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EASY AS PIE

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By Kimara - Posted on 03 June 2008

            To my way of thinking, whoever made the statement, “Easy as pie” was either someone who never made a pie or is totally delusional! I can believe there are those who actually enjoy baking pies, but let’s face it, they’re not easy! When it comes to baking pies, you either approach it as a labor of love or, like me, as a bloody pain in the…well, let’s just say, when I bake pies, I do it under duress. I want to enjoy baking pies…honest I do. It’s a national icon, right? You know…“as American as mom and apple pie”. And I do appreciate a good pie. I can even make a decent pie when pushed. I’ve just never totally embraced the experience. It’s the whole crust thing that I balk at. It’s so, hmm, what’s the word I’m looking for…labor intense? No, that’s not it, although they are time consuming. Messy? No, that’s not it either, but given my tendency to do “full body” baking, I usually wind up looking like a chimp let loose in a flour mill! I think the word I’m looking for is finicky.

 

            I am definitely an “ish” person. If it wasn’t for the fact that family and friends ask for recipes I would never write them down. When I cook, I don’t measure. Experience guides my hands, and taste directs my fine tuning. There is a fair amount of latitude in my cooking style. Not so with pies. In my mind, the secret of a truly good pie is a phenomenal crust. Mess up a little and the crust is tough or falls apart when you try to take it out of the pie plate. Or the absolute worst…it’s so soggy on the bottom it looks like the inside of a scab! (Gross, I know…but I think soggy pie crusts are gross!) So, no matter how good the “guts” of the pie may be, without a good crust, the gastronomic experience is doomed!

 

            Family story time…shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this point if I say my mom can make a killer pie. She’s a good, dare I say, great cook and her pies teeter on perfection. Being a displaced farm girl, she does many of those things well. I can remember as a child growing up she made things from “scratch” when convenience foods were all the rage. She’d put up peaches and applesauce. She’d make jams and compotes. She’d stock the freezer with blanched green beans and quick breads. She’d even make a bunch of apple pies and freeze them. What a treat it was to come home in the middle of the week to the smell of a freshly baked apple pie!

 

            One day my aunt and uncle were visiting from Missouri. My mom pulled out one of her frozen pies, popped it in the oven, and within the hour people were partaking of the perfect pastry. My uncle decided to follow her example and one Saturday afternoon my aunt and uncle had their best friends over, and they spent the day baking and freezing pies. A couple of weeks later my mom got a frustrated phone call from my uncle. Seems his crust was so hard they literally could not slice through it with a fork! “What the heck happened?” he implored? With just a couple of questions she ascertained that the crust had been “overworked”. She found out that after making the crust, my uncle and his friend “played” with the dough before rolling it out. They threw it across the room like a softball. They pulled and molded it like Play-Dough starved kindergarteners! Bottom line, instead of handling the crust as little as possible, they developed a gluten framework that could support an elephant!

 

            Anyway…I do have enough sense not to play with the dough, but it seems that things like water temperature, air temperature, humidity and the alignment of the planets all contributes to the crust’s chances of success. And, I suppose, thanks to my mom, I’ve been spoiled because I truly dislike the prepared crusts you can buy. It’s from scratch, baby, or nothing! So, adding to my ever expanding “Wish List of Things to Do” is  my desire to become a proficient pie maker! I figured summer is a great time to work on it, with all the fresh fruits available. So, wish me luck! I want to turn my Fear of “Pie-ing”, into Pie Hopes!  

 

MOM’S TOTALLY AWESOME APPLE PIE

 

Crust Ingredients – 9” double pie crust

2 1/4 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco shortening

6 tablespoons ice water

 

Crust Directions

Sift flour and measure. Add salt and Crisco. Use a pastry blender to mix ingredients. Dough should be coarse; do not over mix. Add cold water (1 tablespoon at a time) and just lightly mix. Roll out dough between wax paper. Place into a lightly Crisco greased pie pan. (For a pre-baked pie crust, bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10 - 15 minutes.)

 

Pie Ingredients

5 cups sliced, peeled apples (preferably Macintosh)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 flour or 2 tablespoons of tapioca

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter


Top of pie:

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Pie Directions

Combine apples, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and flour. Mix to coat apples. Turn into a pastry lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Cover with the top crust. Pinch closed. Put slits in crust for steam to escape. Rub or paint top with 1 tablespoon milk. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes or until top is golden and the fruit is bubbly.

 

Got a “secret” for pie making or a favorite pie recipe or story? Please share!


Appreciate the recipe, cooking is love and this is indeed a simple and exquisite apple pie. - YOR Health

Thanks Candy....hmmm....I've seen that before. I do have the one where you push it down through the apple and it cores and quarters it. But you still have to peel it first. That does work pretty well though. They even use it in my son's Montessori class as part of a practical life activity. Pampered Chef is so much fun. I'll have to check out their apple thing. To peel, core AND quarter. That's pretty awesome. And if you aren't going to like pie, then brownies are a stellar alternative. Have I posted my brownie recipe? I make killer brownies, if I'm allowed to brag...

Kim-My favorite desserts...pretty much anything BUT pie! I love brownies, esp brownie sundaes with lots of caramel and ice cream and whipped cream. I love me some cookies and cake, any ice cream, truffles, candies. I have a super big sweet tooth. I could go on and on and on...LOL

Tina-Pampered Chef has an apple slicer/corer/peeler that is awesome. You stick the apple in it, turn the crank and it does everything for you. Like I said, I don't eat pie, but this is priceless when I make apple crisp in the fall!

ALL the pie recipes sound great! I plan to start my pie career by making all those on the blog first. Also, I just ordered the Killer Pie book listed above. I'll let everyone know what it's like. All the recipes are from Inns and B&Bs. Just like Lisa found out, they often have the best recipes! And not to worry Candy, I won't try to ship you a piece of pie but you'll have to let us know what some of your favorite desserts are!

