Of all the wonderful foods that are made for Thanksgiving, apple pie is my favorite. New York State produces about 29 million bushels annually, and some of that harvest winds up at the Green Market here at Grand Army Plaza. At other markets too, New York's farmers proudly advertise mouth-watering varieties such as Red Delicious, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Crispin, McIntosh and many more. But which apple(s) will make the best pie? One grower took the novice into consideration and displayed a sign listing the best apples to be turned into dessert.
Now these varieties were not always the favorite of pie makers. Apples sold at the Wallabout Market in 1890 were listed by these names: Baldwin, Ben Davis, Spitzbergen, Northern Spy and Seeknofurther. In The Brooklyn Cookbook, Lynn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy, Jr. write that Henry Ward Beecher was not only a fierce abolitionist and eloquent minister but was also quite an apple pie eater. He had this to say about the apple:
Some people think anything will do for pies. But the best for eating are the best for cooking...and who would put into a pie any apple but Spitzenberg...,
So here from The Brooklyn Cookbook is Beecher Apple Pie, borrowed from the Plymouth Fair Cook Book by Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher.
Grate twelve large sour apples.
Sprinkle in an even teaspoonful of salt, half a nutmeg, a very little cinnamon, and sugar enough to sweeten to your taste.
Add three well beaten eggs, one tablespoonful of butter, the grated rind of half a lemon, if that flavor is relished,
the juice of one orange, and a pint of rich cream.
Line the plates with rich paste, which should be all ready before the cream is put to the apple.
Pour in the custard, and put strips of crust across the top. Bake a light brown, and sift sugar over when done, if liked. If only one pie is wanted, take fewer apples and less cream
And lastly, we leave you with an excerpt from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, (by way of Colliers Weekly).
Apple pie is always the style. Go into a restaurant and ask for a 'cut of standard' and the waiter will bring you a piece of apple pie. He knows what standard pie is. There are times in the year when other kinds make a spurt and run on ahead a little, but apple pie keeps jogging on. and by and by it overtakes them....Next spring when pie plant comes in--some people call it rhubarb, but that always sounds stuck up, and like you were trying to show off--everybody will eat pie plant because it is good for the blood. In the summer peach pie will forge away to the front, and I'll never tell you why. But just as I say, apple pie keeps jogging on, and in the long run wins the race. I mean the right kind of an apple pie. Once in a while you will meet somebody that is always trying to be different from anybody else, and he will go on about English deep apple pie, and how mouch superior it is to the common vulgar thing we eat becasue we don't know any better. Well, English deep apple pie is good; I don't deny that. It can't help being good. You cook apples almost anyway and they're not bad eating, but, law me! when you put them in a crock and turn a little cup upside down in the middle of them and cover it all over with a lid of of pastry, that isn't a pie at all. It's just stewed apples. Don't you see that you must have a bottom of pastry and that there is a just proportion of crust to filling that must not be deviated from one iota or your pie is inartistic and an offense against the laws of taste?"
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you readers, and if you want apple - "We got your apples right here!"