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There is nothing more homey, autumnal and American than a warm apple pie cooling on the kitchen counter. For making this traditional dessert, look for good baking apples, such as Mutsu, Pink Lady or Empire, then top each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or slices of sharp Cheddar cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. baking apples 
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Basic pie dough for a double-crust pie (see recipe at left)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into thin slices

Directions:

Position a rack in the bottom third of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Peel and core the apples and cut into thin wedges. In a large bowl, toss together the apples, brown and granulated sugars, lemon juice, flour and cinnamon. Set aside.

Roll pie dough into two rounds each 12 inches across and 1/8 inch thick Transfer one of the dough rounds to a 9-inch pie dish, gently fitting the dough into the bottom and sides of the dish. Using scissors or a small knife, trim the dough, leaving a 3⁄4-inch overhang. Spread the apple mixture in the pie dish and scatter the butter slices on top.

Center the second dough round over the apple filling. Trim the dough so it is even with the bottom crust. Fold the overhang under so the dough is flush with the pan rim, then press together to seal. Flute the edge decoratively. Cut a few slits in a decorative pattern in the top crust. Refrigerate the pie for 15 minutes.

Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the juices visible through the slits are bubbling, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8.

Variation: For homemade cherry pie, mix 4 cups pitted sour cherries with 11/3 cups sugar, 3 Tbs. quick-cooking tapioca, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. almond extract. Spread the mixture in the pastry-lined pan. Scatter the butter on top as directed for the apple pie, cover with the second dough round and bake as directed.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).