I love Heather Lanier’s approach to pie. As the owner of the farm, wellness retreat, and cooking school Hill of the Hawk in Big Sur, she makes pies that are stripped down so you can taste each ingredient, highlighting the fruit, which, lucky her, comes straight off the trees a few feet away from the counter where she rolls out her dough. Every note of Heather’s recipe—apple, quince, spelt, and butter—strikes clearer, louder.
The crust is as easy as you-know-what. It’s all done by hand, in a matter of moments, while the apples and quince are macerating in their spices and some sugar. Best of all, you don’t even need to stop to chill the dough. Straight into the oven it goes and an hour later, it’s ready. Pure pie, that’s what it tastes like.
— Charlotte Druckman
• ON-DEMAND: Listen to Faith and Charlotte talk about this recipe as well as how to care for your cast-iron skillet. •
From Stir, Sizzle, Bake by Charlotte Druckman. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. Copyright © 2016 Charlotte Druckman, Photographs Copyright © 2016 Aubrie Pick.
Learn more about Charlotte’s book.
- 2 medium quince
- Juice or 1 orange
- 1-1/2 cups white wine
- 2-2/3 pounds apples
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 1/8 teaspoon flake sea salt
- 12 pink peppercorns finely ground
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups spelt flour
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled (see Recipe Notes)
- 6 tablespoons ice water or as needed
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Make the filling: Quarter the quince. Core and peel them, then halve each quarter so you end up with 8 slices per quince. In a medium skillet or wide saucepan, cover the quince with the orange juice and wine. Cover and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 35 minutes, until the liquid takes on a rose tint and the fruit’s flesh is soft enough to pierce with a knife.
- While the quince simmer, peel and quarter the apples, then thinly slice them, about 1⁄8 inch thick. Set them aside in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla seeds, salt, pink peppercorns, and orange zest.
- Drain the quince and transfer the fruit to a cutting board to cool. Slice the quince a bit thicker than the apples (about ¼ inch thick) and add them to the bowl with the apples. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, toss the apples and quince together to combine. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit and toss again to coat it evenly. Pour the spice mixture over the fruit and toss again to incorporate.
- Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours. Add the butter and, using your fingers, rub it into the flour, breaking it down into pea-size pieces so you have what resembles a coarse meal. Dribble 3 tablespoons of the ice water over it and, using your hands, stir to incorporate the liquid so you begin to form a dough. Continue to add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the dough comes together; it shouldn’t be too crumbly or dry. You may need to add up to 3 tablespoons more, but be careful that the dough doesn’t become too wet or sticky.
- Cut the dough into equal halves and shape each into a ball with your hands. Flatten both balls into discs and place them on a floured work surface.
- Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and the bowl of apple-quince filling as close to your rolling station as possible. Roll the first disc of dough out into a circle 11 to 12 inches in diameter, rotating it 45 degrees after every few rolls, and flipping it over once or twice to get an even thickness. Use a bench scraper or a long spatula to gently peel the dough away from the work surface so you can lift it, carefully, into the skillet. Push the excess dough up around the edges of the pan. Repeat with the other disc of dough, setting it aside while you pile the fruit into the pan.
- Pour off any extra juice that has pooled at the bottom of the bowl of fruit. Using a slotted spoon, place the filling in the dough-lined skillet, patting the fruit down to make sure it’s lying flat. Carefully lift the second dough circle and place it on top of the filling. Fold down the excess dough toward the outside of the skillet, then crimp it in a fun shape around the entire edge.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1/4 teaspoon water to make an egg wash. Brush the entire surface of the top crust with the egg wash, giving it a thick coating.
- In another small bowl, mix the sugar with the salt together to combine, and sprinkle the mixture over the top crust. Using a sharp knife, make two small, clean incisions to form a cross, so steam can escape. Bake for 1 hour, until the crust is golden and the edges are browned. Let the finished pie cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing into it and serving it straight out of the skillet.
• Make sure to dice the butter into smaller cubes than you might for other crusts, because you will not be chilling the dough before baking it. Move quickly to incorporate the butter into the flour so it stays chilled and doesn’t begin to melt. The finer the dice, the faster you can work.
• Feel free to fancy or fatten this pie to your taste: cover the fruit in spiced, salted, or plain-old caramel sauce, or top each slice with a piece of good-quality sharp cheddar.
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