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Sunday, 18 February 2007

A: Apple Pie – (WTSIM… pie!)

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Waiter, there’s something in my… pie!

Mmmm, My Favourite: Apple Pie

(click on image for larger view and more photos)
apple pie Apple pie always makes me think of my grandpa, who(m??) we loved to hear reciting this ABC:

A: apple pie
B bit it
C cut it
D dealt it
[etc.]

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? :-))

Here is what T did for this most recent apple pie:

Apple Pie

pastry

  • 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ c vegetable shortening
  • ICE-COLD water (anywhere from 2 Tbsp to ½ c)

filling

  • 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

preparation

  1. 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.)
  2. Wrap it tightly in plastic. REFRIGERATE AT LEAST ONE HOUR.
  3. Juice half a lime into a largish bowl.
  4. 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.
  5. Stir seasalt in; cover the apples and refrigerate til time to build the pie.
  6. After the pastry has chilled, turn the oven to 450F.
  7. 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.
  8. Gently stir flour into apple mixture and then place it in the center of the pastry. Dot with butter and sprinkle cinnamon overtop
  9. Fold the edges of the pastry over the apples, leaving a hole in the center to allow steam to escape.
  10. 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.

apple pie

Oh yes and one more thing; apple pie is great for breakfast! (click on image for larger view and more photos)

Waiter, there’s something in my (WTSIM) …

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:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


More about A: Apple Pie – Augh!! I cannot remember all of Grandpa’s ABC!! This is what I do recall:

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.

Kate Greenaway’s A APPLE PIE

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”.

The Tragical Death of A, Apple Pie Who Was Cut In Pieces, And Eaten By Twenty-Six Gentlemen, With Whom All Little People Ought to be Very Well Acquainted


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 […]

  1. Comment by MrsBrown — 18 February 2007 @ 11:46 EST

    mmmmm pie. I love pie. Sadly, I am pastry-challenged. I’ve had instruction from masters who have stood on top of me as I carefully don’t touch the pastry, roll it out gently, …. The masters have watched my every move and cannot find where I go wrong. So, now I buy ready made pastry and feel a failure…sigh I’ve never chilled it after rolling it out, perhaps I’ll try that. Yes, I’ll try that today!

  2. Comment by ejm — 19 February 2007 @ 09:33 EST

    So? I’m dying to know. How did your pastry turn out, MrsBrown?

  3. Comment by Kate — 19 February 2007 @ 09:48 EST

    I love making pies in the Fall when apples are fresh. Sometimes my crusts are wonderful, sometimes not. It’s never perfection but it always tastes mighty fine.

  4. Comment by MrsBrown — 19 February 2007 @ 10:22 EST

    It was brilliant! I made pastry that wasn’t like leather! I hardly used any water and I didn’t touch the pastry with my hands ever. I rolled it on a cold glass board and chilled it after I put it together. Hey, maybe I CAN make pastry after all.

  5. Comment by tph — 19 February 2007 @ 13:55 EST

    Here’s what I do; never add all the water at once. Add it a little at a time. Add water, fluff the pastry with a knife or fork to absorb. The dry flour will naturally fall to the bottom of the mixing bowl. Add more water to the dry flour when it sinks and add only as much as needed (kneaded). :)

  6. Comment by ejm — 19 February 2007 @ 14:11 EST

    This is very exciting news, MrsBrown! I’m so happy to hear that you made wonderful pastry at last. Congratulations.

    Yes, indeed, apple pie made in autumn is awfully good, Kate. But I have to say that the apple pie made with Ontario apples in February is darn close to apple pie made in autumn with recently picked Ontario apples.

    T has offered very good advice except to even mention the word :boo: “knead” :boo: – even in jest. Oh my no no no no :eek: No kneading of pastry ever!

  7. Comment by CAM — 20 February 2007 @ 09:39 EST

    It seems unfair that someone who wants to make pastry has had trouble. I’m sure it must be heresy to say on this blog that I really don’t like baking, and it will add insult to injury to say that when I have made pastry it seems fine to me. My mother taught me to do it when I was quite young. Happily my mother has now taught my two kids (now adults) and they both make excellent pastry.

  8. Comment by ejm — 20 February 2007 @ 17:13 EST

    It isn’t heresy at all, CAM. And maybe the reason that your pastry turns out fine is all due to the fact that you don’t really want to do it. Pastry really is better if it is handled as little as possible and I suspect that the person who isn’t keen on making it is the sort who would put it together as quickly as possible.

  9. Comment by your sister — 22 February 2007 @ 21:53 EST

    I remember it as “D delved into it”. But maybe I’m remembering a non-Grandpa version.

  10. Comment by ejm — 23 February 2007 @ 10:51 EST

    Hmm, “D delved into it” sounds right too… I wonder if Grandpa changed it sometimes. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone but Grandpa recite the poem – although I came across a reference to it in a Dickens novel I read not long ago!

  11. Comment by Jeanne — 7 March 2007 @ 13:33 EST

    Mmmm, apple pie! This actually looks attractively like a rather large apple Danish and yes, it is modestly covered as far as I’m concerned ;-) Interesting what you say about leaving out the cinnamon – it is true that often you taste more raisins and cinnamon that apples in an apple pastry. I might have to try that next time I bake with apples… Thanks for joining in with WTSIM and hope to see you back next month :)

  12. Comment by ejm — 7 March 2007 @ 17:11 EST

    Really? You put raisins in your apple pie, Jeanne? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. (Hmmm, as much as I’d like to try it, I’m not sure that I’d be able to bring myself to actually adding raisins to an apple pie…)

    I can’t tell you how relieved I am that our pie is considered by you to be covered even though there is a largish hole in the center. :-D

    edit: I have looked at all three WTSIM host sites to find out the March theme, but cannot see it. I’m guessing that Johanna (thepassionatecook) will be hosting the next one but don’t see any mention of it on her site. Has WTSIM for March been cancelled?

 

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