I admit this is a misnomer. It’s really not mom’s apple pie, at least not my mom. My mom was not a baker. In fact, I cannot remember a single baked good made by her…nada, zilch. That’s not to say we didn’t have desserts or baked goods, they just happen to come from a bakery or restaurant or somewhere else, just not our kitchen. Not complaining though, there were plenty of bakeries in the city. We had almond cookies from Eastern Bakery, apple pie, strawberry cake, pound cake (Sara Lee worthy) from Ping Yuen Bakery and the best damn sugar doughnuts in town (providing you ate them in the first 5 minutes after they were made) from Sun Wah Kue. For special occasions we walked over to Victoria’s Bakery in North Beach, a stone’s throw away from Chinatown, and picked up a St. Honore. Imagine a cake with a rum laced pastry cream covered with billows of whipped cream and then wait for it…little cream puffs perched around the edge. My mom’s absolute favorite cake. My favorite cake? Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake, layers of yellow sponge cake with shards of toffee candy, light and ethereal, ensconced in whipped cream. BEST. CAKE. EVER. Going to Blum’s was magical-marble counters, gold rimmed chairs, fancy chandeliers and glass cases filled with heavenly sweets. Their signature color was hot pink which they used to adorn their walls, boxes and logo. I felt like a little princess every time we went (and trust me, no mean feat since I was a tomboy). A version of this cake is made by The Sweet Shop in Japantown and the Madonna Inn near San Luis Obispo. If you want to tackle it on your own (I’m too chicken) here is a link to Flo Braker’s version from SFGate for Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake. If you do make it, PLEASE invite me over for dessert, I’ll come running!
Whoops, lost in nostalgia. Yes, mom didn’t bake but I picked up the baking bug. I love apple pie. Over the years I have tweaked the recipe given to me by a friend and I call it Mom’s Apple Pie. The crust is made with butter and a little bit of shortening, double F bombs, flavor and flaky-gotcha. I have opted for mace instead of nutmeg, substituted brown sugar for some of the granulated sugar (caramel overtones) and added a squeeze of lemon (cuts the sweetness). You could call this my lifelong project-perfect pie. When apple season rolls around I head to my favorite purveyor of apples Prevedelli Farm. My favorites include Mutsu, Jonagolds, Pippens and Granny Smiths. I combine 2 or 3 different varieties of apples to hit sweet, tart, crisp and soft all in one bite. Experiment that’s my mantra.
So excited another new cookbook (Addiction unabated)! Art of the Pie. I’ll keep you posted.
- You can find the recipe here
- Pastry for 9 inch Two-Crust Pie
- 3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 c dark brown sugar)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dash of salt
- 6 cups thinly sliced pared tart apples (about 6 medium)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Prepare pie crust. Place in fridge to chill while making filling.
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix sugar, flour, mace, cinnamon and salt.
- Stir in apples. Turn into pastry-lined pie plate; dot with butter.
- Cover with top crust that has slits cut in it; seal and flute.
- Cover edge with 3 inch trip of aluminum foil.
- Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Remove foil from edge and lower temperature to 375 degrees, bake until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, 40 to 50 minutes.