When it comes to apple pie fillings, some apples perform better than others. I always look for apples that are crisp, sweet-tart and juicy. There are many types of apples that fit this description, though, and I often get asked if you can mix different types of apples together in a pie filling. The short answer to this question is yes, you absolutely can mix together different types of apples in a pie filling. But because not all apples are created equal when it comes to baking, there are some things that you should take into consideration before picking your apples out to get the best results.
Apples all have slightly different textures and actually bake at different rates in the oven. One reason that most pie recipes will suggest cutting apples into equal sized pieces is to ensure that every piece of apple in the filling has about the same texture when the pie is done. Because of this, I recommend sticking with apples that have similar textures – you always want a crisp, firm apple not a mealy one – so that they hold their shape and cook at about the same rate. Softer-textured apples, or apples cut into very small pieces, can actually start to break down in a pie filling, adding a bit of apple sauce to the pie. By the same token, you don’t want to add in one apple that is so crisp that it takes longer to cook than the other apples, leaving you with hard apples in your final pie. As long as the apples you choose have a similar texture at the beginning, and they are cut into even pieces, they will probably cook at about the same rate.
Though you need to take the type of apple into consideration, having a pie filling with a little variety of flavor in it can be a great thing. Granny Smiths are always a popular pie apple, but tend to be on the tart side. By blending them with a sweeter apple, such as a honeycrisp or jonagold (for instance), you will increase the overall sweetness of your filling without having to add a lot more sugar. The pie will taste a little more unique than a store-bought pie because it will be slightly less uniform, but the fact that it tastes a bit different from bite-to-bite just means you’ll have to take a few extra bites to get the full – and delicious! – impact of that pie.
Don’t forget the ice cream, because a scoop of vanilla ice cream complements any apple pie no matter what type of apples went into it!