
    Jedes Jahr haben Sie 40 $ ausgeben konnte – $ 150, die auf einer realen Baum , je nachdem, wo Sie
    leben und welche Vielzahl von Baum, den Sie kaufen
    zu bringen. das kann auch eine praktikable Option für das Wartezimmer in Ihrem Büro sein .

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