Yum, that apple maple turnover sounds like a yummy, quickie dessert! You can't go wrong with maple syrup!

My lack of cooking has been well documented ;) however, My husband and I were at a B&B in Rhode Island and they severed this yummy apple pie kind of thing. It was so good. They had a few of their recipes and this was on it. I'VE even made it. It's easy and so good, plus you don't need to roll out a crust. Thought you'd appreciate that, Kim! Enjoy!

APPLE MAPLE TURNOVER

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 medium-sized apples, thinly sliced
1 package refrigerated crescent rolls

Melt butter or margarine in a 10-inch pie plate in oven, while oven is still heating. Stir in maple syrup and brown sugar until well blended. Arrange apple slices in overlapping rings in syrup. Separate crescent rolls into triangles and arrange overlapping triangles in pie plate over apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pie plate on wire rack 5 minutes. Loosen rolls from side of plate with a knife. Invert plate onto pie plate. Top with whipped cream.

Okay, I told you my mom worked as a waitress. The restaurant was this glorified diner but a bit of a local landmark. When mom wanted a pie, she'd bring one home from work. When I was a kid I assumed pies were kind of like cars, you bought them and used them, you didn't make them yourself. It wasn't until I was in middle school and went to a friend's house and her mom was baking a pie that it really clicked that it was possible to make your own! God, I'm soooo domestic! Anyway, shouldn't surprise you that I've never made a pie myself. And my favorite pie? Anyone that comes from a diner!

Yum, strawberry rhubarb pie. June is definitely the month for that. I might have to make one when the local strawberries are ready for picking. I still have an apple pie in my freezer that I made last winter. I better bake it up soon! I actually don't have a problem with crusts. Maybe it's because I like to bake, and I'm a "measurer". I don't usually use a pastry blender though, I just use my fingers. I find it easier. Or I use my Cuisinart. I really like fruit pies, but don't really care for cream pies. Cherry pie is probably my favorite. However, that said, my best pie recipe is this one for Caramel Apple Pie. It's to die for. I have always found apple pies to taste the best when you use more than one variety of apple. My least favorite part about making pie is peeling and cutting up all of those apples!! Good luck with your pie making endeavors!

Caramel Apple Pie

Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes to 1-1/2 hours

1 prepared 9” pie crust (see below)

Caramel Streusel Topping

9 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup almond brickle chips or toffee bits

Filling
6 or 7 apples (I like two varieties, Granny Smith and another) – 2 ½ pounds
¾ cup almond brickle chips or toffee bits
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter, flour, sugar and brickle bits for topping. Form mixture into two balls and refrigerate.

Peel and core all apples. Cut each apple into quarters, then cut quarters into halves. Toss apples with brickle chips, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Spoon into crust. Dot with butter. Break topping into pieces over apples.

Bake 20 minutes. Loosely cover pie with tent of foil with a quarter sized hole in middle. Bake 1 hour or until bubbly and crust is golden.

Flaky Pie Crust

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
4 to 6 Tbs. ice water

Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender. Add ice water, tossing with fork, until mixture comes together; form into ball. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 13” circle. Place in 9” glass pie plate. Trim overhang to 1”. Fold under and flute edge.

So many people think that I'm crazy or completely nuts, but....I despise pie. I can't stand the stuff. Yuck, icky, bleck. Never have liked it and still don't. I really don't know why, either, but I keep trying it and I still don't like it. BUT, I wish you the best in your ventures toward the great pie! Just don't send any my way! LOL

LOL - Oopps! Should probably include the recipe! Here it is ;)

No-crust Apple Pie

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1 cup apples, peeled and chopped

Directions:
Mix sugar, flour and egg. Add next 5 ingredients; blend well. Stir in nuts and apples. Pour into greased 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

I have NEVER made a pie crust in my life. When I was a kid I remember my mom making pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and cherry pies in the summer. She always moaned about making the crust especially when she made a cherry pie and did that weaving thing on the top. Finally she started buying the ready made crusts and eventually just started buying pies from the bakery. Since I was never a pie lover it just never seemed like something I wanted to try. I was at a friend's house and she made a no crust apple pie. It was really good. I haven't made it yet but I did get the recipe which is huge for me! Anyway, I'm including that recipe. You might want to give it a try Kim! Have a great week all!

LOL - I actually love making pies. But I am a little better about 'playing by the rules' than my mother. After taking a few tips from dear old Alton Brown... pie crust isn't really as scary as it first seems and I really enjoy rolling it out.

I've played with several apple pie recipes and will include the one that my husband likes the most. It kinda combines the best of pie and crisp into one very yummy desert. Granny Smiths are my favorite apple for it.

Anyone have a really good Strawberry Rhubarb pie recipe? We often bought them in the summer growing up and that one definitely makes me think of summer but I've never attempted one myself.

INGREDIENTS
1 (9 inch) pie shell

FILLING:
5 cups apples - peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons butter

TOPPING:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup butter

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Fit pastry shell into pie pan and place in freezer.

To Make Apple Filling: Place apples in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine 2 tablespoons flour, white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix well, then add to apples. Toss until apples are evenly coated.

Remove pie shell from freezer. Place apple mixture in pie shell and dot with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil lightly on top of filling, but do not seal.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

While filling is baking, make Streusel Topping: In a medium bowl combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, brown sugar, oats, and lemon peel. Mix thoroughly, then cut in 1/2 cup butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Remove filling from oven and sprinkle streusel on top.

Reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until streusel is browned and apples are tender. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.

Notes from the site: "The crunchy oat topping adds an extra dimension to this delicious apple pie. Try using Golden Delicious, Jonagold, or Granny Smith apples for this pie."