13 September 2010

Homemade Apple Pie

I'm from the northeast, and right now it's the perfect weather for apple pie, warm spiced apple cider, and caramel apples. When I was a kid, our family used to go apple picking as soon as humanly possible so that my mom could then transform our bounty into these delicacies...particularly apple pie. My mom is known for her pies. Every Thanksgiving she makes at least five different varieties (and at least one cheesecake), and one of them is always apple.

Now I live in the south...it is not apple pie weather here. Does that stop me from making one anyway? NEVER! So I dragged my husband out to Reid's Orchard, bought a half peck of Empire apples and a gallon of cider, and stopped by the grocery on the way home to replenish my butter stash...cause I was makin' a pie!

There are three phases to pie making. The first is to make the crust dough and chill it, the second is to prepare the filling, and the third is to bake. I should probably add a fourth phase to that...consume with reckless abandon...since that is what usually happens after the bake phase.

On to the first phase, the crust.

I found my pie crust recipe via The New Homemaker, and adjusted a few things based on my understanding of pie crust and some trial and error. The original recipe calls for more water, but for some reason I always end up with a very wet dough when I add the amount suggested, so I've cut it back here. If your dough seems too dry, add more water.

Double Pie Crust

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup shortening
4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

1. Cut the fat into small pieces and add to the measured flour. Cut the fat quickly into the flour using a pastry blender or pulse in a food processor. The mixture should resemble coarse meal, with pea-sized lumps of fat (bigger lumps are OK, too). Try not to over mix as the butter will start to soften and you want it to remain cold.

2. Slowly add the water a tablespoon at a time. The mixture should still look fairly dry. When you squeeze a portion of it in your hand, it should hold together. If not, add more water.

3. Divide the dough in half and place each piece in plasti-crap. With the plasti-crap, form the dough into a flat disk. Refrigerate for an hour or more.

4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and place on a floured counter top or a piece of wax paper. Roll out from the center until it is large enough to fit your pie pan (I use Pyrex). Gently fold the disk in half and place in your pie plate. Repair any splits by pinching together or use spare dough to fix any cracks.

5. Roll out the top crust the same way and follow the instructions for your particular pie.

Now it's time for the filling!

Apple Pie

6-8 Jonathan, Macoun, Rome Beauty or Empire apples (apples should form a mound above the pie dish), peeled, cored and sliced.
1/2-3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (you can use preground, but freshly ground is SO much better!)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line pie plate with 1/2 the dough (we already did that, so we proceed onward).

2. Mix sugars, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and flour in a large bowl. Toss sliced apples in sugar mixture. Pile them into the lined plate and dot with the butter.

3. Wet the top edge of the dough with warm water. Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie. Crimp the edges and cut several vents in the top.

4. Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 50-55 minutes more until the apples are tender and the crust is browned.


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