Ugly Apple Pie

dsc_1549RECIPE #329, DAY #521

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Twelve-Apple Pie for Twelve People” and “Darlene Schultz’s Pie Pastry” from Bert Greene’s Kitchen (by Bert Greene, my favorite)*

TIMING: You can draw it out for hours or even days, but if you kept the process going it would be about 3 hours

DIFFICULTY: Not quite sure how “easy as pie” ever became an expression. It takes experience and knowledge, for sure

TOOLS: Extra deep pie plate, throw-away baking sheet,dough cutter, plastic wrap, crust protector, pie bird, etc.

COOK TYPE: Oven, baking

HEALTH: Pie. Fruit. You win some, you lose some.

img_0287

EXPERIENCE: Poor, ugly apple pie. It ran face-first into the top of the oven on the way out. Ouch! Also, I encountered one of the most difficult things about making fruit pies: a soggy bottom. Double ouch! I have a feeling it might have been me under-baking it (since I can’t imagine it’s Bert Greene’s fault. (He is the best cookbook writer, ever.) It was a gelling issue. (You know, when the apples break down something had to happen to all that liquid.) But the sludge that went into the crust seemed amazing. So.

On the other hand, while every one still seemed to think the pie was good (despite its bottom), no one was swooning over it. Which is what I wanted. A swoon.

My husband loves apple pie, so I never get through the fall without making a couple. Therefore, I have an apple pie story.

When my daughter was already in school and my son with just a toddler, I once accidentally locked him in the car as I was walking around to get in myself. Inside the car sat my keys, my phone, my purse… and my son. The house was already locked up and there was no one home, no spare key to use. So, quickly (although the temperature was nice and cool, so I didn’t have overheating or freezing to worry about, at least), I ran to my neighbor’s house. He was not home. So I ran across the street to another neighbor, who was elderly and often kept an eye on the neighborhood. He also was not home, but his reclusive wife peeked her eye through the crack in the door and asked what I wanted.

I explained that I was  neighbor, I had locked my toddler in my car, and that I just needed to use a phone to call my husband so that he could arrange a locksmith or come save me himself. She disappeared, then pushed her cordless home phone out through the crack. I dialed, I got hold of my husband, and he arranged to come help me. I handed the phone back, said thanks, and ran back across the street where I spent the next 1/2 hour or so doing hand puppets and goofy faces through the back window of the car. (It worked almost the whole time.)

That week, as a thank you to the woman across the street, I decided to bake her an apple pie. Apple pies are large affairs, especially when you have small children, but I was really grateful and wanted to be neighborly (even though we had lived there several years already). I spent all morning making the pie, then set it out on the dining room table to cool.

Flash forward to about a week later, and I was talking to the neighbor’s husband–the watchful one–when he suddenly said, “You better watch out! There are robbers canvassing our neighborhood!”

“Oh really?” I asked, indeed alarmed.

“Yes. A suspicious woman accosted my wife at the door last week, telling some story about needing to use the phone because she locked a kid in a car. What kind of person locks a kid in the car at 9 in the morning? This woman did not belong here. She was trying to see in our house.”

Really?!?

I was so shocked and amused (not to mention that I can be socially awkward) that I stifled my laughter, quickly finished the conversation, and went home to laugh it out. I was kind of relieved that a week earlier, in the afternoon, I had walked into the dining room to find my 2-year-old son under the table, eating the neighbor’s apple pie with his chubby little fingers. I never baked her another one.

img_0285NOTES: I can never get all the apples into a pie that the recipe calls for. Even piled up, I only got 10 or 11 into this one. One of these days I’m just going to go for it.

It is imperative that you use a throw-away baking sheet on which to bake fruit pies. In the instance that your pie leaks (which is always likely), you will ruin any dishes (or your oven) which are underneath, even possibly around the foil you lined it with. You can always re-use the throw-away pan if you do avert disaster.

I am also wondering if my pie bird would have helped me with this pie. Next time, I think I shall try it.

The apricot is not readily distinguished in this pie: it reads more as sweet and orange (with the orange).

***

  1. Sift (or whisk) together 2 cups all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup lard or non-hydrogenated shortening and 1/2 cup unsalted butter until crumbs resemble cornmeal and corn kernels.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together with a fork 1 egg, 1 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons ice cold water. With your dough cutter or a fork, work the mixture into the flour but just until combined. (It must create a ball. If it doesn’t add just enough ice cold water to do so.)
  3. Form the dough into 2 disks, then rub them with a little flour and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, combine 6 ounces dried apricots, 1 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons orange zest. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and stop stirring. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Set aside to cool.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, place 2 tablespoons all purpose flour. Set that aside.
  7. Remove one of your dough discs from the fridge. On a clean, flat, floured surface, roll it out large enough to cover an extra-deep pie plate. Set the dough into the pie plate, smooth, and trim the edges.
  8. Preheat oven to 425F.
  9. Peel and slice (about 1/2 inch thick) 12 Granny Smith apples. As you cut, place them in the mixing bowl, then toss with the flour. Add 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Work as quickly as possible.
  10. Rather quickly, using an immersion blender (or very carefully, a regular blender), blend the apricot mixture until almost smooth. Add this to the apples and toss to coat.
  11. Dump all the apple mixture into the pie dough. (It will mound high.) Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into a small dice. Set aside.
  12. Remove your other dough disc from the fridge. On a clean, flat, floured surface, roll it out large enough to cover the top of the pie and form a crust. Set the dough on the pie, gather edges into a crust (sealing it), and do your crust decorating thing. Cut 4 slits in the top.
  13. With 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water, brush the top of the pie and crust. Place the pie on a throw-away baking sheet.
  14. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake for another 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown and pie is done all the way through. Cover crust if pie edges look like they’re going to get too done.

***

Serve with vanilla ice cream and coffee, just as you’re coming out of your Thanksgiving feast-football coma or pretty much any time in the fall.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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