Sunday, January 08, 2017

Apple Pie, Now With Gadget

I've been baking apple pies for years, since I was a kid in 4-H back in New England.  I find the store-made pies too sweet, too expensive, too processed, or all of the above.   Back then I made my own pie crust, but now I cheat and use the pre-made rolled-up crusts you get at the store.  I'm not as fussy about the crust as I am about the filling!

I start with a good old-fashioned recipe, from my WWII-vintage Joy of Cooking.  I like this edition because it has a lot of older recipes, and also has a section on how to compensate for shortages of ingredients, what substitutions you can make.  Fun to read.  Here's the recipe!

Step one is to peel and cut up your apples into small slices.  Small slices cook more evenly and make a more satisfyingly filled pie, without the air holes and irregularities of using big chunks.  The gadget of choice is a modern version of Grandma's apple peeler, now with a vacuum base instead of having to be clamped onto the counter's edge.  

Take a look, it slices as well as peels and cores-- just quarter the apple and toss into a bowl!    Sprinkle with the requisite quantities of apple pie spices, salt, sugar (I use coconut sugar for more depth of flavor), and cornstarch.  The cornstarch soaks up juices and keeps the pie from being drippy.  I like to use the Penzey's Apple Pie Spice mix, to which I add a pinch of ground fenugreek if I have any around (I didn't tonight).  It gives it a muskiness and some punch. 

Lay out your bottom crust and gently fold it into the pan, so that it meets the bottom and sides without pulling or stretching.  Fill it heaping full with your apple mix, and dot some butter on the top for added yumminess.

 Now you can just put a crust on top and cut slits in it for the steam to get out, but I like to have more fun than that.   I like to cut out shapes with mini cookie cutters.   If you want to do this too, lay your top crust out on a surface, and cut out a number of holes.  Gently press the cutouts onto the crust for further decoration-- you need to do this on a flat surface or it won't work well.

Drape the crust over your pie, and press with your fingers around the edges of the pie plate, leaving depressions as you can see in the photo below.   Once you have sealed the pie edges, cut off the excess crust with a knife, tracing around the pie plate.


Very important tip when baking pies-- use a pizza pan or cookie sheet underneath, so that if the pie drips, it doesn't make black burnt stuff in your oven!  That also helps keep the bottom crust from becoming burnt.  For a regular apple pie, bake for about an hour or until the top crust starts to darken.  I ignore the part in the recipe about starting at 450F and then dialing down to 350F, I just bake for an hour at 350F.


The finished pie, cooling on the stove top.  Tah-dah!

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