THIS WEEK:APPLE PIE
Traditional or with a twist, a la mode or straight up, apple pie is a must this weekend.
The reason baker Jamaica Crist’s apple pies are so much better than anything you’ve ever made? Experience and little tricks like using brown sugar in the apple filling in lieu of white. “It gives it more of a caramel-y gooey center,” Crist says. And there’s the combination of shortening and butter for the perfect crust. Best of all, the bakery is open Friday for your last-minute patriotic pie purchases. 11511 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A., (310) 478-1971
AUNTIE EM’S KITCHEN
The traditional apple pie from this funky gourmet sandwich shop and bakery, made with three varieties of apples for just the right sweetness, is delicious. But in its next life, it wants to be the Dutch apple pie. Topped with lots of crumbly, buttery streusel and drizzled with homemade caramel, it has a flavor reminiscent of a caramel apple. 4616 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock, (323) 259-6432
Individual lattice-top apple pies are among the temptations at this 4-month-old bakery. But get over today if you want ‘em for tomorrow -- they’re closed for the holiday. On Sundays, you can also score adorable apple pie cupcakes: vanilla cake with a chunky apple pie “shot” center and a crown of red butter-cream frosting, pretzel stem and green royal icing leaf. 560 W. 19th St. Suite C, Costa Mesa, (949) 548-4700
This year marks the 70th anniversary of this Farmers Market fixture. And they make the classic apple pie just like they did in 1938. To keep the apple filling nice and moist, they add juices during the cooking process. Come in on the 4th for a slice with freshly made whipped cream. Or get a whole pie to go, and maybe an order of baby back ribs as a little pre-dessert nosh. 6333 W. 3rd St., L.A., (323) 933-8446. Locations in Studio City and Woodland Hills; www.du-pars.com
Food snobs might be loath to admit it, but those boxed apple pies from McDonald’s are pretty darn good. Of course, the gourmet version served at this lively, eclectic spot -- a duo of fried apple pies shaped like empanadas, finished with powdered sugar and a hit of caramel and served with a scoop of vanilla gelato -- is better. Way better. 672 S. La Brea Ave., L.A., (323) 934-2110