#49 Classic Apple with a Twist

Posted by Chrisi

In November my son turned one-year old. I had a lot of fun planning his farm-themed birthday party. Unfortunately, the traditional “smash” cake was a “no go” due to Z’s allergy to eggs. As a result, we had eggless cupcakes (a mini smash) and apple pie. Nothing says “farm” like apple pie!

I consulted the “Pie Bible” for a recipe and was disappointed by the lack of spices. I like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in my apple pie so I consulted another handy reference… Baking Illustrated by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. Here I found what I was looking for! I followed this recipe for the filling but added a little twist…

A few years ago, I made my own bitters (with mixed results). This short-lived craze led me to purchase “Bitters: A Spirited History of aClassic Cure-All with Cocktails, Recipes and Formulas” by Brad Parsons. While I no longer make bitters (or rarely mixed drinks, for that matter), I do still use recipes from this book, such as “Sweet & Spicy Bitter Bar Nuts” and “Bitter Apple Fried [Baked] Hand Pies.” The apple pie recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of Fee Brother’s whiskey-barrel aged bitters. If you live in a large metropolitan area, you will probably be able to find it (how I miss you, BevMo!). Or if you plan ahead, you can order it online. I live in western Virginia and rarely plan ahead so I substituted Angostura bitters, which can be found in most grocery or liquor stores. The bitter was perfected in 1824 and its ingredients are a proprietary mixture of herbs, roots, botanicals and barks. I will not even attempt to describe the taste of Angostura bitters (cloves? orange?) but will direct you to thecocktailgeek.com. All I can say is “try it!” Add a little Angostura bitters to your apple pie and you will experience a little somin’, somin’ that is totally indescribable—totally transformative. It will take classic apple pie to the next level… guaranteed!

Crust: 9” double pie crust

  • ~1 1/2 lbs (or ~7) apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bitters, such as Angostura (see above)
  • butter and turbinado sugar


Toss sliced apples with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, spices and salt. Toss the dry ingredients with the apples. Add the bitters and mix. Add the apple mixture to the bottom pie shell. Dot with butter. Roll out the top crust and place it over the filling. Trim the dough, if necessary, and seal the pie by making a folded/crimped crust. Cut vent slits in the top crust and dot with more butter. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake the pie at 425 F for 25 minutes, then lower the temp to 375 and bake until bubbly, approximately 30-35 minutes longer. (When you lower the temp, also rotate the pie 180 degrees and add an aluminum foil collar if the crust is getting too brown). Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before serving. I recommend baking the pie a day ahead so it has plenty of time to cool and “gel.” There is nothing worse than an avalanche of hot pie filling from your beautiful, homemade crust!


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