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It happens every year. At the first hint of crunchy leaves and dropping temperatures, we clamber for fall. After four months of sweating through North Carolina summer, we’re ready to put away our tank tops and pool toys to embrace cooler temperatures and shorter days, even when they haven’t quite arrived yet.

One of our favorite early signs of fall is when western NC apples begin to appear at the market in September. This year, we couldn’t wait to crack open our copy of Candler author Ashley English’s cookbook A YEAR OF PIES. It’s a special cookbook because it encourages baking with the seasons, when each item of produce is at its unique peak. And of course, in September, it’s time for apple pie.

We decided to make Ashley’s spin on the classic — Chai Spice Apple Pie — using some of our favorite new North Carolina-made products from the Our State Store.

We rolled out pie dough with our FRENCH-STYLE ROLLING PIN, hand-turned by Goldsplinter Woodworking Studio in Asheville with a tapered shape perfect for controlling tricky dough. We peeled and chopped perfect North Carolina apples, mixed spices, and poured it all into our STONEWARE PIE DISH, handmade by Beckett Pottery in Pfafftown.

After pulling the bubbling pie from the oven, we brought its lacquered crust and unique aroma to the Our State break room, where this unusually spiced pie was quickly devoured.

Chai Spice Apple Pie Recipe
by Ashley English

2 rounds prepared pie dough
1 tsp ground cardamom 
1/2 tsp black tea 
1/4 tsp whole cloves 
1/4 tsp black peppercorns 
1/4 tsp fennel seeds 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground ginger 
3 lbs apples (Ashley recommends Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, Stayman or Honeycrisp), peeled, cored, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices 
4 tbsp all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup granulated sugar (increase a bit if you'd like a sweeter filling) 
2 tbsp lemon juice 
1/2 tsp salt 
2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced 
1 large egg yolk 
1 tbsp whole milk or water 
1 tbsp turbinado or other coarse sugar 
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Roll out one round of pie dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch, then place the crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Using either a mortar and pestle or a spice or coffee grinder, grind the black tea, whole cloves, peppercorns, and fennel seeds to a powder.

Pour the ground spices into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl. Gently shake the sieve so all but the larger pieces fall through. Discard the larger pieces left in the sieve.

To the freshly ground spices in the bowl, add the ground cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Whisk well to combine.

Combine all of the filling ingredients, including the chai spice blend, in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using either clean hands or a large spoon, toss until all of the ingredients are fully combined and the apple slices are evenly coated.

Pour the apple mixture into the prepared crust, mounding in the center. Dot the surface with the diced butter.

Roll the remaining dough round into a 12-inch circle. Roll the top crust loosely over your rolling pin and unroll it over the filling in the pie pan, making sure it's centered. Trim the top crust overhang to 1 inch and tuck the edges under the bottom crust overhang. Crimp the edges decoratively.

Whisk the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to brush the wash over the crust.

Place the pie in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the coarse sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the pie.

Place the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil to catch overflow juices and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the crust is golden and juices are bubbling in the center of the pie.

Cool at least one hour before serving.