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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Apple Pie

I don’t think I’ve ever followed a written recipe to make apple pie. The ingredients are simple and for the most part depends on individual taste.

One thing is for sure, once you've tasted a home made apple pie nothing else will measure up.

Some like their apple pie bursting with apples while others prefer a minimal amount of filling. Some like it sweet; some like it on the tart side and the texture of the filling either mushy or chunky is all a matter of preference.

One thing we may all agree on is that this pie requires a perfect crust. Light, flaky and golden are the right adjectives that come to mind.

I use to be so meticulous in crimping the edges of the pie crust to perfection but in the last few years have come to appreciate a more rustic look in the finishing touches.

A combination of apples like Granny Smith and Macintosh makes a perfect filling that pleases most. The Macintosh breaks down in baking while the Granny Smith retains a more firm texture. Together, I believe they make a perfect combination in a pie.

I’ve made more apple pies than I care to count; it has always been a family favourite. A scoop of Simply Vanilla Ice Cream crowns this dessert like nothing else, except for using fresh harvest apples of course!

Apple Pie

6 Macintosh apples
3 Granny Smith apples
(depending on size of apples use more or less as required)
1/3 to ½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons corn starch
  1. In a small bowl blend sugar, cinnamon and corn starch, set aside
  2. Peel, core and slice apples (about ½ inch thickness, thicker for chunkier texture)
  3. Place apples into a bowl and add sugar mixture, toss until well coated.
  4. Roll out bottom pastry dough large enough to hang about 2 inches over sides of pan.
  5. Place the apples into the bottom crust.
  6. Roll out top dough just large enough to cover the apples and place on top.
  7. Brush water all over top crust then bring bottom crust over top crust making necessary folds in the dough to seal the apples in.
  8. Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar over top of pie.
  9. Flute by making several cuts on top pie crust to allow steam to escape
  10. Bake in a preheated 375degree oven until golden brown.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • I was taught to make the top pastry larger, tuck it under the bottom pastry then crimp the edges. Instead, placing the larger crust on the bottom and folding it over the top crust not only gives you a great rustic look but also helps prevent the juices from escaping and making a mess in your oven.
  • To ensure a golden bottom crust, place pie on the lower rack for about 20 minutes at the beginning of baking. Then place on middle rack until top is golden.
  • Dark metal and glass pans give you a golden bottom crust. Aluminum pans reflect the heat and less browning occurs.
  • Instead of brushing water over top crust, milk or lemon-lime soda works well.
  • If edges of pie are browning too quickly a strip of aluminum foil wrapped around the edges helps prevent burning.
Pie Crust

1 ½ cups all- purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable shortening
5 tablespoons ice cold water
  1. Place flour into a bowl and add salt.
  2. Add vegetable shortening and blend in with pastry blender until shortening becomes the size of small peas.
  3. Add water one tablespoon at a time mixing it in with a fork before adding the next tablespoon.
  4. Flatten the mixture with the palm of your hand until it begins sticking together then fold the mixture in half, flatten with hand again and repeat the folding over and flattening until it forms a dough ((fold over 4 to 5 times.)
  5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth.
  6. Cut into 2 pieces making one piece a little larger for the bottom crust.
  7. Shape each piece of dough into a round ball then flatten with hand.
  8. With a lightly floured or stockinet covered rolling pin, begin at the center of the dough and roll outward, make a quarter turn with the dough and repeat rolling from the center until it is large enough to cover and hang over pie plate by 2 inches.
  9. Roll remaining dough in the same manner until large enough to cover the filling.

Notes, Tips and Suggestions

  • Folding over of the dough is the same process used when making puff pastry. The shortening becomes layers between the flour and makes for a flaky texture.
  • Make sure to use ice-cold water, this will keep the shortening cold, again resulting in a flaky crust.
  • If you plan to make a pie within a few days, make and roll out the dough required and refrigerate up to 3 days. Filling and baking is all you have left to do. The dough will be very cold making it perfect for a great crust.
  • For easy transferring of crust to pie plate, fold rolled dough half way over the rolling pin then transfer to pie plate and unfold.
Blending In

Unless you are using a food processor to make your dough the pastry blender is a must have tool.
It successfully blends the shortening into the flour uniformly and very quickly.

Pastry Apparel

Using a lightly floured pastry cloth makes rolling out the dough really easy with no extra addition of flour that can result in tough dough. No fear of sticking when using this cloth.
The stockinet over the rolling pin serves the same purpose, less flour used and a no stick performance.
Should you not have these tools on hand, rolling the dough between 2 lightly floured sheets of wax paper is the next best thing.

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