20 August 2011

Grandma's Apples Pie

Yesterday myself, my husband and baby visited my grandparents, like we do nearly every week. During this visit they offered us some of their newly-ripened apples for us to pick and take home. My husband being 6’2” tall was the one who was chosen to procure the fruit from the higher branches. It was generous of them…and seeing the apples hanging off the tree all ripe and tasty made me envision a flaky, tender and sweet destiny for them! 
Aren’t they a thing of beauty? Just the thing to welcome the coming early autumn season. After doing some research once we had brought the apples home, I discovered the apples were Alkemene and Golden Delicious which were perfect for pie since they are tart and firm! I’d been looking for an opportunity to make a pie ever since my husband bought me that great cookbook I shared with you in April.

So today I got to work making my pie. I’ve made pies before (cherry, which is my favorite), but almost forgot how incredibly fun it was! Especially fun was pinching the butter into the flour and salt mixture.
Few things feel better in the kitchen to me than that old-fashioned hands-on approach (I’m a firm believer that if you don’t make even a little mess on your hands and in the kitchen, you’re not enjoying yourself!) This is cultured butter, too, by the way. Interesting note: The traditional way to make that pie crust flaky is to use cultured butter, because its acidity is what breaks down the gluten in the flour.

Once the dough-making process was complete, with two balls of dough chilling in the refrigerator, each one of the star attractions of this pie was tenderly washed, delicately de-leaved, and carefully peeled…
 and keenly chopped…
I tossed the pieces together with sugar, flour, and cinnamon! While that perfect unity of ingredients sat together stewing happily in a big bowl, I shaped my pie crust, rolling it out into big circles (with a bit of hand patting for good measure, and a good deal of mess!)
Once the first circle of crust was place in the pie pan, it was time to bring it all together!
Mmm…apple pie. The top crust was put on, of course, and into the oven it went! What came out was what looked like pie perfection (really, please click ALL the following pictures to enlarge to see the full flaky detail!):

Well, my husband couldn’t wait much longer than I could to cut a few early-morning slices, but not before throwing on some powdered sugar for good measure. Once sliced and plated, I knew that I had achieved my best pie to date.
The flaky golden crust, the juicy spiced apples that retained their crisp texture just enough to still melt in your mouth. No lie, when I tasted this pie, I declared with no small amount of pride and quite loudly “This is the best pie I have ever eaten!”

No, you won’t find the recipe for this pie here. Why? Because I want you all go out and buy the amazing book The Lost Art of Real Cooking, by Rosanna Nafzinger and Ken Albala. Go and get it right now! For this is one delicious and surprisingly simple pie…baking recipes these days seem so scientific and standardized and complicated and statistical, but this book brings it all back to the poetic basics. Follow the recipe, but make this recipe your own…they encourage it in the book. I myself added extra butter and a splash of vanilla in the crust, and used confectioner’s sugar, and adjusted the baking time.
Whatever you do, write down your alterations, and enjoy your pie! It will be scrumptious

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