Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brown Butter Apple Pie

Just returned from paying a shiva call. Shiva is the 7 days of mourning immediately following the funeral. The mourner sits on a low stool, in their stocking feet, and accepts visitors who pay their respect to the passed and the family in mourning. I never know what to say. Today's visit was particularly difficult as the woman who lost her mother is a year younger than I am, with kids that are similar in age to mine, her mother was the same age as my mother. She still had a lot of living to do.
I baked a pie, because that's what I do. I felt almost embarassed as I placed it on the table alongside the other bakery stuff. What good is a pie when you're facing the rest of your life without your mother? Inevitably I started thinking about my mother and I how I just assume she'll always be here. If I'm a little abrupt on the phone- no matter I'll call her tomorrow. Sometimes when she's dispensing motherly advice I tune out, because I can always get more.
One day I will be on that low stool, in my stocking feet and I will have to face the concept of my life without my mother. My mother is always on my side, even when I'm wrong. She is like a soft and comfy chair in a world that can sometimes be harsh and unyielding. The world without my mother will be darker with more hard edges. All the brown butter apple pies in the world won't be able to sweeten that.

Brown Butter Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 400F. In saucepan melt 1/4 c. butter over med. high heat, stirring often until lightly browned. Set aside and cool for about 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, peel and core 3 large apples, cut into 1/2" slices. In a small bowl and with wire whisk beat 1/2 c. white sugar and 1 egg until yellow and custardy. Stir in 2 tbsp. all purpose flour and 1 tsp. vanilla. Beat in browned butter with whisk. Pour into pie crust, and smooth over bottom. Arrange apple slices on top. In a medium bowl mix 1/2 c. all purpose flour, 1/4 c. white sugar, 1/4 c. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. apple pie spice together, then with a pastry blender or fork cut in 1/4 c. butter until coarse pea sized crumbs occur, add 1/2 c. chopped pecans. Sprinkle streusel over top of apples. Bake for 50-60 minutes until apples are tender. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent burning.

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