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We Baked Jackson Pollock's Prize-Winning Apple Pie

And entered it into the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts 4th Annual Pie-O-Rama.
All images by Zoé Zissovici

As it turns out, Jackson Pollock was a great cook. At his storied home in East Hampton, he and wife Lee Krasner regularly held dinner parties for friends and art elites alike, the true tales of which now emerge in photographer Robyn Lea's new book, Dinner with Jackson Pollock: Recipes, Art & Nature. From blueberry blintzes to hangover cures, over 50 recipes from the artist and his family are included. But are they worth their salt?

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The Creators Project decided to put Chef Pollock to the test. We sent "Jackson Pollock's Prize-Winning Apple Pie" recipe to our friend and baking expert, Zoé Zissovici, who whipped it up and entered it into the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts 4th Annual Pie-O-Rama. This is how it went:

Text by Zoé Zissovici: Made two pies to be entered into the Trumansburg Conservatory of the Arts' annual pie contest (last year I won, banana cream pie). They take one pie for auction and one for sample- 

Peeled 8 lbs of apples, this is a lot of apples, but they all fit, then Jackson says to stew them in water and spices. I don't believe in using water for anything so I used rum which is what my grandmother taught me. I'm sure Jackson would not object.

Anyway, stewed to just tender and then let them outside to cool. I went then to the egg crust. I needed 5 sticks of butter but my mother had taken up some butter making her obscene 'mile high caramel cream pie.' I found some lard and made up the difference.

Look at that lard, it's really serene. I could just run a knife through lard for hours. Lard makes a crust impossible to handle, but luckily its just a press-in and I threw it in the freezer so that was all fine. I went to get my apples and my cat had killed a bird and put it by the apples. In medieval cookbooks there are recipes for pies baked with live birds inside that should then fly out during dinner. Another time.

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I put in the apples and debated making a lattice crust but I don't really get lattice crusts. Then I baked the pies for ever. Underbaking is a huge problem in American pies. I was at a diner the other day and they gave us a cherry pie that had actually not been baked, because it was from the freezer, but you can see the significance of the oversight.

I was skeptical but this crust was so flaky, like I wanted to crush it for the satisfaction of the flake. And the house smelled amazing. Then it turned out we had missed the drop off deadline for the pie contest, so we had to throw all these hot pies in the car and jet over.

I made a token drizzle on top with a rum and confectioners sugar glaze, also something I learned from my grandmother. It makes apple pie really transcendent. It was probably the campiest thing ever. 

The pie contest is a scene. The pie is not a winner. The competition is pretty extravagant, there are foraged berry pies, sculptural pies in the shape of an octopus specifically, chocolate tarts (do they even count as pie? thats like competing in the Tour de France in a car).

People are intrigued by the history of the pie, but ultimately gravitate toward showier products. It is, however, the general consensus among professionals that this is a pretty good apple pie, and the crust is wildly flaky and salty in a good way.

At the auction the woman whose raspberry keylime pie won first place buys Jackson's apple pie. My mother says "she knows quality." I do too, and I voted for myself. Also the serving suggestion for rum raisin ice cream is spot on. 

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Robyn Lea's Dinner with Jackson Pollock: Recipes, Art & Nature comes out from Assouline on April 1. Pre-order it here.

Zoé Zissovici is the pastry chef at Café Dewitt in Ithaca. Follow her on Instagram: @mymajmaj

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