Saturday, April 5, 2008

All-American, All Delicious Apple Pie!!

Guess what!? I made an apple pie today. I haven't made an apple pie from scratch or any other way (except by taking it out of the freezer and putting it in my oven) since about 1992. Back then, I decided to try my hand at making an apple pie. It came out pretty well but after I looked at the kitchen and contemplated how much work went into making that pie I decided that I could just go ahead and buy my pie from a bakery (Oh naive me, if only there was a bakery in this neck of the woods that sold a decent apple pie). I haven't eaten much apple pie since 1992 because most of the pies we have available here are from grocery stores (yuck). We did have a bakery in a small town not far from here. My mom bought an apple pie or two from that bakery. Unfortunately, the apples in the pie were practically raw. I don't know about you, but I really don't like to take a bite of apple pie and hear a "crunch." So, I just did without apple pie.

Last night, I was lying in bed thinking about what to make for this blog. I couldn't say I was inspired by anything. Then suddenly, I remembered I had a bag of organic apples in my fridge. Yeah, I could use up those apples in something. This morning I asked my son whether he would like apple turnovers or apple pie. He chose the pie. That is how I came to decide on making an apple pie. Yes, apple pie. I know it's spring not fall but apple pie goes great with spring and summer meals. I think apple pie is the perfect dessert for any season.

The pie that I made is from the cookbook "Baking from My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan." I just bought this cookbook and have been reading through it. The recipes look to die for! I have been thinking about joining TWD (Tuesdays With Dorie) but I haven't done it yet. I hope that I haven't ruined my chances of becoming part of that group by pre-making one of her recipes! Oh well, we'll see. In case you don't know anything about Dorie Greenspan (which I didn't until I started reading TWD), she is the author of the best-selling cookbook "Baking With Julia" -- Julia Child that is. Dorie has also written books with Pierre Herme. Dorie is awesome!

So far, the apple pie looks great. It is baking in the oven right now. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it might be to make this pie. I think that Dorie's idea about using the food processor to make the pie dough really cuts the time down. I have to admit that I already made one mistake with the pie that I know of. Instead of putting the graham crackers on the bottom of the pie dish, I mixed them in with the apples. I also put two tablespoons on top of the bottom pie crust. You'll understand what I'm talking about after you read the recipe. By the way, Dorie also has a website called In the Kitchen and on the Road with Dorie Greenspan. I am not going to type out Dorie's recipe for the Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough. If you want that, you can find it here.

I just took the pie out of the oven and it is taking all my strenth not to cut right into it. It smells heavenly in here. And, if I do say so myself, the pie looks perfectly yummy. I can't wait to have a slice with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk tomorrow.

All-American, All Delicious Apple Pie

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough for a double crust (page 442) chilled
4 pounds (about 6 very large apples)
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used lemon juice)
2 tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used 1/4 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or dry breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

FOR THE GLAZE (Optional):

Milk or heavy cream
Decorating (course) or granulated sugar

Getting Ready: Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate (Dorie uses a Pyrex plate). If you want to use a standard 9-inch pie plate, just reduce the amount of filling by about one quarter. (I used a regular 9-inch pie plate and cut down the amount of apples to 3 pounds).

Working on a well floured surface (or between wax paper or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Fit the dough into a buttered pie plate and trim the edges to about a 1/2 inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a 1/8 inch thick circle and slip it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Cover both the circle and the crust in the pie plate with platic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, while you preheat the oven and prepare the filling. (If it's more convenient, the crusts can be well covered and kept refrigerated overnight).

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, core and slice the apples. You've got a choice for slicing: you can cut each apple in half and then slice each half crosswise or lengthwise into slices about 1/4 inch thick, or you can cut the apples into chunks about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on a side. In either case, put the apples into a large bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest, tapioca, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss everything together really well -- I do this with my hands. If you've got a little time, let the mix sit for about 5 minutes, until the juice starts to accumulate in the bottom of the bowl.

Remove the pie plate and top crust from the refrigerator and put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the crust --this will help keep it from getting too soggy (some sog is inevitable)--and then turn the apples and their juices into the crust. The apples will heap over the top of the crust. Pat them into an even mound. Dot the apples with bits of cold butter.

Very lightly moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water, then center the top crust over the apples. (If the crusts -- top and bottom -- are still very cold and in danger of cracking when you work with them, let them sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes.) Either fold the overhang from the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp the crust attractively, or press the top crust against the bottom crust and trim the overhang from both crusts even with the rim of the pie plate. If you've pressed and trimmed the crust, use the tines of a fork to press the two crusts together securely. (I used the latter method)

Use a sharp knife to cut about 6 slits in the top crust. I always use the wide end of a piping tip to cut a circle out of the center of the crust as a steam vent. If you'd like, brush the top of the crust with a little milk or cream and sprinkle it with sugar. (I did both of these)

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the pie for another 50 to 60 minutes (total baking time is between 65 and 75 minutes), or until the crust is gorgeously browned and the juices bubble up through the top crust. After about 40 minutes in the oven, if the top crust looks as if it's browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with a foil tent.

Transfer the pie to a rack and let it rest until it is only just warm or until it reaches room temperature. Then enjoy!!
The Creative Cook