An American classic tastes heavenly with late harvest Riesling
It caused grave misfortune for Eve. It helped Sir Isaac Newton discover gravity. It turned a simple settler, John Chapman, into an American legend — Johnny Appleseed. The only thing more classic than apples is when they are fashioned into pie. This timeless North American dessert is synonymous with fall leaves, Thanksgiving dinner and good ol’ family values. It’s a dish as humble as, well, pie, but like other American archetypes such as blue jeans and country music, things can go awry quickly. Who better to consult than Food Network chef Anna Olson, author of newly released cookbook Back to Baking ($40, Whitecap Books Ltd.). “Apples are perfect for fall, because they are in season and abundant,” she says. “That combination of buttery pastry and apples baking fills the house with fragrance — so warm and welcoming.” She offers up these three tips to bakers. First, give the pie dough time to rest in the fridge. “This gives the proteins in the flour time to relax, so the dough rolls easily and bakes up tender.” Next, use a few varieties of apples to give your pie character. Finally, she recommends sprinkling the bottom of the pie pastry with oats. “They’ll absorb the juices from the apples as they cook and prevent the crust from going soggy.”
Why It Works
“I would serve a late harvest Riesling because it’s not as sweet as Icewine,” says Olson. “I like that late harvest Rieslings have a tree-fruit character to them, reminiscent of pears or apples and the acidity balances out the buttery pastry.” She also recommends Calvados, an apple brandy from Normandy. “I judged an apple pie contest a while back and the winning pie had Calvados mixed in with the apples!”
Outside the Box
As for what to savour before dessert, Olson recommends sticking with the oven. She says she’d serve a whole roasted chicken or a pork roast with root vegetables. The classics are considered so for a reason, so don’t over-analyze your ideal feast. Simple, delicious food fresh out of the warm oven is going to impress and satisfy anyone at your dinner table.