Fall is finally here. And with it that sweet smell of decay. The trees setting their leaves on fire as if in a phoenix moment, to the promise of being reborn again in a few months time. And we look on to see how this magnificent transformation begins, the young turning to old, the leaves continue to change their color, dying in the most magnificent manner.
Fall is my favourite season. It is the perfect season for anyone with a penchant for melancholy. And, oh boy, do I have a thing for it. Its my best friend for all days of the year and even when the seasons turn to lighter shades and brighter days, it holds my hand secretly. But it is in these chilly days that it truly blooms in my heart.
It is in this season of transformation that we must morph ourselves. Though even though we don’t see the twilight of our lives in 365 days, it surely will come one day and knock on our doors. So what better time than now, in this season of burnt orange landscapes, to reflect on who we are. I spend most of my days in a stupor of self reflection. Wondering eternally my place on this planet and the bad in it. Its those moments that finally show me how wonderful the people around me are. How loved I am and how much love I need to give back. And, so I live in a constant loop of contradiction. But will have it no other way.
As much as change is not a state I welcome, I am still grateful for it. And so, when I go from this dark mood, which sees only the bad around me, to light, where I see the joy and laughter of life, noticing and discovering the nuances in every mood and learning the ever tiny details in myself and my immense capacity to love beyond social convention, that is what I welcome. However tortured it may be. Because… “there is no love of life without the despair of life.” Albert Camus.
I am told that the Dutch apple pie is the best in the world. I think this is true. And then I go and change it a bit. This may be a big folly but it was worth a try. And I’m glad I did. I decided to add a small amount of speculaas spices which I call the Dutch garam masala! You can totally make it at home, fresh to go into your apple pie. It really is quite delicious.
- For the Crust
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 225 grams unsalted butter, cold and cut in cubes
- 6 to 8 tbsps ice water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- For the Filling
- 4-5 medium apples, cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp speculaas spice powder
- ½ cup brown sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
- 3 tbsps plain flour
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Gently mix in the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Work the flour till it resembles bread crumbs and then gradually drizzle in ice water, folding with your fingers, one tablespoon at a time. Add just enough water to hold the dough together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a mound. Divide into 2 discs and wrap each with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Position oven rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 345°F/175° C.
- Butter and flour a 7-inch pie dish. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the discs of dough into a 14-inch circle. Roll dough onto your pin and unfold into the prepared pie dish. Press dough into sides and bottom, and trim all but 1-inch of the overhanging dough. Set pie dish in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the rest of the pie.
- Prepare the filling by combining the apples, sugar, flour, lemon zest and juice. Set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the second disc of dough into a rough 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Use a pastry cutter or sharp knife to cut strips, flowers, whatever or however you wish to decorate your pie top.
- Spoon the filling into the chilled pie shell. Lay the dough strips parallel across the pie. Weave in the other strips in the other direction. Trim any excess dough. Brush top of crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar.
- Set the pie on a baking sheet and slide into oven. Bake pie for upto 60 minutes or until pie is golden brown. (If edges browns too quickly, tent with foil.)
- Allow pie to cool completely, atlas an hour.
Mix, 50 grams of cinnamon, 15 grams nutmeg, 10 grams ground cloves, 10 grams ginger powder, 5 grams pepper, 5 grams anise, 5 grams ground coriander powder, 5 grams crushed cardamom (about 3 pods). And there you go, you have speculaas all ready!