Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Simple Family Recipe for Apple Pie

I have been making apple pie since I was about 3 years old, although back then all I did was mix the cinnamon and sugar. Unlike the average person, I do not like pie. However, my dad's favorite dessert is apple pie, so I have been making it for him on special occasions. About 6 months after Cerinthus and I started dating I found out apple pie was his favorite dessert (although this has since been toppled by my mom's angel food cake with strawberries and homemade whipped cream). Today he asked me for the pie recipe so that he could make it for his host family in Florence.

I have never thought of apple pie as requiring a recipe. Although I realize that the crust needs a delicate touch, my family often does not make the crusts from scratch because our homemade crusts tend to be very bland. If anyone has a fabulous crust recipe (preferably one that does not include lard) I would be very grateful if you would comment or email it to me (my dad would be very happy!).

There is a fabulous episode of a lovely British TV series, Pie in the Sky, that involves the problem of the perfect pie crust. I believe that at the end of the show they discover that the best pie crust involves layering two different types of crust (and also massive amounts of lard). However, the series is charming. It is about a principled and mild-mannered semi-retired police officer who runs a runs a restaurant and consults on police cases. I highly recommend it for foodies and people who like light-hearted police drama.

At the moment this is my recipe for apple pie. I apologize for the store-bought crusts:
  • 7-8 apples, preferably pippin, granny smith, or gravenstein (I also once made a great pie with some locally grown organic mutt-apples in Oregon. In general, my family likes tart pies).
  • 1/4-1/2 cup mix of cinnamon and sugar. My suggestion is about just slightly more sugar than cinnamon so that the mixture is a very light brown color, but obviously this mixture should be to taste. I usually use around 1/3 cup of sugar to ensure the pie is not too sweet.
  • 2 pre-made pie crusts
  • 1 tbsp melted butter, to ensure a flaky crust
  1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Core, peel, and slice the apples very thin. This is a great task to do with friends or while watching a movie or a TV show.
  3. Roll out the pie crusts. Ensure they do not get warm. My mother has a wonderful glass hollow rolling pin in which one can place cold water to ensure that the dough stays cold. If you don't have something like this, just make sure that you don't leave them out too long. 
  4. Sprinkle the bottom of your pie pan with flour. Then place one of the two crusts on the bottom, and sprinkle about 1tsp of flour over it and spread it around. This will ensure that your bottom crust does not vanish because it has been liquefied by the hot juices from the apples.
  5. Place apples on top. I usually try to place the apples in circular layers, leaving as little space as possible between apple slices. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix periodically. I usually sprinkle about 1tbsp each time the layers of apple get 3 slices high.
  6. Place the top pie crust over the top and fold the edges of the bottom crust over it. For the aesthetically pleasing pie, use a fork or your hands to make designs in the edge of the crust. If you have any crust left over, you can trim it and make it into letters or designs.
  7. Brush the butter over the top of the crust. Poke holes in the crust with a fork. If you do not do this, your pie may burst.
  8. Put the pie for 15 min into the 400 degree F oven, then turn the oven down to 325 degrees F for the remaining 45 minutes.
  9. Depending on how you like your pie, you can eat it warm or let it cool or even serve with ice cream or custard.
For my dad's birthday my family and I made a pie. I decorated.
Before Baking
After Baking

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