I track the passage of summer through the things that make me happy at the farmers' market. First come strawberries, then garlic scapes, then tomatoes, then cherries and corn, and I celebrate them all initially with an idiotic little song-and-dance routine, and then with cakes and pestos and sandwiches and pies.
And finally come the apples and pears. I know they should make me sad since they're the harbingers of the end of market season and the onset of winter, but instead they make me happiest of all. Because their presence means that I will soon be eating apple and pear pie and waffles and oatmeal and, best of all, apple-cider doughnuts.
The best apple pie recipe I've ever tried is the one Paula Haney uses at Hoosier Mama Pie Company and has included in her cookbook. It's somewhat more involved than most apple pie recipes, but it's worth it and overall not a bad way to spend a Saturday, especially if the weather is lousy. Haney's pear and Dutch apple pies are equally good. (You can buy them at Hoosier Mama too, but if you make pie at home, you can have as much as you want.)
For the past few years, I have been using an apple-cider doughnut recipe I got from Bon Appetit, but this year I will use the one Kevin Pang posted in the A.V. Club's Takeout last fall, mostly because Pang swears the product approximates the apple-cider doughnut from the Long Grove Apple Haus, may it rest in peace.
I've been considering some theories about why I like apple- and pear-based fall pastries so much. The anthropological: a primal desire for warming spices once the air gets chilly. The psychological: they remind me of the applesauce my parents fed me when I was a baby and our love for one another was pure. The economic: the scarcity of apple-cider doughnuts during the rest of the year drives up the demand. And, finally, the obvious: butter and sugar and cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg all taste wonderful together, especially with apples and pears. v