As my previous post may have led you to believe,
a tornado hit my house I had a little cleaning up to do today. Sure, the kids should have helped in the undoing of the results of their early-morning mayhem, but I figured I could do it faster myself. So The Chief packed up the three youngest and hit the road, leaving me to whisk through the house and accomplish untold miracles (OK, the sheets were changed, the downstairs was straightened and vacuumed and all the toys were put away. And a serious dent was made in the laundry. Miraculous enough, if you ask me!)
One must reward a man like this. He'd be way too popular on the open market! :)
So Pie School is officially back in session!
I went with a French Apple Pie, in honor of our Patron Saint of the Month, St. Vincent de Paul. His feast was actually yesterday, but our plans were set aside in order to spend the day with family commending the soul of my dad's dear sister.
(It actually was a wonderful day. It's amazing how that works -- sadness and loss are what bring you together, but there is great joy and comfort in the gathering. I wish I could remember that before the wake and funeral, though. I never want to go, but I'm always so glad I did.)
So, anyway, I'm all about pinch-hitting. (It's actually way better than overplanning and the exhaustion that follows! But I digress.)
I asked The Chief to pick up some apples for me -- I prefer a sweeter apple for pie, like a Crispin, but instead, on the advice of the apple grower, he came home with 20 ouncers -- a new one to me.
My face must have surely betrayed my doubt.
"It's OK, they're made for cooking, " said Step 2, who works for the apple grower. "They taste like bark," she added helpfully.
I made two pies, one without sugar for me, using crispins, and the 20 oz. pie with plenty of sugar. (Bark, I'm certain, tastes better that way.)
Here's my recipe:
Crust (I made enough for a double crust pie, then split it between the two):
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 2/3 c white shortening
- 6-7 T ice cold water
Mix the salt into the flour; cut in the shortening. Sprinkle on the water, 1 T at a time, mixing in gently with a fork. Handle as little as possible; that's my mom's secret. Pat the whole flaky mess into a ball (or, two balls in this case), gently shaping it into a roundish mound. Roll out once, and once only, to a circle about 1" wider in diameter than the outside edge of the pie plate. Mend any tears with a dab of ice water. Place carefully in the pie plate, and shape the edges (I just used a fork).
- 7-8 c 20 oz. apples, peeled and sliced thinly (I used 5 apples about the size of my whole hand)
- 1/4 c white sugar
- 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 t nutmeg
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- dash ground cloves
- 1 t freshly grated lemon rind
- 1 T flour
Mix all the ingredients except the apples in a small bowl. Place a layer of apples in the prepared crust, then sprinkle with a generous scoop of the sugar mixture. Repeat until all the apples and sugar are used up, ending with sugar.
French Crumb Topping:
- 1/3 c. butter
- 1/3 c. light brown sugar
- 3/4 c. flour
- 1/2 c. finely ground pecans
Mix together in a small bowl, incorporating the butter with a pastry blender or fingers. Crumble evenly over the top of the pie.
Cover loosely with foil (tent-style), and bake for about 25 minutes at 375 degrees F. Then remove foil and continue baking another 25 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.
Let stand for about 20-30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired (oh, yes we did). Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
And the verdict?
I tried to shield the crumb topping from burning, using a piece of foil, but it still burned a little. I took off some of the more offendingly darkened crumbles, and the pie looked better. (The Chief ate the burned ones, gladly. He's so good to me! But I'd rather feed him something nicer...gotta watch out for those open-market girls out there!) :)
I was surprised at what appeared to be a lack of juice from these apples, when the pie first came out of the oven. I'm a big fan of thick, buttery, spice-infused, drippy, apple-juicy goodness, but I feared that maybe these apples were singularly devoid of that possibility. (You know, kind of like ... bark.)
But not so! The apples held up extremely well, and the filling was perfect! The touch of lemon zest -- not something I normally add to apple pie -- was delightful, and infused the crust. I'd be tempted to go ahead and add zest to the pie crust itself, it was so good!
The crust turned out great; flaky and light. I think it could've used just a touch more salt. But the texture was great, and even with the juicy filling, it was not at all soggy.
I'm no "fluter" though. There is an artistry there (and a certain lack of coordination here) that seems unattainable to me. Thank goodness for forks.
But I'm gettin' there, Ma! You better start making your amazing pie crusts again, or there'll be talk!! :)