I promised some posts related to all those apples we picked, and what better place to start than apple pie?
Making a pie from scratch can be a daunting prospect, but I promise you it’s not that hard! I received a great cookbook when I was a teenager called “Clueless in the Kitchen” by Evelyn Raab. Although it caters to teenagers, I still use the pie crust recipe from this book, as it’s simple, straightforward, and good! I know it looks involved, but that’s only because I wanted to include as much detail as possible for the novice pie bakers out there.
Image from: http://aprilreign.breadnroses.ca (because I forgot to take a picture of mine…)
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
2/3 of a cup of solid vegetable shortening (not butter or margarine)
1 teaspoon of vinegar
Measure the flour and sugar into a bowl, and mix it together.
Cut your shortening up into chunks (a couple of inches square is fine) and toss it into the bowl with the flour and sugar. Hint: the measurements for your shortening should be written on the side of the package, so you shouldn’t need to struggle with a measuring cup to measure out 2/3 of a cup.
Now, if you’ve never made a pie before, chances are you don’t have a pastry blender, so you can use 2 butter knives for this next step instead. Holding one knife in each hand, chop the shortening into the flour mixture until the whole thing looks nice and crumbly (like raw oatmeal or breadcrumbs). Make sure any large chunks of shortening have been chopped up. You want this to be crumbly when you’re done, not smooth like cookie batter.
Crack the egg into a measuring cup, add the vinegar, and scramble it up. Add enough cold water on top of this mixture to bring it up to ‘a scant’ (which means slightly less than) 1/2 cup. In plain English, this means that your egg, vinegar, and water all combined should equal just slightly less than 1/2 a cup.
Pour this liquid into the flour mixture, and mix it up with a spoon until the dough can be formed into a ball. Don’t overdo it. If after much stirring the dough seems too dry and is crumbling or falling apart, add a TINY bit of cold water and try again. It’s easy to add more water, but impossible to take it away, so only add more water in very small amounts. The finished product should look fairly smooth and hold together well, but shouldn’t be particularly sticky.
Once you’ve successfully made a not-too-sticky, not-too-crumbly ball of dough, cut the dough in half, squish each half into a flattish round, wrap it in saran wrap or aluminum foil, and stick them in the fridge for at least an hour.
Now for the next step, the actual pie:
4 cups of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tablespoons of plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup to 1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
When your pastry dough has about 15 minutes left in the fridge, start preparing your apples. Peel, core, and slice the apples until you’ve got about 4 cups worth sliced.
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Roll out one ball of pastry dough on a well-floured surface, into a circle that is roughly one inch larger all around than the pie pan you’ll be using. So if your pie pan is 9 inches, your dough should be roughly 11 inches across. Don’t worry if the edges look rough, they’ll be cut off anyway. You’ll probably want to put some flour on your rolling pin too.
Carefully fold the rolled dough in half, and lift it gently into the pie pan. There will be a bit of dough hanging over the edges, carefully cut this off with a sharp knife.
If disaster strikes and your pie crust falls apart, carefully fit the pieces back together in the pie pan, and press the seams back together with clean fingers. Nobody will be able to tell once it’s done.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs into the bottom of the pie crust.
In a large bowl, mix together the apple slices with the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Dump the fruit into the crust, piling it up a bit higher in the middle.
Roll the rest of the pastry dough out, still on a well-floured surface, into a circle roughly the same size as your first one.
Fold it in half, and lift it carefully onto the top of the pie. Unfold and let the edges hang over the sides.
If there is more than 1/2 an inch hanging off the sides, cut it off with a sharp knife.
Now, gently tuck the edges of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust to seal the pie. You can then use your fingers to pinch all the way around the end of the pie to give it a frilly look.
Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top of the pie to let steam out while it’s cooking.
Bake at 425F for 45-50 minutes, or until the pie is golden and the fruit is bubbling.
You did it!