Sunday, 18 February 2007
Mmmm, My Favourite: Apple Pie
A: apple pie
B bit it
C cut it
D dealt it
Ever since my mother taught me how to make pastry, I have prided myself on my pies. As I recall, it was I who made the pastry whenever we had pie for Sunday dinners. I was so impressed with my pie making abilities that when I was 12 (or 13??), I entered a Macintosh apple pie I had made into a baking competition. I had carefully carved the most beautiful stylized apple in the top crust. I was sure my pie would win the contest.
I vividly remember standing by the table as the judges began to assess the entries. And I remember my horror as I watched a perfectly coiffed woman, her scarlet fingernails glistening, pick up a spoon and summarily jam it right through the center of the beautiful apple design – without even noticing that it was an apple or that the words “apple pie” were neatly etched in a semi circle around the bottom edge of the pie – and stuff some pastry and apples into her vermillion lipsticked maw.
She murmured something about cinnamon, sugar and apples not keeping their shape, made a few marks on her notepad and picked up another spoon in preparation for mangling the center of the next entry on the table. I was devastated.
But it didn’t stop me from making pie; I knew that I made the best pastry in the world even if I didn’t have the blue ribbon to prove it. Because it really is good pastry: flaky, light, crispy in just the right places.
For years, when we wanted pie, T would ask me to make the pastry. But once, when I was working overtime a lot, he asked me if I’d show him how. No problem. Because it’s really very easy to make great pastry. And you know what? I have been removed from my pedestal as the best pastry maker. Yup, it’s true. I can still make great pastry but the student has surpassed the teacher and now T makes the greatest pastry and the greatest pies.
Here is our pastry recipe:
Relatively recently, T has taken a new step in the preparation of the pie. Instead of rolling out two crusts and fluting them together (as in a rhubarb pie made last summer), he rolls out one large round, piles fruit in the center and then folds the edges over into the center. No need for poking vents to let the steam release. No need to have any largish sections of unfilled pastry at the edge of the pie.
Sure, it doesn’t look perfect. Well, actually, I think it does look perfect. But you know what I mean. It isn’t round and the edges don’t have fancy fluting. However, the taste is darn close to perfection.
For WTSIM… pie!, we decided that apples would be the best fruit to use. Mainly because apples are pretty much the only local fruits available in the dead of winter. Okay, you’re right. It’s really mainly because apple pie is my favourite kind of pie.
I no longer think that Macintosh apples are the ideal apples for pie. I don’t mind a couple of them but they really do break up with cooking. I have been swayed by the argument that at least some of the apples should hold their shape. (Rest assured that it was NOT because of what the baking contest judge said… it’s actually because Ontario Macintosh apples don’t have the same sparkling flavour as the BC Macs I remember from my youth).
I also used to think that if some cinnamon was good, more must be better. But we forgot to put cinnamon in an apple pie a while back and were wowed by the pure flavour of the apples. So this time, we put in a very small amount of cinnamon – just enough to give a hint of cinnamon flavour but not enough to overpower the apples. It’s the way to go!!
Now, I know that the rules specifically state that the pie be closed in order to qualify as an entry for WTSIM… pie!. Even though there is a largish hole at the top of the pie, I consider it to be a closed pie. And for the literal-minded, there is that little bit of cinnamon covering the section at the center of the pie. (Have I managed to wiggle my way into having followed the rules to the letter, Jeanne? )
- 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ c vegetable shortening
- ICE-COLD water (anywhere from 2 Tbsp to ½ c)
- 5 apples (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jona Gold)
- juice of ½ lime
- ½ c sugar
- ¼ tsp seasalt
- 5 tsp flour
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour and salt until it is pea sized. Add ICE-COLD water a little at a time and mix lightly until it is pastry consistency. Use a pastry cutter if your hands are warm or use your hands if you have cold hands like mine. Please note that the amount of water changes drastically, depending on the humidity. (For whatever pastry recipe you use, if it is very humid, reduce the amount of water called for.)
