Sunday, November 29, 2009

When Bad Things Happen to Good Pies...

Thanksgiving and pies go hand in hand. This Thanksgiving I had hand in pie. It looked a little more like a face imprint, but it was indeed my oven mitt covered hand! As I was taking the pie out of the oven, there was a slip....I was glad I made 2 pumpkin pies as well as an apple pie. Friends started lamenting their own pie stories from meringue toppings that didn't brown beautifully under the broiler, but burned organic pumpkin pie lovingly prepared and baked, but taking 2 hours in the oven to set which ruined the crust. Then there was the pecan pie that needed a chain saw to cut it and a pumpkin pie made by twin sisters that dropped on the airport floor as they ran to catch their flight home. But home baked pies, no matter their blunders, are far more appreciated than their store bought, cardboard sisters! They are full of love and personality, and with luck they are beautiful and tasty as well. Over the years I've experimented with traditional pumpkin pie recipes and have come back to Libby's pie filling and recipe. It is just no fail. This year I decorated the top with pumpkin shapes and vines. Whole cloves are perfect pumpkin stems.My apple pie recipe is one that I tweaked a lot of years ago and make it without deviation. I pile the cinnamon and nutmeg spiced apples mile high for a lush apple filling. My family loves it warm from the oven with a scoop of pure vanilla ice cream. It just doesn't get much better.

Mile High Apple Pie

8 medium apples*, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoon raisins soaked in
1 tablespoon brandy, until plump

*I used mainly Granny Smith apples for their firmness and sweet/ tart flavor and Fuji and Macintosh to round out the taste.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll chilled pie dough, between 2 sheets of plastic wrap (to prevent sticking), into two 12 inch rounds. Place dough into a 9 inch pie pan, letting excess to hang over the sides.

In a large bowl, mix apples, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and flour. Add optional nuts and raisins and stir. Spoon into the prepared pie pan, dot with butter and cover with a top layer of pie crust. Trim the crust evenly along the edge of the pie. Seal edges together. Flute the edges or finish with a decorative edge*. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about an hour, until crust is golden brown and apples are cooked and juicy. Check after half an hour to make sure it is not browning too quickly. If it is, loosely cover with aluminum foil for the remaining time. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Eight servings

*To make a decorative crust edge, cut out small leaves with a pastry cutter. Moisten the edges of the pie and place the small pastry leaves all around the edge, slightly overlapping. Keep the pastry from drying out by covering it loosely with damp paper towels as you work.

Pate Brisee (Pie Crust)
adapted from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 8 ounce stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
6 tablespoons ice water (approximately)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 8-10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water, a little at a time, in a slow steady stream through the feed tube. Depending on the humidity, less or more water may be needed. Pulse until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky, being careful not to process more than 30 seconds. Overworking the dough will make it tough. To test, squeeze a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add more ice water, a little at a time. Shape the dough into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Dough may be stored, frozen for up to one month.

Makes two layers of pie crust.

Mile High Apple Pie recipe (pdf)

Pate Brisee
(Pie Crust) recipe (pdf)

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