One day this past spring, on the way back to the car after picking Mason up from school, he stopped to admire a great redwood tree standing in a neighboring yard. “Hey, that looks like the tree in the book my teacher read today!” I could tell Mason had a great day at school because he actually remembered what he learned. He continued to tell me about how trees, eggs and frogs grow.
When we got home Mason asked if I would bake him an apple pie. A couple of weeks prior he requested a blueberry pie inspired by Pig on Word World who loves to bake blueberry pie. Now here was another request but for an apple pie. I surprised myself by successfully baking the blueberry pie but pastries make me nervous so it took me quite a while to get up the nerve to try it again. I have gone through several failures to get to this recipe of apple pie.
I have come to understand when making crusts for delicate pastries such as pie crust the ingredients must be cold. When I made the blueberry pie I used frozen butter. By the time I was done cutting the butter into cubes it was the perfect temperature as if I just pulled it out of the refrigerator. However in subsequent baking attempts my pastry cutter broke. I have not replaced it for I find I enjoy working the butter in with my fingers. Consequently you will notice the recipe will direct you to use chilled butter (not frozen) and return the crust to the refrigerator until ready to use. The reasoning is the cold butter in the crust helps produce a flakier moist tastier crust. To cut in the butter use a food processor, pastry cutter or your fingers. Always cut butter into small cubes before adding butter to the flour mixture.
Let’s talk apples now. Granny Smith is the apple of choice. It keeps its shape and gives the apple pie that tart flavor. You can make the pie using just Granny Smith apples or a combination of Granny Smith and the following: Braeburn, Rome, Jonathan, Winesap, Empire, Fuji, Pink Lady and McIntosh. I like to use Ganny Smith and Braeburn. The Breaburn is sweet and is a nice compliment to the sour Granny Smith.
Apples used in apple pie may be chopped into 1/2 inch pieces or sliced thinly or thickly.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chilled shortening
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
4-6 tbsp ice-cold water
Fill a small cup with ice cubes and water. Let sit.
Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry blender or rub in with fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not mix too much; a few pieces of butter are ok. Sprinkle with ice water, a tablespoon at a time. Stir with a fork to moisten. Gather dough into a ball. Divide in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
4-5 medium-large baking apples
3/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tbsp butter
Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices. Place in a large bowl. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and allspice; toss mixture with apples. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile roll out bottom crust. Drape over a pie plate smoothing the bottom and sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Pour apples and juice into a strainer set over a sauce pan. Let drain for 15 minutes (should have at least 1/2 cup).
Add two tablespoons butter to the pot with the apple juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until liquid has reduced slightly and mixture is syrupy and lightly caramelized; about 3-5 minutes
Roll out top crust. Remove pie plate with bottom crust from refrigerator. Spoon apples into the crust lined pie plate. Pour syrup over apples.
Drape top crust over apples. Trim edges to 1-inch below rim of pie plate. Tuck the edges under and leave as is or flute using knuckles. Cut slits in the top to vent. Brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover edges with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake 25-30 minutes until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
Add 1/4 cup raisins to filling.