Homemade Apple Pie - How to Make Apple Pie
When I was five my grandmother taught me how to make apple pie. My grandparents had an apple orchard in their back yard, and I remember her being able to do more with apples than Johnny Appleseed.
I also remember not wanting to take the time to find the missing pie pan when I decided to do one all by myself. I used a loaf pan. And no sugar. And probably most of the cinnamon in East Tennessee. And bless his heart - my grandfather ate the whole thing. Could have been the encouragement that set me on another thirty five years of experimenting in the kitchen.
I've gotten much better since then. I love to do apple pies with paper thin slices, and decorative crusts - they can be absolutely beautiful. However, since a pie lasts about 4.2 seconds at my house, most of the time this is the one I crank out. Call it rustic - meaning nothing fancy - the kind of thing any country cook would have been able to whip out. (Rustic is another way to say it might have been a little messy in presentation). The point with this pie is to produce a big slice of something delicious - and solid enough to stand up to ice cream - or cheddar if that's your thing. Just make sure it's really good ice cream, or good sharp cheddar cheese.This is the pie you can happily give your loved ones on a regular weekday night - or on a relaxed weekend. Try it after Southern Chicken and Dumplings. Oh my - yes. Do that.
A word on cooking apples...
I can tell you to use particular apples, but frankly you can never be entirely sure what you'll find in your local market. My personal favorite for this pie is the Macintosh, which is firm enough to stand up to the cooking without going mushy, but sweeter than the Granny Smith apple. My second is Jonagold. In this case, no Macintosh apples were available, nor were Jonagold apples, so I went with the old standard.
This particular group of apples were both tarter and juicier than most. That happens. Unless you're prepared to measure the moisture content of your apples and adjust your recipe accordingly (I'm not), then sometimes you'll have a 'soupier' filling than others. No big deal.
What makes the filling 'gel' or hold together depends on two things. How juicy your fruit is, and how much flour you use. The flour comes to a boil so to speak while the pie is baking, and while the pie is cooling develops its holding power. You can see in the top picture that this pie not only was cut while still warm (which means the flour hadn't fully done it's job of pulling the filling together), but that the filling itself was somewhat loose. It doesn't affect the taste at all, and personally I have no problem with it. It's still sweet appely goodness. So I can tell you how to bake a pie, but some of it depends on you watching your fruit while you're putting the pie together, and tweaking it accordingly. Of course - that's also the backbone of good cooking.
If it bugs you - try this. Once you've tossed your apples with the sugars and spices, give them just a few minutes to sit. A maceration process will happen - that just means the fruit will begin to loose juices in the presence of sugar. If you have a lot of juices that collect in this process, you'll want to add more flour, since your apples are probably juicier than normal. In this case I could have tossed in another 1/4 cup of flour. Just make sure the filling bubbles completely, or your filling will taste pasty - like kindergarten glue. I think this juicy stuff is one of the nice things about pie - it's almost the sauce the graces the ice cream. So it's your preference. But I do it my way. :-)
We're making a 'rustic' pie - right? So relax and have fun with this one. First - you'll need either store bought pie crust for a two crust pie, or two All Butter Pie Crusts. Now - don't be afraid of homemade pie crust. Once you've done a couple, you'll be a pro. Chill and give it a try.
You'll also need:
- 6 medium cooking apples, Granny Smith or Macintosh are my favorites
- 2 Tbl lemon juice
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 Tbl all purpose flour
- 2 Tbl butter
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 egg white, beaten
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Peel and core the apples - cutting each one into eighths. This gives nice fat slices of apple. You can cut them thinner if you like, but that's getting fussier than I usually do.
- As you're cutting the apples, keep them in a large mixing bowl with a little lemon juice in the bottom. For why, see Acids in the Kitchen. Toss them just so all surface get a touch of the lemon juice.
- Toss in the sugars and cinnamon. Sprinkle surface of the apples with the pinch of salt and the flour. Toss the whole thing gently - you want it well combined but don't want to bruise the apples. If there's a small lump or two - nobody cares. It'll go away in the oven.
- Roll out the bottom crust and put it in the bottom of a nine inch pie plate. Layer the apples on top of the crust, working them in spirals to get as little 'blank' space as possible. If there are juices in the bottom of your mixing bowl, just pour those on top. Top the apples with the butter, broken into little pieces.
- Roll out and top the pie with the second crust. Crimp and pinch the edges, trimming the excess. Prick the top with a fork. Granny said it should look like a little bird hopped on it. Isn't that cute?
- Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg white, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
- Bake for about an hour - or until the pie is bubbly and gorgeously browned.
- Allow the pie to cool for at least a couple of hours before serving - so the inside will set. If you don't the apples will still be runny, and will end up all over the plate. Frankly, that's not always a bad thing - but the pie you don't eat will end up being an empty crust next to a lake of apple stuff.
If you want a dressier pie, slice the apples one more time - sixteen
slices per apple. Use a fork or decorative cutters to crimp the edges,
and brush with cream, and sprinkle with a scant tablespoon of sanding
sugar. But if you want just a big fat slice o'pie - one that leaks a
little juicy goodness onto the plate to mingle with the ice cream, try it this way!
More Great Foodie Info!
- The Thrillbilly Gourmet
Combining classic technique with everyday food for spectacular results!
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