- Wrap it tightly in plastic. REFRIGERATE AT LEAST ONE HOUR.
- Juice half a lime into a largish bowl.
- Peel, core and slice the apples into the bowl with the lime juice. To further prevent browning, gradually stir in the sugar as each apple is cut.
- Stir seasalt in; cover the apples and refrigerate til time to build the pie.
- After the pastry has chilled, turn the oven to 450F.
- Handling the pastry as little as possible, place it on a lightly floured board. Roll it out into a large round that will easily fold back in on itself. Loosely drape the rolled pastry over the top of a ceramic pie plate.
- Gently stir flour into apple mixture and then place it in the center of the pastry. Dot with butter and sprinkle cinnamon overtop
- Fold the edges of the pastry over the apples, leaving a hole in the center to allow steam to escape.
- Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350F and continue baking for about 25 minutes or until the apples are bubbling.
Serve warm with creme fraiche, yoghurt or thinly sliced cheddar cheese – or, if you must, vanilla ice cream.
Oh yes and one more thing; apple pie is great for breakfast! (click on image for larger view and more photos)
Jeanne (Cook Sister!), Johanna The Passionate Cook and Andrew (Spittoon Extra) have just launched this intriguing new food blogging event to take place each month in 2007. The second WTSIM… is hosted by Jeanne. She wrote:
The theme for February will be (drum roll…) pies!
Aaaaah, pie. One of life’s great joys when made well, one of life’s great disappointments when not. Sweet, savoury, chunky, dainty, warm cold… there really is a pie to suit every occasion. Now, in keeping with WTSIM’s spirit of inclusiveness, we have decided to leave the decision up to you as to whether you want to make a sweet or a savoury pie, so whether it’s your Grammy’s apple pie or your Uncle Basil’s famous steak & kidney pie – either will do! The only little limit we have set, though, is that it must be a closed pie – in other words, no flans or tarts or quiches. The filling must be invisible when the pie is served. So fish pie would be OK, but tarte tatin would not. Everybody clear?
The deadline for WTSIM… pie! is 26 February, 2007. If you would like to participate, please read the following for more information:
edit 9 March 2007: At last! Jeanne has published the pie round up:
A apple pie. B bit it; C cut it; D dealt it; E et it; F fought for it; G got it; H had it; I ???
I iced it??? Alas, I cannot remember. So I googled… but I don’t know if Grandpa was quoting the Kate Greenaway version or if he was quoting from a different version he heard in his own childhood.
A APPLE PIE | B BIT IT | C CUT IT | D DEALT IT | E EAT IT | F FOUGHT FOR IT | G GOT IT | H HAD IT | J JUMPED FOR IT | K KNELT FOR IT | L LONGED FOR IT | M MOURNED FOR IT | N NODDED FOR IT | O OPENED IT | P PEEPED IN IT | Q QUARTERED IT | R RAN FOR IT | S SANG FOR IT | T TOOK IT | U V W X Y Z ALL HAD A LARGE SLICE AND WENT OFF TO BED
My feeling after seeing the following is that it was indeed a different version from the Greenaway, because I seem to recall now that “S stole it” rather than “sang for it”.
A was an apple pie. B bit it. C cut it. D dealt it.
E eat (ate) it. F fought for it. G got it. H had it. I inspected it. J jumped for it. K kept it. L longed for it. M mourned for it. N nodded at it. O opened it. P peeped in it. Q quartered it. R ran for it. S stole it. T took it. U upset it. V viewed it. W wanted it. X,Y & Z all wished for and had a piece in hand.
And yet another version:
A, Apple Pie
A, apple pie [...] D dropped it | E eats it | F found it | G got it | H had it | I was ill from it | J jumped for it | K kept it | L left it | M made it | N named it | O opened it | P picked it up | Q quartered it | R ran for it | S saw it | T took it [...]