James Beard Award Winning Pastry Chef and soon to-be owner of Theorita in San Francisco, Angela Pinkerton shares her Grandma B's amazing Apple Pie recipe and a little bit about her journey with our Inherited Plate community!
Now, what could be more American than Apple Pie and some gritty hard work?
About 4 Octobers ago, Angela Pinkerton and I went on a little quest to find the best apple pie in NYC. The air outside was newly crisp and we were sitting at a bar on a Monday night, as cooks often do, yapping about food. We got on the topic of Angela’s favorite dessert, Apple pie.
After a few bourbons, the urge for dessert called and 5 a la modes later (that night and over the next few weeks), we were feeling a little deflated. They were all pretty much just ok. How could it be so hard to find a great apple pie in the big apple?
Now granted we’re not talking about the awesomeness of places like Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a Brooklyn based shop kicking some serious pie making ass nor a bunch of other great spots in Manhattan.
For Angela, nothing compared to her Grandma B’s old-fashioned apple pie. Not a crisp, not a crumble, just pie.
I asked her to find a time to come over and teach me the recipe, but as fall is swamped for restaurants in NY, it never happened. It wasn’t until the following year when she announced her big move to San Francisco that we finally buckled down to work on recreating this recipe.
We made a whole stink of it too.
We took a trip to upstate to pick apples and in the car, I asked about her family life, her first food job and when she decided to become a chef.
What I learned about her that day was pretty freaking amazing.
Grandma B had an apple orchard in the country. When she was a little girl, Angela spent her summers and afternoons, outside with her sister April, working, playing and picking apples off the ground that later were made into sauce.
Her grandpa would attach a small carpet to the back of his tractor and take the kids on magic carpet rides through the long rows of apple trees lining the orchard.
In high school, Angela’s first kitchen job was in her local Burger King in Ohio (yes, she was voted employee of the month after killing it at each station).
Then, during college, Angela got her next job decorating cakes at a supermarket, eventually worked at a bakery and started her own small business making cakes for people’s special events.
In order to pursue her passion, Pinkerton applied to pastry school in Washington, DC at 26 and spent the next chapter of her life studying at L’Academie de Cuisine’s pastry program and working at The Ritz Carlton in Alexandria, VA.
Whenever Angela hit a crossroads in her life and had the opportunity to stay somewhere or take a big risk, her motto was always “fuck it.” And she’d take the plunge.
She did it the first time when she left Ohio, remembering her Grandma’s support, and at 29 years old, when she attended a demo led by then pastry chef of Eleven Madison Park, she was blown away by the flavors, textures and colors of the plates that day. She saw they had an open position and took a trip to NY to stage and apply.
She got the offer and guess what she said? “fuck it!”.
Angela packed her bags and came to NYC with only a couple of 100 dollars, enough to rent an apt an hour away from work, where she was making what a NYC line cook makes (not a lot), working 14 hours days, slowly climbing up the ladder in EMP’s pastry dept.
Just a few years later (4 years to be exact), Pinkerton was up on a stage accepting one of the highest honors an American chef can receive, a James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Angela’s story is truly that of the American Dream and why people come to NYC in the first place, to achieve great success.
What are the lessons she inherited? Well for one, put your head down and work hard. Two, don’t cut corners and have integrity in everything you do. Lastly, is saying “fuck it” because you never know unless you put yourself out there and take a risk.
When I asked her what makes her most proud as a chef, she said it’s when an extern or young cook comes into her kitchen and no one thinks they can handle the heat. That’s the person she is rooting for, that she spends time with- that in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, that cook is killing it, making beautiful quenelles, expediting the line at evening service, their mise en place on point and communicating well with her and the rest of the team.
For Angela, her team is family, having them know she is there for them at any time, at any hour for support.
She can have a tough often, quiet exterior, but she actually wells up in tears when she talks about her team.
That heart, that labor of love, is present in Angela’s cooking and most certainly in this Apple Pie recipe she has shared with the The Inherited Plate. It’s her Grandma B’s tasty pie filling and Angela’s flaky buttermilk crust combined to make the ultimate classic American dessert.
For the Pie dough: Makes enough for bottom and top layer
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2/3 cup cake flour
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks), cubed and cold
1/4 cup cold buttermilk
1/4 cup iced water
For the Filling:
6-8 fuji apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
6-8 ginger gold apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
(Total 9 cups assorted apples peeled, cored and sliced)
1/4 cup sugar light brown sugar
½ cup granulated white sugar
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. instant tapioca
1 large lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pats
Milk for brushing
Sugar for sprinkling
Equipment: 9” pie plate and a Rolling pin
For the Dough:
Mix the flours, sugar and salt together.
Cut the butter in with your fingers until you get pea size crumbles.
Drizzle in the buttermilk and iced water. Mix just until combined, wrap and chill for at least one hour.
Roll the dough out to 16 X 5” rectangle and fold in 1/3rds like a book. Wrap and chill again for at least 1 hour.
Repeat this process again and chill for another hour.
Cut the dough in equal halves. Roll each portion out to 12 inches in diameter. Chill while preparing apples.
For the Filling:
Toss the apples with the sugar, spices, salt, tapioca, and lemon juice.
Transfer one crust to pie plate. Add the filling, top with butter.
Transfer the second layer of dough carefully over the apples. Gently press the crust over the apples.
Cut off the excess dough leaving 1 1/4” overhang. Gently press the bottom and top layers together and tuck the dough under itself to seal. Crimp the edges.
Using a sharp knife, poke holes all over the crust to release steam.
Brush with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake another 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Allow the pie to rest at least two hours before serving or completely cool.