Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pie in the Sky


There's nothing like a basket (or so) of fresh harvested apples! 

Jack's sister has a great back yard filled with seasonal fruits and flowers.  Among these is a wonderful apple tree and we've been blessed with some of its bounty.

All the way home from our visit, the fruit's aromatics teased my senses.  I envisioned pies, cobblers, cakes, cookies, breads and ciders.....roasts with apples, chops with apples, chicken with apples....stuffings, sauces and relishes - to say the least, I had a lot on my mind!

I wanted to make something to bring to Jack's family Thanksgiving dinner....using the apples would make it even more special.  I asked him what he thought and Jack voted for apple pie.  It was up to me to decide which type of pie, crust and so on.

Some may wonder what I mean.  "Apple pie is apple pie, right?"

Well, yes and no.  There are different types, different ways to make it, different crusts.   For example, maybe instead of just plain old apple I might want to throw in some raisins and walnuts....or maybe pears.   I
Baked Pie
may want to make it with a crumb topping, or lattice, or plain old slit-top pie crust, or even just go crazy and make the crust with cereal.  I may even make a "Cookie Pie,"  which is a pie with a thin "cookie" top crust.  For that matter, maybe make the whole crust like a cookie.....who knows?


As far as the fruit goes, I don't peel the apples before pie-ing them.  But if you have digestive problems perhaps you should peel them.


There are a lot of ways to make an apple pie!  Do I make it in a paper bag?  Do I put plain apples in a pie shell, lattice the top and pour sugared, thickened liquid through the lattice before baking?
The sky's the limit!

I decided to try a few different recipes, after we had plenty of apples!

This first one is a standard double-crust pie.  I'll be doing another pie crust in a couple of days, so watch for it! The pie crust is the most complicated part.  Common rule of thumb is to keep everything cold, cold butter, cold liquids, heck even cold bowl and rolling pin!

PIE CRUST 1
 
Chill butter and liquids before you begin. 
2/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons liquid  (Try using apple juice (or other fruit juice) instead of water)

2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 450 Degrees
Place a cookie sheet in the oven.

Sift flour, salt, cinnamon and cloves into a large bowl. Stir until evenly mixed.   Cut 1/2 of chilled butter into dry ingredients using pastry knife, mezzaluna or two table knives until it reaches a cornmeal state.  Add the remaining butter and continue cutting in until it looks like cornmeal with large bits in it.
Filled Pie ready for oven

Add liquid a little at a time, stirring with a fork, add more liquid until dough, when squeezed in hand, stays together.  Put in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb all the moisture.

Dust a dry, clean surface with flour.  I use a large sheet-cake pan; plenty of working room and no flour mess on the counter.  Some people roll their dough out in between layers of waxed paper.  If you do, just be sure to dust it with flour first! Otherwise it'll stick.

Pie filled, extra crust around edge
Working quickly roll dough to 1/4 "  thick or smaller. While rolling, turn the dough one-quarter turn at a time to keep rolling even.  When you've reached the desired thickness, roll the dough over the pin and unroll it over the top of a pie pan.   Make sure to leave a little overhang of dough around the edges, this will be part of what crimps the pie together.

For filled fruit pies, pierce bottom of crust before filling it.

APPLE PIE FILLING
Mixing the apples, sugars and spices

5-6 apples cored and sliced
Juice of one lemon
1 cup sugar (mixed brown and white)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 Tablespoon butter


Crimping the pie edge
Mix apples with lemon juice, corn starch, sugars, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg until apples are evenly coated.
Fill empty pie shell, dot top with butter .  Cover with top crust.
 Fold the excess bottom crust over the top crust edge then crimp using your fingers or a fork.


Venting the top
Pierce the top with a knife to vent the pie. Place pie on pre-heated cookie sheet in the oven.
Cook for 15 minutes at 450 degrees then lower heat to 350 degrees and cook for 50 minutes longer.
If your oven is slow, rotate the pie once during 350 degree cooking.  Pie will be done when top crust is golden brown.

This is just one recipe.  More to come!
Please feel free to share your pie recipes, thoughts and ideas!
Enjoy!
Cutting into pie