The Chicago Botanic Gardens and Apple Harvest Pie – My Oh My!

As promised from the last foodie post, this Friday’s Pie Day was dedicated to the prodigal son of autumn: the apple.

Earlier this week I went to the farmers market in search of the best baking apples.  Holy mackerel there are a zillion types, each perfect for one dish or another.  I think apple distinction will be a completely separate blog all together.

Once I picked out the appropriate apples, with the help of the guy at the booth, I went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.  It was like the perfect fall day!  Sunny, crisp, and colorful!  One of my favorite people, Carolyn B., calls that giddy feeling about weather “the Zest for life!”  I had to take advantage of the Fall Zest.


The Dusty Miller plants contrasting purple kale.



Flaming orange mums!



These weirdo pods. Very Alien.



These fluffy dusters were everywhere.



A bouquet of traditional prairie plants.



Thistle kissing butterfly caught in the act.


After this impromptu photo session I made a pit stop at the gift shop.  What? I like to look at their book collection and pretend I’m a world class gardener…  Anyhooters, while perusing, I came across this book and it couldn’t be, well, more meant to be!


I mean, I had a bushel of apples IN my car waiting for me. Of course I had to buy it.


Now let’s talk pie. Apple harvest pie.  I’m getting more involved with the procedures of baking said pies.  More steps with this one so I hope to maintain your interest until the end.  My sous chef is wicked cute so there’s that.  Keep reading.

First make your pie crust and let it chill for about 30 minutes.  Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Then start the process by rolling out the bottom crust and place it in the dish.  This in preparation for the first glaze.  Round two comes just before you send ‘er off the sauna/oven.


Apricot preserves and pie crust, pre-glaze.


This recipe calls for apricot preserves or orange marmalade.

Take 1/4 cup of preserves and melt into a liquid form.


Then brush the bottom until it is completely covered and place back in the fridge to chill.


Next, pick out 5 large apples to peel.  I actually used two different types of apples to keep you on your toes.  I know, I know, “Look out!  Living on the edge party people!”


Choose your weapons. A peeler and an apple slicer.



Just threw this in here to be artsy schmartsy.


Since it’s almost Halloween, how about a horror movie homage through apple imagery??


Check it out! "Nightmare on Elm Street" for apples!



I feel like there had to be a scary movie about Johnny Appleseed at some point, no? Who knows Wes Craven? We might be onto something!


Once all of the apples are sliced and diced and minced and peeled and whatever other Freddy Kruger thing you can think up, put them in a bowl and toss them with lemon juice.  2 tablespoons should suffice.


Then pop the bowl into the fridge.


This will help keep them fresh while you move onto step 3.


The sugar/flour/cinnamon/nutmeg mix.


Mix 1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar with 2 tablespoons of all-purpose baking flour with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Then pass it over to your trusty sous chef:


This Friday Pie Day we feature the culinary wizardry of Eamon McKim, age 2.


Now comes the artistically creative bit.


Layer half of the apple slices on the bottom of the chilled dish.



Sprinkle half of the sugar mix over the apples.


Repeat the apple/sugar mix layering. Disperse 1 tablespoon (or so) of BUTTER evenly before covering the pie with the top coat.


I bet you thought I forgot about our favorite character in these baking sagas. For shame. Butter is a bakers best friend. Trust.



Here's another artsy fartsy shot. In't she a beaute?


Here we go with the second glazing.


Brush the top of the unbaked pie with 1 1/2 teaspoons of milk.



Shiny little champion. Such pride.



Pinch (or 1 teaspoon) of sugar.


The damp crust helps the sugar stick.


Sprinkle the sugar evenly. Not too much, but just enough add a slight sweet taste.


Off to the spa for your sweetie pie!  Did you see what I did there??  Bake for 50 -60 minutes.

Break time.  Taking advantage of the porch as much a possible before Old Man Winter migrates back to the Midwest.


I have a new friend to keep me company while I check my email and bask in the late afternoon sun.


When the pie is done it should look sinfully good.


Like this! A golden brown imp-ish treat calling you to dive right in while it's piping hot.


Alas, it’s important to let it cool.  Then it’s time to see what the panel of expert tasters think.


Quick Public Service Announcement from Eamon and Ali: It's important the blow really hard so as not to burn your mouth.



Quick PSA #2 from Eamon and Ali: Don't forget to breath while you inhale the slice.


A sign of a job well done:


A fork toast! Hip hip hooray!



Half eaten success!


Shortly thereafter Eamon entered into an epic sugar rush in which he proceeded to play piano, play with the kitten, and read a book at the same time.  It was an impressive 30 minutes.  He may have even learned a new language, not sure though.  I was too busy running around to document.  Next time, promise.

This week’s all American apple blog was brought to you by Steve Earle, Mason Jennings and The Tallest Man on Earth.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Misty on October 13, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Holy gloriousness!!! But um… I missed the step on how the hell you lay the top layer on so well and pinch it beautifully!!???

    Well done, well done.


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