Good Old Apple Pie (and Crust Cookies!)
It doesn’t get more Autumn than apple pie. The smell, the taste, the fruit, the process. I know I promised you roasted pumpkin seeds (and I’ll deliver!) but these pie pics were screaming to me. I mean, really? Who doesn’t love a good apple pie, cooling on the windowsill? How very grandma’s-house-in-the-country. Whether you’re just back from the orchard, or stopped by the market on your way home, baking an apple pie is a great way to cap off your day. And it’s really, really easy. Even easier if you use a store-bought crust. (Homemade is better, but as long as you make the filling, I think it counts!) And either way, you can do this with the leftover crust:
Crust cookies! Perfect for when you have crust scraps but no leftover apple filling. More on these below! There are so many ways to make an apple pie. So many variations from the crust to the filling. Here, I’ve made a homemade crust, with a lattice top, and pre-cooked my apples for the filling. The thing about apples is that they shrink when they’re cooked. Have you ever piled a pie tin so high with apples only to have a flat pie come out of the oven anyway? And then you get that weird gap between the top of the filling and the top crust? Pre-cooking your filling will prevent that. 8 cups of sliced apples cooks down to 4 cups of filling. The texture is definitely different so if you like to have a little bit of crunch left, you probably shouldn’t pre-cook. But if you’re a fan of smooth caramel-y apple filling, then this is the trick for you.
Good Old Apple Pie (and Crust Cookies!) (makes 1 pie–and a batch of crust cookies–adapted from Joy of Cooking)
for the crust:
2 cups Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 cup Cold Butter/Crisco (ratio is up to you. I like 50% Butter, 50% Crisco, or even 75%/25%. more here)
2-6 Tbsp Ice Water
for the apple filling:
8-10 cups Peeled, Cored, Sliced Apples
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
First off, make the crust. It need to refrigerate for a while so you can peel and slice your apples later. Mix the flour and sugar together, then add the butter and crisco. It helps if you cut the butter and crisco into small chunks first. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the fat into the flour until the mixture resemles course sand or oatmeal. Don’t stress yourself out over this! Crust is your friend. It’s gonna be good no matter what. Just try to get it as blended as possible. The higher the percentage of Crisco you use, the easier it will be to roll out. (Although not as buttery/flaky.) Here’s what you’re aiming for:
After you’ve gotten to this point, switch to a spatula and drizzle in 2 Tbsp ice water. Using the spatula, cut in the water. If the mixture starts sticking together, you’re ready for your hands. If not, drizzle another Tbsp or two of water. Using your hands and working quickly so the fat doesn’t melt too much, gather the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap each ball tightly in saran wrap to keep it together, and refrigerate for 1/2 – 2 hours.
Now, peel and slice your apples. In a big pot on the stove, heat the apples over medium heat until they begin to get juicy. Add the sugar and cinnamon. Cover, reduce to medium-low heat and allow to reduce until the mixture is thick and sticky. You do want some chunks left so don’t leave it over the heat for more than 5-7 minutes or so. Once it’s reduced, allow it to cool by spreading it on a cookie sheet or some other method.
Preheat to 350, and take the crust out of the fridge and begin by rolling out the larger ball onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands, rolling pin, and both sides of the ball. Don’t worry about the edges-they will crack. Try to get an area the size of your pie tin plus 3-4 inches around. After every couple swipes of the rolling pin, lift up the crust and sprinkle a little more flour underneath. I use a thin, flat cutting board to help me lift up the crust (like this) – almost like a giant spatula. Once it’s all rolled out, lift it gently and slide it onto your pie tin/pan, pushing it into the corners. Allow the edges to just hang over for now. Once the filling is cool, you can pour it right into your crust. Roll out the other ball of crust, and use a pizza cutter to cut strips 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Criss cross the strips over the pie (put all the horizontal ones down first, then weave the vertical ones), weaving them by pulling back every other horizontal strip and laying the next vertical one down. Easier than it sounds, again, don’t get stressed about this – it’ll be delicious even if your weaving is slightly uneven!
Pinch the strips to the crust that is hanging over the edge, and remove any excess crust. Brush the lattice with a tiny bit of milk, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cover the edges with tin foil (remove halfway through baking) if you don’t like it getting too brown (I didn’t bother). Pop it in the oven for 45 min – 1 hour. Yay, pie!! When it’s done, allow it to cool before slicing in.
Now, what to do with that leftover crust? Crust cookies! Mash everything into a ball and roll it out again. Slice into whatever shapes you want! Pop em on a cookie sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 10 minutes should do it, at 350, while the pie bakes. Just keep an eye on them and you’ll know when they’re ready. Eat them while you’re waiting for your pie to cool!
Filed under: dessert, few ingredients, fruit | 4 Comments