I think that in every relationship, if you think hard enough about it, there’s a key moment. It’s the moment when you know. You’re falling in love. This is serious.
I love asking for these stories from couples, young and old. I love hearing about that moment when one or both of them knew that they were falling in love with the other.
For me, that moment came with a discussion about apple pie.
I had been dating Amanda for a couple months. She had invited me over for dinner, which she cooked for me. I’m not sure what she cooked; it was possibly grilled salmon, or a pasta casserole. What she cooked that night is not terribly important. It’s what we talked about.
Somehow, we came around to the discussion of pie. Pie is essential in life, I think. She once asked me, if I had to live for the rest of my life, and I had to choose one dessert – pie, cake, or cookies – to eat, what would it be? I thought for about an hour (it’s a very big question!), and then I decided pie. Partly because we can also incorporate fried pies, cobblers, and tarts in with pies, and I think I could happily finish out my life with such things.
We discussed, that fateful evening, what sorts of pies we liked (almost all of them) and which ones we weren’t too jazzed about (cherry, for me, and probably mincemeat). Since I was trying to be dazzling and charming and keep her around a little longer (at that point in my dating life, I was firmly convinced that women liked me for anywhere between two to four dates and then tired of me), I announced that I make a fantastic apple pie. (Which is true.)
She said, “Oh, me too.”
And in unison, in a moment of simultaneity that only happens in movies, we both said, “Grandma Ople’s.”
I gasped. I wanted to announce that I both loved her and was horrified by her admission. No one (except for the 5000+ people who have rated it on Allrecipes.com) knows about Grandma Ople’s apple pie. It was like she knew my deepest culinary secret.
And that was the moment I knew: I was falling in love with Amanda. Because of Grandma Ople and her pie. Perhaps that’s weird. So be it.
I don’t know anything about Grandma Ople. Her granddaughter posted her recipe on Allrecipes.com years ago, where I found it and tried it out. It is one of the most popular, most highly-rated pies on the website, and there’s a good reason: it’s easy, it’s delicious, and it mixes butter and sugar for a candied dream of fall flavors.
Because I love her pie so much, and because there’s no way for me to contact her granddaughter (though if she reads this and is willing to talk to me for an article or an essay, please email me at email@example.com), I have sometimes thought about fictionalizing Grandma Ople, writing her into a short story or a novel, her and her delicious pie.
Since I got Granny Smith apples in my CSA last week, I knew it was time to make Grandma Ople’s pie, or as I have renamed it (after I modified the recipe slightly), Falling in Love Apple Pie. Amazingly enough, in the 14 months that Amanda and I have been together, neither of us has made this pie for the other. (My reason had to do with my roommate’s allergy to apples and my desire to keep her alive and well.)
I made my own crust for this one and (true to form) did not realize that the recipe would only make enough crust for the bottom. I tried to stretch it out, make it work for both layers. My hands got hot, partly because I was doing a little stress drinking and partly because I was getting angry at the crust, so the butter melted a bit and that made the dough stretch and stick and turn out, well, dumb. So this crust didn’t come out super pretty, but the pie filling was divine. Every so often I try leaving the peels on the apples, as I did here, and I find I like them better peeled, but that is a matter of preference.
For the original Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie, click this link. My version, Falling in Love Apple Pie, is below.
Falling in Love Apple Pie
Adapted from Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie
1 recipe pastry for 9-inch double crust pie
8 apples (try a mixture of Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp, and/or Johnagold), peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 dashes ground ginger, to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water
1. Toss the apple slices in a large bowl with ground cinnamon and ground ginger. Set aside.
2. Prepare your pie crust, pressing one round into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. The other, roll out onto the counter, and then cut into 1/2″ wide strips with a pizza cutter.
3. Arrange the apple slices evenly in the pie plate, mounding slightly in the center. Starting with the strips in the center of the sliced round of dough, begin criss-crossing the strips over the apples in a basket-weave pattern. This is called lattice-top crust, and there are tons of videos on YouTube that can guide you along. Once your crust is done, put the pie plate on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan. When melted, add the flour and whisk together to form a paste. Add the sugars and the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for five minutes.
5. Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and pour slowly, carefully over the lattice work, making sure it doesn’t run off but rather seeps through the holes in the crust and down onto the apples below.
6. Bake for 15 minutes in a 425-degree oven. Then lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are fork tender.
7. Cool on a rack until just warm. Serve as you like. If the circumstances are right, feed it to someone special, fall in love, and remember the moment you knew.