Saturday, October 15, 2011

Michigan vs. Michigan State Hard Apple Cider Pie

A warning: This pie, much like today's football game underwent a series of ups and downs in its preparation, followed by an outcome that was less than satisfactory. It did taste nice though, so if it still sounds like something you'd want to try out, be sure to read through and learn from my mistakes.

Before I can get to the Hard Apple Cider Pie, I have to tell you a bit about how it relates to Michigan football. So... a bit of background:

The Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry is a very big deal to fans of both schools' football teams! Those who grew up in Michigan also grew up rooting for one team or the other, and those of us who grew up elsewhere and moved to Michigan for school had to scramble to keep up with the rivalry.

Sometimes the banter is friendly, but other times the back-and-forth insults can be downright nasty.

Thanks to this guy, my house said "U of M is a Toilet" from the day of the
Michigan vs.  Michigan State game until the day I moved out!

Beyond the vandalism, last year's Michigan vs. Michigan State weekend was one of the most fun weekends of the season! All of my roommate's high school friends from Michigan State came to stay with us and from the moment I turned on the Michigan fight song at about 8am saturday morning until they left, we all set aside our differences and had a fantastic time!

We cheered...

Played football in the street...

Hula hooped in pairs...

Danced with champagne...

And danced with beer...

More than anything else, we drank a lot of Apple Pie, a drink concocted from apple cider, Everclear, and a package of spices (much like the Pumpkin Pie Spice I shared about a week ago). The night before, a huge pot of this mixture simmered away to create a beverage that tasted a little too much like Apple Pie — a chaos inducing beverage, if you ask me.

Complete. Total. (Fun!) Chaos.

Did I mention, a tree was also climbed?

Yet another great example of Michigan and Michigan State
coming together in harmony to achieve a goal!

In memory and honor of this incredible weekend, I made a pie filled with a spiked apple cider mixture, albeit a milder version of the one we all sipped on before the game.

I made this pie while watching the Michigan vs. Michigan State game and therefore made a slew of mistakes:
  1. First, I over-reduced my apple cider to about 1/4 cup of thick liquid and had to start over. 
  2. Then, I added my egg yolks to the hot cider mixture too soon and they started to cook! I had to strain them out and start over
  3. To top it all off, I folded my egg whites into the cider mixture instead of vice versa.
Any or all of these mistakes could contribute to the fact that even after the top of my pie finally set, the innards still spilled out in a gooey, liquid mess once I cut into it. At least for a moment, the pie looked nice.

Hard Apple Cider Pie (Recipe slightly adapted from Best-Ever Pastry Cookbook by Catherine Atkinson)
Makes one 9-inch pie

Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold or frozen butter, diced
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water (without the ice)


  • In a medium bowl or a food processor, mix together flour, salt, and sugar
  • Add butter and combine with a pastry cutter or 6-8 pulses of a food processor
  • Add water and mix until dough holds together (add more water if the dough is too crumbly/falls apart after you pinch pieces together)
  • Gather dough and flatten into a round, leaving a small amount aside if you wish to cut out shapes to top your pie
  • wrap dough ball(s) in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  • Roll out pastry between two large sheets of wax or parchment paper to a thickness of 1/8 inch
  • Press into pie dish, trim edges, scallop edges with a fork, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes
  • Refrigerate any shapes you make as well

Pie Filling and Pie Assembly:

  • 2 1/2 cups hard cider (I used Woodchuck)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, separated and yolks beaten
  • 1 cinnamon stick plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg for garnish


  • Pour cider into a pan and boil until only 3/4 cup remains, or approximately 1/3 of the mixture
  • Allow cider to cool 15-20 minutes
  • Add butter, maple syrup, water, and cinnamon stick to reduced cider and simmer on low heat for 5-6 minutes
  • Cool mixture slightly (10 minutes or so) and whisk in beaten egg yolks
  • In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until they form stiff peaks
  • With a wooden spoon, gently fold cider mixture into egg whites
  • Pour filling into pie crust and lightly dust with grated nutmeg and ground cinnamon
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the filling is firmly set and golden
  • If you made a pastry shape, bake for 10 minutes and set on top of pie after it cools slightly

Despite an upsetting loss, I still couldn't be more proud to be a Michigan Wolverine! Forever Go BLUE!

Happy Baking!

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