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Will Blog for Pie

September 18, 2007

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Fruits and Veggies post that I might make an apple pie if the mood struck. Well, one mention to Mr. D that I was remotely contemplating even the idea of apple pie and there was no way around it. The whole weekend went a little something like this:

Mr D: So, when are you going to make that apple pie?

Me: Um, I dunno.

Mr. D: Hey honey, didn’t you say something about pie, because I’m pretty sure you said something about pie but I don’t see a pie.

Me: D, I’ll get to it later, okay.

Mr. D: When you make that pie is there going to be enough for my mom ’cause i told her you were going to make one and she was, like, really excited and hey, when’s that pie going to be ready?

Me: Gaw!

Domestic goddess and sheer genius that I am, not only did I make that damn pie, I went totally recipe free. I’ve been watching the women folk of my family make pies my entire life, especially apple pie. Once you get the basics down it’s a piece of cake…or pie as the case may be.

Now, one would figure that apples would be the first thing to think about when thinking about making an apple pie. One would be just plain wrong.  Crust is the first step to a successful apple pie (or any pie for that matter). I’d hate to get all my fillings together to only find that I forgot to defrost the crust.

Okay, okay, calm down. I hear the collective racket out there and I stand firm. I don’t make own crust and neither did my mother!! I swear by Pillsbury refrigerated dough. Make sure to bring it to room temperature, put it in your vessel, pie plate or whathaveyou, and then chill it in the fridge. You want the crust to go in the oven cold so the butter will melt and release steam creating those delicious flaky layers.

Think about how many apples you have and that will determine the size of your vessel and how much crust you’ll need.  I only had one pie crust, typically you’d need two, one top and one bottom, for a traditional apple pie.  I used three half-cup ramekins.   I got three bottom crusts for the three ramekins and made strips of dough for a lattice style top all from one pie crust.

So, while the crust is gettin’ cold, it’s time to prep the apples. Most skilled bakers will tell you to use something firm like a granny smith or macintosh. Personally, I don’t discriminate. To me the apples are simply a conduit for spicy sugary goodness. Peel, core and slice your apples and add them to a bowl with some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. If you don’t have lemon juice, a little diluted vinegar will work fine.

Next, add the sugar, I like turbinado, and spices like cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg. To start I’d go with a 1/4 cup of sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon each of the spices for four to six small apples. Now is the time to stir up the apples and give them a taste. If it’s too spicy, add some more sugar or even some honey. Try some fresh ginger or vanilla if you’re feelin’ groovy. At this point you should also add a pinch of salt to bring up all the flavors and a bit of flour to thicken the sauce.

In the time it takes you to pre heat the oven, I typically bake pies at 350`, the sugar will have worked its magic on the fruit leaving you a nice syrup in the bottom on the bowl.

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Once the oven in pre heated, fill your vessel(s), piling the apples as high as they can go as they will cook down. Top with more crust and throw the deliciousness in the oven.

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Oh, and those little creamy white bits poking out of the crust are pieces of butter.  It’s a good idea to put a few cold pieces in just before baking to add flavor and moisture.  At this point, the extra calories won’t matter.  

My mini-pies were in for about 45 minutes. I would go for about 60 on a standard 8 or 9 inch pie plate. I set the timer in 15 minute intervals so I can control the browning, laying foil over top as needed. Once they start to bubble you’re good to go.

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Spicy, sugary, appley, and dee-lish if I do say so myself. And something we all should try, with our without a recipe card.

So go hound your mom, grandmother or uncle for the keys to the food your family loves. Shock the hell out of them at the next holiday meal. These dishes are our memories. We should enjoy the hell out of them while we have the time and the taste buds.

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