Thursday, February 18, 2016

Candy Critic Dessert Club – Something Simple? - Apple Pie

The saying "it's as simple as apple pie" obviously has more to do with the people eating the pie, than the people making the pie.  Apple pie is in no way the easiest dessert to make, it's not even the easiest pie to make.  It takes about 3 hours, and involves many pots and pans, spices, and the a great deal of apple know-how.  The apple know-how is the part that I am most lacking, in my mind there are about 3 or 4 different varieties of apples (know there's more but I don't think about them), and I've never bought apples for pie in my life.  Instead, I find that I have apples that seem to be going bad, so I figure the best way to use them is to make an apple pie.  This never works our right.

2 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
14 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1 large egg, beaten
 2 tablespoons cold water

Filling (Although you can just use a can if you don't have the apples, but in that case, why did you want to make an apple pie anyways?)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 pounds apples, in my case whatever you have on hand
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg

The first thing you have to do to make this pie perfect is make sure that the butter is cold.  When you're dicing the butter you'll probably have to keep it out of the refrigerator and you'll be touching it a lot.  So to make sure that you're not working with warm butter, dice it, then put it back in the fridge.  While it's cooling, mix up the flour, sugar, and salt.  Once the butter is cooled put the cold butter into the bowl and work the dry ingredients into the butter using your fingers.  You'll want the mixture to look like corn meal.  Then ad the egg to the mixture along with the cold water.  The best way to get this into a nice roll-able dough is to use your fingers to mix it up, a spoon just wont cut it. Once the whole thing is combined cover the dough and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.
During your one hour of waiting, watch a little TV, then start working on the filling.  Cut the apples into quarters, then slice them fairly thinly.  Make sure to sprinkle the lemon juice on the apples fairly quickly after you've cut them up, as this will keep them from turning brown.  As soon as all the apples are cut, pour on the brown sugar and mix it around till the apples are evenly covered (again using your hands works really well for this).  Take all the butter for the filling, and melt it in a pan, then add the apples and let it all melt and simmer for a few minutes.  There will be a lot of liquid, so strain the apple bits out, and put the liquid back into the pan.  Heat up the pan with the juice and melted sugar until it thickens up into a syrup like consistency.  Then off of the heat, toss the apples, the thickened juice, and the cinnamon and nutmeg together.  Let all this cool before putting it in the pie crust.

Speaking of pie crust, by now you're pie dough has been in the fridge for at least an hour... right?  Well if it has, it's time to take it out and roll it flat.  Cut the ball of dough into two, one half should go back into the fridge, and the other half should be put onto a well flowered counter.  Flatten the dough on the counter as best as you can with your hands, then use a rolling pin to make it about one quarter of an inch thick.  Make sure it's as even as possible, and as soon as it's ready, use it to line your pie plate.  If you don't have a pie plate any baking pan should work, as long as you're OK with having an unconventionally shaped pie.  The rolled out dough will not fit perfectly, so cut around the plate with a butter knife and the excess should just fall right off.  If you rip the dough you can use any scraps to fix up any gaps.
Once your pie plate is layered with the pie dough, put your now cooled filling into the mix.  Then, take your scraps of dough and your second ball of dough and roll that out to the same thickness as the bottom layer, about a quarter inch.  After it's nice and thin, use the dough to cover the top of your filled pie.  As you did with the bottom, use a butter knife to cut away the excess around the edges.  Then using a bit of water crimp the edges of the bottom part of your pie with the top part of your pie.  Crimping is a technical word for pinching.  You want to have as good a seal as you can get or the crust may separate from the bottom.

You'll notice that you have some extra dough left.  You can use this dough to decorate your pie and/or make some small tarts.  The sky is really the limit, although you could just put it back in your fridge for later, or throw it away as well.  Turn your oven to 375 and wait for it to heat up... I guess I could have told you to heat up your oven sooner, but frankly I'm not really sure when that would have been appropriate, certainly not at the start of this recipe as it is now at least 2 or 3 hours later.  Before putting your pie in the oven, cut out several slits in the top of your pie, this will allow air to escape.  I'm not sure what happens if you don't cut the slits in your top crust, however I'm not willing to waste a pie to find out.  Once the oven is heated up, put it in for about 45 to 50 minutes.  You basically need to have a nice brown colour on the top crust.
If you want to make this pie a little extra fancy, with virtually no work for you at all, sprinkle a little extra brown sugar on the top.  It makes a nice little extra candy crunch, and really only takes seconds.

When the pie is done, take it out of the oven, let it cool for a little bit, then cut and serve.

My experience with making apple pie was much more time consuming than I thought it would be.  The pie itself was OK, but as expect I used the wrong apples.  My filling turned more into an apple sauce by the time the pie was baked.  I guess I could have picked better apples, but as I said before, that's not why I make apple pie.  If I was thinking more about buying ingredients for a pie in the first place I probably would have gone for a berry or chocolate pie of some sort. But I needed to use up apples and so there you go.  My crust also seperated a bit around the edges, I think it's because I didn't wet the two crusts enough while crimping, lesson learned.  Taste wise I'm pretty happy with the pie, as were the 7 people who had a slice, the only complaint being about the texture of the apples.


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