Apple fans like to debate which varietal is best suited for baking, but JerzyBoyz Farm's Wynne Weinreb contends there's no one right apple for a holiday pie.
"People want Granny Smiths or Gravensteins or Mackintoshes," Weinreb says, ticking off a few of the most popular baking apples. "I'm totally sold on a mix of apples. It's the way to go."
Weinreb is so taken with how different varietals can create a prism of encrusted flavors and colors that she sells "pie blend" assortments of her organic apples and pears. She recently used those fruits to create a Julia Child-inspired tarte tatin.
"It's amazing," Weinreb says. "I got raves. It's certainly no more complicated than apple pie."
Weinreb began playing with pie recipes after seeing the movie Julie and Julia, and taking a pie class at the U-District Farmer's Market. The five-acre orchard she and her husband, Scott Beaton, tend in Chelan provides plenty of heirloom fruit for experiments. But Weinreb says her strives to give her customers the same opportunities.
"I really don't hold anything back," Weinreb says of the varietals she brings to market. "We sample at our booth, and you can sample 30 varieties of fruit."
In addition to dozens of different apple and pear varietals, Weinreb and Beaton grow peaches, plums, cherries and nectarines. After the couple moved west from New Jersey in 1979, Beaton worked in orchards as a contract thinner and pruner; "it all fell together," Weinreb says of the opening of their own farm a decade later.
Weinreb sells JerzyBoyz fruit at the U-District and Ballard Farmer's Markets. Years of selling hasn't dimmed Weinreb's enthusiasm for the wares her fellow vendors offer.
"Carrot growers bring ground flour!," she says. "The market just dazzles me every time I go there."
La Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin
For the crust:
1/2 cup ground organic almonds (I grind them in my Cuisinart, you can use a coffee grinder or a hammer if necessary)
3/4 stick unsalted chilled butter (the folks at Sea Breeze Farm have the best butter ever eaten) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil, chilled
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp to 1/3 cup cold Jerzy Boyz apple cider, as needed for dough to hold together
For the filling:
7 lbs Jerzy Boyz famous pie blend of apples or pears (this assortment changes weekly!)
Juice from 1/2 organic lemon
1/4 cup dried plums or apricots
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
Plus the following:
3 tbsp soft butter
1 cup (organic) brown sugar
4-5 tbsp melted butter
heavy cast iron frying pan and a stainless steel cookie sheet (the same size or larger than the frying pan).
Grind nuts and flour or oat mixture in food processor with butter, coconut oil, sugar salt and cider, adding only enough liquid until mixture forms a mass.
Empty onto board, knead briefly, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or two.
Quarter apples and remove cores, slice into lengthwise wedges, no thicker than 3/4-inch. Toss in a large bowl with lemon and sugar, allow 30 mins to render excess juice.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Smear soft butter inside cast iron pan with the bottom getting most of the butter. Spread 1/3-inch of sugar over the butter, then neatly fan the apple slices to cover the bottom. Sprinkle one tablespoon of melted butter and one tablespoon of sugar. Then more apple slices, more melted butter, more sugar, more slices.
Roll the dough out to the size of the pan (i like to use a pastry cloth), roll up on pin and unroll over apples. Tuck into sides of pan and cut 6 steam holes through the top of dough.
Set tarte pan on stovetop at medium heat for 4-5 minutes, then place in oven middle rack with a drip pan placed underneath. Bake for 30 minutes, until the crust is crisp and brown and juice is thick. Using a heavy pot holder, remove pan and set over moderately high heat on the stove top for several minutes, shaking pan so apples wont stick on bottom. This will caramelize the bottom of the apples. When juices are all but evaporated, tarte is ready to unmold!
Place cookie sheet over pan and holding together very tightly, quickly invert the contents so the tarte is now on the cookie sheet. If the tarte did not unmold properly, rearrange slices using a spatula. Serve with ice cream, creme fraiche or Coconut Bliss.