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  • Writer's pictureChef Kelly Unger

Apples have it all!

An apple a day helps keep the doctor away has endured as a saying because of the truth to the apple's amazing health benefits. “Never underestimate the power of an apple. This fruit’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a top pick when you’re faced with practically any illness.” says Anthony William in Life Changing Foods. He continues. “The phytochemicals in apples make them true brain food, feeding neurons and increasing electrical activity... Apples also have traces of flavonoids, rutin, and quercetin - phytochemicals that are responsible for heavy metal and radiation detoxification - as well as the amino acids glutamine and serine, which help detoxify the brain of MSG. This fruit helps cleanse and purify the organs, improve circulation in your lymphatic system, repair damaged skin, and regulate blood sugar.”

As we all embrace this cooler weather and embrace Fall food, apples are the first to arrive on scene. Going apple picking at a local orchard is top on the list of quintessential Fall activities. If you’re like me, there are some obligatory first steps with apples. I always love eating them raw but especially the first few weeks of their arrival at the farmers market. I love buying several different varieties and enjoying the subtle and not so subtle differences between them. Raw apple slices with my favorite cheddar never grows old, apples slathered with chunky peanut butter is a fabulous snack, sliced apples in salads, on sandwiches and apple slaw are all perfect ways to celebrate the raw, crispness of an apple. The first pie of the season is always an exciting proposition. There’s so many “styles” and types of recipes; double crust, single crust with crumb topping, slab pie, crostata, French Apple. The list goes on. Then of course there’s cake. And, my personal favorite, caramel apples from Raymer’s.

As you know, I always advocate for keeping the peels on fruits and vegetables as often as possible - and I usually always feel it’s possible. But you will always end up with a core. What to do with all of those cores? Add one to your daily drinking water glass, pour boiling water over a few to make apple core tea as a delicious and nutritious bedtime self care treat, and add them in with vegetables when making broth.

One of my favorite restaurants in Washington D.C. is Founding Farmers. When I saw they had a cookbook at my last visit, of course I had to purchase it. I’d like to share their recipe for Dutch Apple - Caramel Pie. This pie has everything going for it - stacked high with apples, applesauce and caramel inside, and streusel topping. If you decide to make this your first pie of the season, just know that I am fully behind that decision. They use two different kinds of apples here that can be swapped out for different varieties, as long as they are baking apples. Eating apples turn mushy in the oven. And whether you use your own homemade crust or an organic store bought crust, to help your crust from becoming soggy during baking, brush it with whipped egg whites once you get it settled in the pie pan and before adding the filling. The egg whites help form a moisture barrier. The recipe also calls for you to peel the apples. But you know how I feel about that! Don’t do it! This pie has a bit of sugar so salvage some nutrition by keeping the skins on. Just my humble opinion. My notes are in parentheses. Enjoy!

Dutch Apple-Caramel Pie

From The Founding Farmers Cookbook

Makes one 9-inch pie


3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced

6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

7 tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Streusel topping:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temp)

½ cup cake flour

1 recipe pie dough (1 crust) refrigerated

½ cup applesauce

5 teaspoons Caramel Sauce (recipe to follow)

(make caramel sauce first, then proceed)

Combine all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl, tossing the apples to coat them evenly.

In a small bowl, combine the streusel ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until the texture is crumbly.

When you are ready to assemble and bake the pie, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and place a rack in the lowest position. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to 1/4 “ thick. Line an ungreased pie pan with the dough. (Remember to brush the dough now with a whipped egg white) Fill the bottom of the pie shell one third of the way full with the filling, about 1 ¼ cups. Spread half the applesauce and half of the Caramel Sauce over the filling. Repeat with another layer of filling, applesauce, and Caramel Sauce. Top with the remaining one third of the filling.

Spread the streusel topping evenly over the entire surface of the pie. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

Caramel Sauce

From The Founding Farmers Cookbook

Makes 2 cups

1 cup heavy cream

1 ⅔ cups granulated sugar

½ cup water

Place the cream in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Decrease the heat to very low to keep warm.

Place the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. Do not stir. Let cook until the sugar melts and the mixture turns a golden amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream until well mixed. Let cool.

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