Practice Pie #1
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
This year, it's our turn to eat Thanksgiving with Kendell's family. My list of stuff to bring:
- rolls (of course! I'm trying to decide if I should make two batches or three---think 72 rolls are enough for 23 people? Probably?)
- butter and jam for the rolls (I have some delicious raspberry-peach jam I froze this summer!)
- green bean casserole
- plastic cups
- 2 bottles sparkling cider
- 1 apple pie
It's that last item that's giving me fits. I consider myself to be a good cook, but honestly, pie crusts are my downfall. When I try to make crust, it generally comes out too heavy---not flaky in the least. So, when I make chicken pot pie or a fruit pie on normal days, I use Marie Callendar's pre-made, frozen crust. Somehow, though, it just doesn't feel right to me, using a pre-made pie crust on a Thanksgiving apple pie. Am I being a crust snob? I'm probably being too idealistic. It's just a pie. Still, I decided I'll make some practice pies, to get my crust-making skills up to snuff.
So, last night, along with Chris's rosemary chicken and rice pilaf (which was, Nathan declared, "one of the best meals you've ever made, Mom!" huge praise from Nathan, who's right now embroiled in a super-picky phase) I made an apple pie with homemade crust. Here are the recipes:
Tricky-yet-Deliciously-Flaky-if-You-Get-It-Right Pie Crust
1 T vinegar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
2-3 T cold ice water
In a small bowl, beat the egg well. Add the vinegar, then beat again. Mix the flour and salt together in a larger bowl. Cut in the shortening. Stir in the egg mix; add enough water to make the dough stick. Makes enough dough for two crusts.
Apple Pie Filling
7 tart apples (I use a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji, because they're tart and they stay crispy; mushy apples aren't my thing)
juice of one lemon
1 cup sugar
3 T flour
1 tsp cinnamon
dash ground cloves
dash ground ginger
2 T cold (or frozen) butter
Peel, core, and slice apples. (The apple peeler/corer/slicer thing that Pampered Chef sells is invaluable for this task! It takes about three minutes to do all the apples this way; a huge bonus is you're left with all those long strings of apple peel, which my children think are the most delicious things EVER.) Sprinkle the apples with the lemon juice. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then pour over the apples. Toss until it's all combined. Pour apples into a pie pan lined with bottom crust. Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the apples. Place top crust over apples; seal edges and cut a pattern into the top (to allow steam to escape). Bake at 400 for 45 minutes.
Here's what I learned from Practice Pie #1:
- Cutting in the shortening is a fairly effective way of getting out a little frustration.
- Roll the dough out between two sheets of Saran Wrap. (I'm not certain where that idea came from, but I think it's from an episode of the old Martha Stewart TV show.)
- The bottom crust needs to be big enough to flop over the edge of the pie plate, not just reach to the edge.
- I need more Saran Wrap. In a wider size.
- Forgetting to mix the dry ingredients for the filling FIRST makes it way harder to get every apple sufficiently coated.
- If you've forgotten to buy a lemon, a sprinkling of vinegar works just as well.
- If you forget to put the butter on top of the apples, don't melt it and try to pour it into one of the steam vents. Really---you'll get a little bit down in the filling, but most of it will just spread out across the top of the pie.
- Trying to cook rosemary chicken, rice pilaf, and an apple pie all at once is not a good idea. I'm all for multi-tasking but it does tend to make you forget things.
- The filling is still delicious without butter.
- A little bit of butter spread on top of the pie makes it beautifully golden when it's finished baking.
- And, most importantly: maybe I can make a decent pie.
The apples were perfect. The crust was---nearly perfect. It flaked. It wasn't too heavy. A little bit flakier and it would have been perfect. I see more practice pies in my future; I think I'll make chicken pot pie on Wednesday. Maybe I'll learn enough with practice to finally get to apple-pie-utter-perfection?
Oh, amy, it sounds wonderful! I am thinking about trying the pie this year. I need to find a pastry cutter; they don't sell them at Target, go figure!
Posted by: becky | Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 11:21 AM
I especially like the comments at the end....to tell the "real" story! I'm not a pie maker either...but I'm telling you, you can't beat Marie's. I wouldn't feel guilty at all! I even like the Pillsbury, premade crust you just pop in the pan. I can't wait to try your chicken! Sounds fabulous. My cooking rule is this: you can make it a hundred times perfectly at home. Everyday. Then, you make it for a larger gathering or a special occasion and EVERYTHING will go wrong. Don't forget the salt in the rolls. That's what I do. Especially if I'm taking them to someone.....And don't you love all those yummy spices...allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon,cloves...it's Fall! It's Fall! It's Fall! It's the best!
Posted by: Amazed | Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 11:39 AM
Good for you! I have to make a pie for our family too. I decided to do chocolate cream pie, know a good recipie? P.S. I would like to hear your thoughts on Glenn and all that followed, if you have time. (You can just send an e-mail if you would like) Thanks and good luck with the pie crust adventure! :) love ya!
Posted by: Kayci Bitton | Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 01:01 PM
I love number 7.
I don't know if I'm really a pie crust snob, because I'll eat and enjoy just about anything. :) However, I have ALWAYS wanted to make fabulous pie crusts. I try every once in a while, and came close earlier this year. Now that I'm really trying to go trans-fats-free, it's next to impossible without the shortening.
I may have to try this recipe anyway. It sounds delicious!
Posted by: Wendy | Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 04:36 PM
I made three pies last week -- two with the premade flat pieces in the refrigerator section and one homemade. I am just going to have to stick with the refrigerator kind. I add lemon & orange juice & lemon & orange zest to the inside of the pie -- it makes it super tart & perfect with ice cream.
Posted by: jenna | Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 01:36 PM
I used a food processor to mix my pie crust when I did it, with good results. My sister thinks that doing it by hand is better, though. Also, when I made the crust the bottom was too tough, yet the top was flaky because I rolled out the bottom just a tiny bit more. Pastries are a tricky thing.
I tried out recipe that just used butter, not shortening. Not as good as flavor, but it did make a decent pie crust.
Posted by: hwalk | Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 09:00 AM