Honey-Glazed Apple Pie for Rosh Hashanah
This year, I finally got it right. My apple pie, if I do say so myself, is on point—just in time for Rosh Hashanah.
In past years, I may have conquered the perfect flaky crust, and certainly that apple pie smell wafting from my hot oven was autumnally soul-satisfying. But there was usually a minor reaction of disappointment when it came to eating the pie itself, which I diagnosed as a failure in the flavor and texture of my apple filling.
Learning to bake, I accepted the standard rule that Granny Smiths were the most suitable apples for baked goods. Yes, they are tart and firm, as a baking apple should be. But there are so many other apples out there with more complex and crisper “apple flavor.”
Indeed, when I asked Liz Rueven, aka KosherLikeMe on Instagram and a longtime board member of the Westport Farmers’ Market in Connecticut, for varietal recommendations for baking, she shared a host of ideas well beyond Granny Smiths.
With her suggestion to blend apple varietals—and my possession of the coveted secret of adding reduced apple cider to pie filling—I was well on my way to the perfect pie.
With the Jewish New Year tradition of pairing apples and honey, I elected to brush honey over the exposed sections of apple filling that poke through the flaky crust’s lattice design. Done right before presenting the pie to guests, the honey lends an appealing shine, reminiscent of elegant French fruits tarts. While that honey shine makes this pie symbolic for the High Holidays, it also makes it a feast for the eyes.
Though not all apple pie recipes call for this, here, I am advising that you precook the apple filling, then thicken it with cornstarch. Precooking allows the fruit to cook down and dispel excess juices, preventing the formation of gaps in the cooked pie. It also assures that the fruit will not come out of the oven undercooked. No one likes an apple pie with crunchy apples.
Tips for successful flaky pie crust? Glad you asked! Leave large chunks of fat (preferably butter, but you can use shortening to make the dessert pareve) in the dough; use a minimal amount of water to bring the dough together; and make sure that everything is thoroughly chilled at every step of the way (a golden rule of pastry baking). Resting periods in the refrigerator ensure that the fat will not melt into the dough. Remember that a cold, firm crust going into the oven equals flakiness when you take your dessert out of the oven.
Even if this year, you can’t share an apple pie with loved ones, you can certainly share this recipe. Better yet, why not prepare for the holiday with a pie bake off—over Zoom, of course!
Wishing you all a brighter year ahead, chag sameach.
Honey-Glazed Apple Pie
Makes 1, 11-inch pie
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/3 cups butter
Up to 1 cup cold milk or water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
10 medium apples (I used a mix of Pink Lady and Granny Smith)
1/2 cup apple cider, reduced (see instructions)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cloves, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg, to taste
Zest of one lime
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice to taste
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons liquid honey for brushing
- Make the pie crust: Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into large cubes and work them into the flour mixture using your fingertips. Stop when they mixture resembles coarse crumbs with scrambled egg-sized pieces of butter throughout.
- Add about 3/4 cup of the cold milk (or water) and the vinegar to the crumbs. Fold this liquid into the mixture with a spatula. At this point, the mixture should resemble moistened crumbs, rather than a cohesive dough.
- Turn the crumbs out onto your work surface and gather them up into a dough. Only add the last bit of liquid if the dough is too crumbly to come together. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, then chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator to firm up the butter and relax the gluten.
- After the dough has chilled, remove from the refrigerator and roll out into a large, 1/8th-inch-thick circle.
- Fold the dough in half and place the folded edge down in the center an 11-inch pie pan. Open up the dough and tack it down all along the edges and in the center using your fingers. Remove excess pie dough along the top edge using a serrated knife, then move counterclockwise around the top edge of the pie, using your fingertips to create a uniform edge. If you choose, you can then go around this edge with the tines of a fork to create a pattern.
- Place the pie pan on a small parchment paper-lined baking tray. Gather up the remaining pie dough scraps, rewrap, and place both the pie dough and the scraps in the fridge to chill while you make your filling.
- Make the pie filling: Peel and core the apples, then cut into medium-sized slices. Combine the apple slices with the sugar, salt, spices, lime zest and juice in a large pot.
- Add the apple cider to a frying pan and cook over medium heat until it reduces by half, which should take a few minutes.
- Add the reduced apple cider to the apples and cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until softened on the outside but still firm on the inside.
- Meanwhile, make the cornstarch slurry by whisking together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Run your finger along the edges of the bowl to get rid of any clumps.
- Add the cornstarch slurry to the apple mixture. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, while stirring constantly, until a thick translucent sauce forms around the apples. Take off heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Once the pie filling has cooled to room temperature, remove the tray with the pie crust and scraps of dough from the refrigerator. Prick the bottom of the pie crust all over with the tines of a fork, then add the apple filling.
- Roll out the pie dough scraps into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle, then cut out 8 strips, about 1 inch in width. Use a ruler and a pizza cutter to achieve straight lines.
- Lay 4 strips down vertically over the pie, spaced about an inch and a half apart, then lay the other four strips across horizontally, alternating weaving them over and under the vertical strips. Lift up the vertically laid strips as necessary to achieve the lattice pattern. Cut the length of the strips, if needed, and press down the ends down along inside wall of the crust.
- Rechill the pie for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dough is firm to the touch.
- About 20 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees°. Brush the lattice top and outside edges of dough with egg wash. Bake the pie for 50 minutes, then cover the top of the pie with a sheet of aluminum foil. Continue to bake for an additional 30 minutes. The pie is done when it has a golden, flaky crust, and a bubbly apple filling.
- Let cool, then brush the exposed apples with honey just before serving.