I'm making my apple pie for "friendsgiving" and the apples I usually use (Mutsu) aren't available anymore! Can I use Golden Delicious as a substitute? Or is there a better choice with a similar flavor? Help please!
Golden delicious are classic in apple pie. So are granny Smith for a more tart flavor.
I am all about granny smith.
Since Mutsu is a hybrid between a Golden Delicious & a tarter apple, you might choose another Golden/Sharp hybrid: Jonagold or Gala.
I'm really a fan of mixing apple varieties in pie, since it'll give you more depth of flavor. (Unless we're talking Gravensteins, which I love so much they can star all by themselves.) One of my favorite combinations is: 1/3 ginger gold or Braeburn, 1/3 Jonathan or Jonagold, 1/3 granny smith. I try not to use just straight Golden Delicious because I feel the flavor of the pie ends up a little flat and almost watery. Golden Delicious aren't my favorite baking apple, since their flavor diminishes as it bakes, but varieties that are crosses of Golden Delicious and something else seem to fare better.
Cook's Illustrated recommends granny smith apples for baking in fall and golden delicious for baking the rest of the year, golden delicious keep better and tend to have a better texture later in the year.
I tend toward mixing my apples, some golden delicious, a braeburn or two and some granny smiths. I love winesap apples for pie, but they really don't ship (? or keep?) well, so you don't see them much at the grocery store; if you do see them grab a few.
If you can get Honeycrisps, they're somewhat similar to Mutsus, and hold their shape really well in baking. (At least that's been my experience with the ones here in Northern California.) I also use good, farm fresh and slightly under-ripe Fujis in baking, when I can't get Honeycrisps.. The Fujis grown locally are excellent for pies. Ginger Golds are nice, too, but not this late in the season. (They're perfect in late August.) I love Winesaps, too, but they aren't popular out here, so I no longer use them. ;o)