Matt Sunderland, the talented chef with whom I teach cooking classes, describes dishes that he especially likes as “awesome.” So when he recently started talking about his mother’s traditional Thanksgiving cider pie, using the “A”-word more than once, I took notice.
Just the mention of this special dessert seemed enough to send my friend into a Proustian rapture.
I had never heard of cider pie and was intrigued. “How is it made?” I asked. “Not complicated,” he said, and pulled out a recipe written in typical chef fashion: an abbreviated list of ingredients and a single short paragraph of instruction.
I was anxious to try this pie, so he called his mother for more details.
The unusual filling is made by reducing cider, then cooking this reduced liquid with butter, sugar and water until thickened. When the cider base has cooled, egg yolks are added to it and beaten egg whites folded in.
This simple filling is spooned into an uncooked pie shell, then popped into a very hot oven for 10 minutes so that the crust will start to crisp up quickly. Then the temperature is lowered, and the pie is baked until its filling is set and puffy and a rich dark brown on top.
Although the pie can be served warm, I find that the delectably sweet filling, shiny and almost jellylike in consistency, becomes firmer as it cools, thus making the pie easier to slice.
For my version, I chose a buttery, unsweetened dough for the pie shell and decided to garnish each slice with a generous dollop of lightly whipped creme fraiche. I was in heaven from my first bite.
The golden flaky crust paired beautifully with the smooth texture of the filling, and the creme fraiche topping countered the sweetness of the cider perfectly.
There’s no doubt that this pie is going to be part of the Thanksgiving spread at our house this year, and the two assistants who tested this recipe have decided to include it on their menus Nov. 23rd, as well. It’s a winner. Awesome, definitely.
Beverly Sunderland’s Thanksgiving cider pie served with creme fraiche
1½ cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/4 teaspoon saltView Entire Story
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