Apple Pie

I told my kids I was going to make you something with apples to celebrate this Pumpkin Festival week, because pumpkins are for carving and apples are for eating, at least among the younger set here.  I was thinking maybe a raw apple lunchbox cake or a sugary upside down apple pancake.  Both are delicious and common at our table, but both, my children emphatically insist, are equally poor choices.   How could I give you apples, especially in celebration of  Pumpkin Festival, and not give you Apple Pie?

And so, while I have reservations about how many of you will make this recipe (which seems overly long, now that it is all typed up), I have to share.  Apple Pie is quintessential Fall at our house.  It is dessert, and snack and especially BREAKFAST, so much better than any morning pastry or muffin.  There are no tricks here, no caramel, or cheddar, or crumbly topping.  There is only a simple flaky crust, which you can totally sub with the refrigerated variety if you find it daunting, and lots and lots and lots of fruit.  In fact, my family is so in love with the fruit filling in this pie that they find the syrupy filling in most restaurant pies almost sacrilegious.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A mix of baking apples, enough for 10 cups
1/3 – 2/3 C. sugar, depending on the tartness of the apples
¼ C. flour
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Butter, for dotting
Pastry for a 2 Crust Pie.

You will notice that I tell you to use a mixture of baking apples.  There are a wide variety of apples, which have a wide variety of tastes and textures.  By mixing it up, you get a depth of flavor that you just can’t achieve using one kind of apple.  For this pie, I used Jonathon and Golden Delicious, tart and sweet.  If you want to mix it up even more, check out this apple chart from the Ohio Apples Growers Association, which gives you all sorts of guidelines and suggestions.

Whatever apples you choose, peel, core, and slice thinly.

Sprinkle with sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  I give you measurements above, but adjust according to your tastes.  Toss so that all of the apples are well coated.

Get pastry ready.  If you decide to make your own, here’s the recipe I use, adapted slightly from the 1970’s version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook:

1 C. plus 2 T. shortening (I use ½ regular and ½ butter flavored shortening, but I’m not sure Betty would approve)
2 C. plus 2/3 C. flour
6-7 T. ice water
a little granulated sugar for the top

The key with pastry dough (as with kids, ha!) is to be gentle and to know when to back off.  Don’t over handle or your dough will be tough.  And if you forget or fail miserably, your pie may not look perfect, but it will taste pretty delicious.

So… preheat your oven to 350.  Put the flour into a nice sturdy bowl.  Measure the shortening on top.  Cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Next, fill a glass with ice water.  Sprinkle the water onto the dough one tablespoon at a time.  Toss the dough with two forks in between sprinkles.  The dough should start to hold together.  You know you’ve added enough water when the flour is moistened and the pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl.  The dough should not be wet.

Gather the pastry into two equal sized balls and shape into flattened rounds.  Put one round on a flour covered board or pastry cloth.  I always put a dishtowel under my cutting board, to keep it from sliding around.

Roll out the dough into a circle about 2 inches larger than your upside down pie pan.  Remember to be gentle.  I usually flip the dough once and re-flour my board when I’m about half-way rolled out.  People might tell you that too much flour makes for tough pastry dough, but I don’t worry about it.

Once the dough is rolled out, gently fold it into fourths.  Lay it into the pie pan and unfold.  Sprinkle the bottom with flour lightly, just to thicken up any extra juice at the bottom.  Spoon the apples into the pie; it will seem overfilled.  Dot it with butter, about 2 Tablespoons.

Roll out the second round of dough using exactly the same technique you used for the bottom.  Place it on top of your filling and unfold.  The top edge should hang slightly over the bottom edge of the pastry.  If any edge seems too long, trim it with your fingers.  Tuck the top under the bottom and flute.  Some people use a fork; I like to pinch the sides into a sort of V shape.  Either way.

Use a sharp knife to slit the top crust maybe 6 or 8 times.  Wet your hand with water and rub it over the crust just to dampen.  Sprinkle it with granulated sugar.

Put the pie on the middle rack of your oven.  Bake it for at least an hour, maybe close to 1:15.  The top of the crust should brown lightly and blister.  The filling should bubble a little.  If you insert a butter knife into the slits, the apples should be tender.

Let the pie cool.  Serve it for dessert if you want to.  ABSOLUTELY serve it for breakfast.  There is nothing better than Apple Pie in the morning.

Enjoy your Apple Pie.  My kids are sure that you’ll love it (and I am hoping you give it a shot).  If, by chance, you don’t have time for baking this weekend, still come get some apples and check out all the Fall Fun at our Pumpkin Festival.  This is family time at our market and we have lots of fun activities for everyone.

See you at the Market or at the Festival!