[this is actually Liz's pie. she flutes those edges like a pro.]
Enter Kate Payne of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. She wrote a fantastic post about holding ‘parties’ to learn and share specific skills, such as preserving and jam-making. I wrote in the comments section that I thought a great twist on that would be to learn how to make piecrust. And then I mentioned it to one of my best friends, Liz. Liz has family in the area, and she was kind enough to volunteer her Aunt Laura (and Aunt Laura donated her time, kitchen space, and materials!). Yesterday, I learned how to make Aunt Laura’s perfect pie. And it was WONDERFUL.
6 cups peeled and cored tart apples, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (this turned out to be about 7 Granny Smith apples)
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup – 1 cup white sugar (I used the full cup, because the apples were quite tart)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cinnamon (use the max, I always say!)
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Crust (for a two-crust pie)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
1/4 cup ice water (add more as needed)
Prepare the piecrust first and refrigerate while making the filling.
Crust – Mix flour, salt, butter and Crisco with a pastry cutter or two forks until butter and Crisco lumps are pea-sized. Add cold water, fluffing lightly with fork (do NOT overmix). Continue to add water, until the mixture holds together just enough to form the dough into a ball when shaped with your hands. Make sure any extra flour is worked into the pastry. Divide dough in half and form into two separate discs. Cover each disc with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until needed. It will be easier to roll dough if cold, and the crust should be cold when placed in oven.
To create piecrust, cover flat, clean surface in flour, and place a disc atop flour. Turn over to coat other side. Roll out with rolling pin (not pressing down, but ‘out’), making sure to check periodically that dough is not breaking up, sticking to surface, and that it maintains a circular shape. When approximately 10 1/2 to 11 inches in diameter, wrap around rolling pin and transfer pastry to the bottom of the pie plate. Cut away excess dough.
[action shot! yes, i look good even while intensely focused on pie. ha.]
Filling - Place the prepared apples in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Add this mixture to the apples and mix lightly until coated. Heap apples in pastry-lined 9-inch pie plate, then adjust slices so that the whole pie plate is covered. Keep a higher mound in the center so that the crust doesn’t sink after baking. Dot apples with small pieces of butter.
Place top crust over apples and flute the edges, crimping top and bottom crust together with fingers and tucking top crust just under edge of bottom crust. Cut a couple of vent slits in the center of the pie with a sharp knife.
Bake 40-45 minutes at 425 degrees F, or until crust is lightly browned. Protect the crimped edge of the crust from burning by placing a thin piece of tin foil over the pastry edge for first half of the baking time, then remove for remainder.
Note: this pie was the best of show for baked goods at the Anne Arundel County Fair in 1988. And Aunt Laura is a generous and patient teacher. AND, all photos courtesy of Liz and Liz's sweet iPhone. By the way, Liz and another friend have a new blog. You could, you know, check it out.
Recommended for: nostalgic baking fun, an experience to share with multiple generations (ask – I bet someone you know can teach you!), and, of course, a delicious slice of Americana – served alone, with cheddar cheese, or my personal favorite, hot out of the oven with vanilla ice cream.