Introduction: Homemade Apple Pie
PIE!! Is there anything better than homemade apple pie? I think not!
Though apples are available all year they somehow turn into a new level of amazing in the fall; something about the smell of turning leaves and crisp air iterrupted by smells of a freshly baked apple pie make the change of season something to look forward to. Dispite what anyone says, making pies from scratch isn't hard at all. In fact, once you try (and succeed) at making your own pasty crust, you may never go back!
This apple pie recipe is simple, easily customized, and an automatic homerun absolutely anytime! It's a decadent dessert, so prepare yourself.
A wise man once said: "You may have to serve out cake, but people will come to you for pie."
So, wanna make your own?
Step 1: Ingredients
Lard and shortening pastry recipes found on packaging may vary but all use the same basic ratio of ingredients, here's what I used:
- 6 cups cake and pastry flour (or 5 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 lb pure lard (or shortening)
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 egg
- cold water
Other stuff you'll need:
- lemon juice
- vanilla extract
- milk (1-2%)
- sugar (any kind)
- rolling pin
- oven (preheated to 350 F), range, large pot
- baking dish (mine was 7"x11")
Step 2: Apple Filling
To determine how many apples I needed I estimate by placing the whole, unpeeled apples into the dish I intend to bake them in. When the dish is full, I add a few more to be safe. Extra apples not used for pie are usually eaten, so extras isn't really an issue.
Before peeling, place a large bowl of cold water and lemon juice in the sink. This bowl will hold our apples and prevent them from turning brown while they are being prepared.
Peel and core all apples, then half and cut into thin slices. Place all slice and apples into lemon-water bowl between handling.
Par-boil (optional, but recommended)
Heat a large pot of water and a 1/2 cup of sugar on the oven. Transfer apple slices into boiling water and par-boil for about a minute. This parboiling will allow the apples to retain more moisture when cooking in the pie crust.
After par-boiling, apple slices are tossed in a lemon juice, sugar, cinnomon, vanilla extract and water solution. The ratio of your solution can vary depending on your taste. After mixing apples slices in solution they were wrapped and placed in the refridgerator to rest while the crust was being prepared.
Step 3: Pastry 101
I promised that making pie crust was easy, here's how it's done.
In a large mixing bowl add salt to the flour.
Take lard and slice long, deep groves into the stick, then cut cubes of lard into the flour and salt mixture.
Use a pastry blender or your hands and mix the lard into the flour, it's going to get messy. After a few minutes your dough should resemble crumbly, coarse oatmeal. It's important not to over-mix the dough, as these large pockets of fat are what give a pie crust its light and flaky texture.
In a 250ml (1 cup) measuring cup, combine vinegar and egg and then add water to fill the remaining volume in the 250ml (1 cup). I use slightly less water in my mixture. Whisk liquid thouroghly with a fork. Slowly add incriments of the liquid mixture to the lard/flour mixing bowl.
Only use as much liquid as required to make dough cling together, you may not use the entire cup!
Kneed the dough until it has a conistant mixture and clings together. Do not over-work the dough, you want to keep those chunky lard deposits. When done, your dough should be one large ball and not tacky to the touch. Separate dough into 4 portions, then wrap each portion in cling film and let chill in the refrigeratorfor about an hour to firm up.
We'll use 2 of the portions for this large pie, the remainder can stay stored in the refridgerator for about a week.
Step 4: Roll That Dough
After the dough has had a chance to rest in the fridge, remove two of the dough portions and unwrap onto a flour-dusted flat surface; dust your rolling pin in flour, too.
Roll out one portion of dough to a thickness of about 1/8". To see if your dough is large enough, simply turn over your baking dish and see how much more you may have to roll to ensure proper coverage.
To transfer your rolled dough into your baking dish, here's a clever baker's tip:
After your dough is rolled out, gently roll your dough into your rolling pin, then carefully transfer the rolled dough to the edge of your baking dish and unroll it along the length of the dish. It's easy when you see it done, check out the short animated clip I made showing the process.
Roll out another portion of the dough for the pie's upper crust and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, trim the excess lower crust pasrty from the dish. Ensure to leave a little extra crust around the edges to allow the top crust to join with the lower half.
Step 5: Upper Crusts + Robots
After rolling the dough and placing the bottom crust into the baking dish it's time to fill the pie. Remove the apple pie filling from the fridge and give it another quick mix, as all that time in the fridge may have settled the mixture some. Gently pour the apple filling into the lower pie crust, make sure to include all those apple coating drippings.
Once the pie is filled it's time to add the upper crust. Using wet fingers, lubricate the entire perimeter of the lower pie crust, this will help join the raw upper and lower crusts. Using the same trick as before, roll the upper crust dough onto the rolling pin and onto the pie dish. Then , gently press the crust edges in place and finish with a knife edge to give it a decorative look.
I had extra dough left over from my trimmings, so I rolled the trimmings flat and cut out a small robot. Wetting the back of the dough cut-outs I stuck my robot shapes to the pie top and then cut in some vent holes around the robot (representing andriod brainwaves, or something).
I finish my pies with a light brush of 1-2% milk before baking, this gives the pie top a golden and cracked texture on top after baking.
Step 6: Bake and Serve!
Place pie into a preheated 350 F oven on middle rack for about 20 minutes, or until pie filling is bubbling and top is golden brown. If you are having cooking irregularities try covering your pie with aluminum foil while baking to ensure the filling is cooked, then finish the pie without the foil to get that golden colour.
Feel free to share your own varitions and tips for making pie below!