Autumn twirled across the ocean slowly this year, her pirouettes light with a caution that left summer to spin on and on for just a little longer, well into March and April. Never late, she hummed languidly upon her arrival, as her lilting tune eventually reached a crescendo and banished summer beyond the horizon for yet another year. She’s since filled morning shadows with her familiar chill and she’s forlornly begun gathering warm leaves along footpaths. Like the rhythm of her dance, I slow, slow, slow.
Though my mind perennially thrums with lists, ideas, worries and plans, it often finds quiet in the meditative rhythm of cooking and baking. Baking for those near and dear to me, ushering them into a space where they too can slow, be present, can feel.
There’s something profoundly cathartic about making a pie from scratch: the act of crumbling flour and butter, kneading the dough and rolling out the soft crust; putting seasonal ingredients through the motions and retrieving them from the oven gathered together under a perfect golden lattice dusted with sugar. What’s more, there’s something gloriously ancient about the childlike eagerness that gleefully watches the golden pastry and its syrupy filling collapse under a pie spade. And so, in autumn, I spend afternoons coring apples, kneading dough, weaving lattices from pastry. For me. For you. For all of us.
I’ve served this pie of mine to family and friends for a number of years now and it’s a well-loved favourite. It’s developed quite a reputation and I quietly revel in the fact that people will often mention “Courtney’s Apple Pie” with a twinkle in their eye. I’d make again and again just to see the smiles of delight that grace the faces of my loved ones, their children and even new acquaintances who can’t resist the temptation.
I think every autumn, whether it’s your first or fiftieth, should include a pie (or several).
So, as the wind begins to chill our glass window panes and the days become shorter than they were before, I want to invite you, too, to slow and to feel. To feel the weight of where you are – whether it be a season of melancholy, of overwhelming joy, of loss, of yearning. To feel, to reflect, to be present, and perhaps to change. In the pensive reflection, there’s a healing found in the rhythms of the kitchen and the hearth. They know well the weight of love that is shared around a table – of silent tears, trembling hands, raucous laughter.
I yearn for those moments around the table. Those moments where words, embraces and heart songs tread unashamedly. Those moments where we are truly nourished.
Cinnamon-Sugared + Spiced Apple Pie Ingredients: 500 grams | plain flour 250 grams | butter 300 grams | caster sugar (+ extra for dusting) 2 | eggs 1.5 kilograms | apples 1 teaspoon | cinnamon Method: 1. Rub the cubed butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 2. Stir through half of the sugar and both beaten eggs. 3. Knead gently and briefly until it forms a soft ball of dough. Leave to one side. 4. Peel and cut the apples into small pieces. 5. Add the remaining sugar and the cinnamon. Toss to combine. 6. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until large enough to form the shell in the pie tin. 7. Lay the pastry into the pie tin, gently press into the edges and trim the excess. 8. Place the filling into the pie shell. 9. Re-roll the remaining dough and trim to form a lattice. Once you've laid out the lattice, seal the edges. 10. Sprinkle the pie crust with caster sugar. 11. Place the pie in the oven for 40 minutes.