A week or two ago, we bought some downright awful apples. (Serves me right for stepping away from the ever-reliable Granny Smith variety.) I’d been on a hunt to figure out what locally-grown rainbow-ish red apples that I bought a few years ago at a produce stand, and, well, these sad McIntosh apples were not the same. I know not all McIntosh apples are mealy and tasteless, but these were. Sorry, tangent.
Anyway, I couldn’t bear throwing away (sort-of) perfectly good (ha!) produce, so I wanted to at least try to do something with the little devils. Enter a Google search, a weird want for pie, a need for something moderately not-awful-for-you, and something low maintenance, I found a “Rustic Apple Pie” recipe by Ellie Krieger. (She makes me want to claw my eyeballs out on video, but some of her stuff is very well done.) The fact that we were snowed in coupled with my lack of want to fall on my hiney while walking to Publix led me to make a few changes to her recipe. (If you want to read/look at hers, go right ahead.) I was surprised at how ridiculously delicious it was, and how ugly, yet slightly charming, it was. Want to make it? Go for it.
Pretty Ugly Apple Pie
1 cup of whatever flour you have on hand
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar or sugar-substitute
2 pinches of table salt
4-5 tablespoons of COLD, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons skim milk
3 tablespoons ice water
3 apples (I used 2 of the mealy-awfuls and one Granny Smith)
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
(Here comes a ghetto part!) 2-or-so tablespoons from a low-sugar Cinnamon and Spice Quaker Instant Oatmeal (The original recipe called for cornstarch as a thickener, and cinnamon as a seasoning, but I had neither on hand, so I improvised. 4 stars for this improvisation, I think.)
Another tablespoon of brown sugar
For the crust, haul out a food processor. Combine the flour, salt, and granulated sugar in the food processor, just a few whirls. Then add the butter and pulse until combined. You’ll notice little sandy pebbles form. Add the skim milk and ice water, then pulse until it turns into a nice dough ball. (Hooray for a virtually zero-effort pie crust.) Flatten the dough ball a little, wrap in plastic, and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
While you’re waiting for the dough to firm up, core and slice up your apples and toss in the lemon juice. After they’re coated, add in the brown sugar and instant oatmeal mixture (or cinnamon and cornstarch, if you’re not going renegade). Mix around with your hands to combine.
By this time, your dough is ready, and you have two options. Option 1, the option of a sane person, is to roll your dough ball out, with a little bit of flour, until it’s about 9 inches in diameter. Option 2, the option of someone who accidentally THREW THEIR ROLLING PIN AWAY WHEN MOVING AND DIDN’T REALIZE IT UNTIL THEY WERE MAKING THIS PIE, is to manually smush and stretch your dough out until it’s about 9 inches in diameter. (Kind of fun, like making pizza dough.) Place your rolled out dough on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, aluminum foil, wax paper (probably not the best option, since wax paper sometimes likes to get smoky at high temps). Mound your apple mixture in the center of the dough, leaving as close to a 2 inch border as you can. Stretch sections of the dough up and slightly over on the sides, and fold/pinch the joints together.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes. Pull the pie out when the crust is brown and the apples look cooked.
Make a quick glaze from the tablespoon of brown sugar mixed with a little bit of boiling water to your desired thinness. Pour over edges and center of delicious (and probably ugly) pie. Cut into six wedges, then try not to down it all in one day.
Ellie’s recipe has 230 calories per wedge, and I’m guessing that mine is a hair lower than that (BRING IT!), given that I omitted raisins and buttermilk. Don’t take my word for it, but I’ll bet it’s pretty dang close.
Go forth, make easy ugly pie, and eat it.