Things I Love about Autumn: Pie. Also, Pie. Then there’s Pie.

In an effort to collect some recipes for holiday gifts this year, I hit up Ashley for my Apple Pie recipe.  It appears below, with some revisions secondary to ongoing learning experiences.

Hilary’s Apple Pie: Guard this with your life, okay maybe not really. THE GLUTEN EDITION —

The apples I used were Gold Rush and Winesap.  The gold rush really make it, but the only place I’ve found them is the West Chester farmer’s market.  Winesaps or similar (super tart, super crisp) are a good bet.  Stay away from Granny Smiths.  They’re generic and lame, and get stupid and mushy.

Crust (makes 2 shells, so halve recipe for punkin or open faced pies)

4 ½ C. All purpose flour.  I like King Arthur, but you can use anything.

16 T. of salted butter – put it in the freezer for at least an hour or two before you begin.  Trust me, you will thank me later.

A glass of water, with ice, in the fridge.

Enough granulated sugar to fit in your cupped palm

¼ t. salt

1 T. Cinnamon.

Split the butter in half, and substitute the other 8 T with lard, ideally, leaf lard.  Do not make that face at me.  Just do as I say.

Combine Flour, cinnamon, sugar, and salt in a food processor (or whisk in a bowl).  Pulse/Whisk until fully integrated.

If you want to get serious about pie-baking, I highly recommend purchasing or procuring a Cuisinart food processor.  9 or 11 cups is fine.  Make sure it comes with the plastic pastry blade.

>>Edit<<

Screw that.  Nobody likes cleaning a food processor.  Use your hands to integrate your dry ingredients.  You will be able to feel when it is well-integrated.

If in a FP, move the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Get out a cheese grater/planer.

Shred the frozen butter with a cheese grater or planer into the dry ingredients.  Move quickly.  Do not shred fingers, though.

Once the butter is shredded into the flour, mix with your hands until the butter is coated in flour, and has broken down to pea-sized bits.  Your dough should look and feel a bit like damp sand at the beach.  It helps to chill your hands before you do this, or to use a pastry cutter.  Get one with the steel blades, not the wire.

Put it all back in the FP. Take your ice water out of the fridge.  Add a *little* at a time (I’m talking a table spoon or so) while you pulse the dough.  At some point, the dough will start to clump up and may get clogged or separated in the FP.  You can either move it around and fiddle with it, or take it out and work it by hand, adding water a little at a time.

You’re looking for the time when, if you squeeze the dough together, it holds its shape.  Too dry?  It’ll crack.  Too wet?  Slimy.  Sticky.  Gross.  You can counterbalance if you cross the too wet line by adding a little more flour.

*Important with gluten doughs* You can overwork them.  Handle and knead and mix the dough as little as possible.  Ideally (this takes practice) you want to roll your dough out, and be able to see chunks of butter apparent in its surface.

When the dough is cohering properly, place it on a large sheet of plastic wrap, lightly dusted in flour.  Form the dough into 2 disks (like a hamburger, not a Frisbee) and wrap tightly.  Put it in the fridge for an hour.

FILLING:

Cut your apples into thin slices.  Don’t peel them.  People who don’t like apple peels have stupid preferences.

About 4-5 apples should do you, depending upon the size of your pie plate, and how mountainous you like your pies.

Throw the following into a bowl with the apples:

¾ C of brown sugar

1/8 C. white sugar

Some acceptable ratio of Cinnamon:Cloves:Nutmeg:Cardamom or any other spices you like in pie.  You can (and in fact ought to occasionally) easily adapt this pie to be savory with onions, sausage and sage, for the record.

A little flour or some Tapioca Pearls that you have soaked according to the instructions on the box – this is to help your pie thicken instead of being soupy.  The tapioca pearls work well, if you are patient. Otherwise, rely on butter + brown sugar to form a caramel.

You can also add things like:

Molasses, Grade B Maple Syrup, Honey, Agave Nectar >>edit<< EW.  Dont’. or other delights of your choice.  Like, you know, whiskey.  Just sayin.

Make sure you balance the liquid sweeteners with some butter and some brown sugar, mixed well. That goo will form a caramel-like paste and counteract the liquid content of your liquid sweetener. 

You want the apples to be well-coated, but not sitting in a gallon of goo, ideally.  The consistency of the filling should be fairly thick and sticky.  Like chocolate chip cookie dough sticky.  Lumps are a bonus.

Let the filling sit for a few minutes.  Have some coffee.  Maybe clean some of the myriad of dishes you’ve created in making this pie.  Sweep the flour off the floor (it will be there, trust me.)

Take out your dough.  Lightly grease your pie plate >>edit<< Use some lard, not butter.  You can use the wrappers from the butter to do this.  Leave your dough on the plastic wrap.  Flour your rolling pin.  >>edit<< Do what you can to chill your hands a bit.  Hold a glass of ice, or a cold pack.  Keep it nearby.  The less warm that touches your dough, the better.  More’s the better if you have a marble rolling pin.  Stick that ish in the fridge in advance, and use it cold.

Roll the first disk of dough in a starburst pattern, starting from the middle and working out in a radial pattern.  This ensures your pie crust will be uniform in width.  It should be stretchy, but not rubbery, or bouncy.  In other words, when you roll it out, it stays put and doesn’t shrink back the way pizza dough or bread dough sometimes do.

Roll it as thin as you can manage.  I struggle with this.  When it is to your desired or tolerated thickness, pick up the dough, plastic wrap and all, and gently (!!!) place it, dough-face down onto the pie plate.  Peel the plastic wrap away.  Arrange dough in pie plate.  Trim off excess (and eat it, because it’s delicious) beyond an inch or so of the pie plate’s rim.

Roll out second disk as you did the first.

Fill your pie.

Place the second disk of dough in a fashion similar to the first, only on top of the filling, this time.

Seal and crimp edges.

Cut slits in the top of your pie.

*Important* EGG WASH YOUR PIE I MEAN IT.

2 yolks and a little salt should do it.  Brush on gently.  You’ll thank me.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake for 35-45 minutes.  If you see your crimped edges starting to get too brown, shield them with some tin foil.

Let the pie sit for 20 minutes before you cut it.

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Things I Love about Autumn: Pie. Also, Pie. Then there’s Pie.

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