Dropping temperatures, cups of piping hot cider and the first hints of changing leaves all signal one thing to me—-Mabon!
Today, I invite you to join me on a little journey to the apple farm to gather local, fresh, in-season fruit right off the tree for a classic, farm-to-table Mabon dessert that fills the belly and warms the soul.
So what is it about apples and Mabon, exactly?
Symbolizing temptation, enchantment and love, apple season ushers in a time on the Wheel of the Year that asks us to reflect on the mysteries of the natural world and our role in it.
Apples and apple trees appear in all kinds of pagan lore and rites, specifically as they relate to Mabon and Samhain.
In many neopagan homes, apples pile high on personal altars as an offering to the gods or to give thanks for a plentiful harvest season, but practitioners use apples all year round in witchcraft for various reasons according to their metaphysical properties.
Because the highlight of Mabon generally involves a big meal, I always want to get the freshest available, locally-sourced ingredients in order to stay as close to the earth as possible.
Off to the Apple Farm!
Without further delay, I picked a sunny day, packed up my toddler, took a drive through the country and went apple picking!
If you live in a region where apples grow well, look up a pick-your-own farm and try it. It’s a lovely way to make a day of Mabon before your harvest feast. And as a bonus, you get to bring home a key ingredient.
Spiced Apple Pie
I love apple pie! Mabon feels incomplete without a piece or two. This year, I decided to make hand pies, or smaller, fold-over versions in individual portions.
For the pie crust:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons ice water (you may not need all of it)
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
3-4 medium granny smith (or other tart) apples, cored, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup brown sugar (more if you like it sweet)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
To baste pies:
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
Mix salt with flour.
Cut cold butter into flour. When making pie crust, it is extremely important to keep the butter cold.
Once the butter melts, it’s ruined. You can’t re-cool it and make it work.
The easiest thing to do is use a food processor and blend the mixture until coarsely blended, but I don’t have one.
So I like to mix the butter with the flour using my hands.
If you do this, run your hands under cold water first to keep your body heat from melting the butter.
Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time. You may not need it all. Only incorporate as much as you need to to get the dough to stick together when pressed between the thumb and forefinger. Do not overmix. Just blend until it sticks together.
Place pie dough in refrigerator to “rest” for at least 30 minutes.
Remove dough from refrigerator and divide. I divided it into 3rds and got fairly large hand pies, but for smaller ones, you can divide it into 4 or 6. Bear in mind that the smaller the pies are, the larger the dough-to-filling ratio will be.
Roll out dough and cut into circles using an upside down saucer or large coffee cup.
If the dough begins to stick to your rolling pin (or in my case, a re-purposed wine bottle) stop, refrigerate and start again when the dough is cold.
Place the rolled, cut dough back in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes (I know, it’s a lot of in-and-out, but trust me, this is what makes a flaky pie crust).
In a medium saucepan over low-medium to medium heat, heat butter until it bubbles slightly. Add brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Then add apples. Cook until slightly soft. They will finish cooking in the oven, so don’t overdo it!
Allow apple mixture to cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pull dough from refrigerator. Spoon the apple filling onto the circles of dough, then fold over. The more apple filling you can squeeze in, the better, but if you put to much in, it leaks out during the cooking process. Strike a balance.
Press the edges of the pies together with the back of a fork to create ruffled edges. Cut a cross in the top of the pie with a pearing knife to vent.
Mix eggs and milk. Brush pies with the egg wash, then sprinkle with sea salt and sugar.
Pop those bad boys in the oven!
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on the edges.
Serve with vanilla ice-cream and cider! Yum!