Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apple Pie & Fourth of July

What a great weekend - time spent lakeside, parades, fireworks that were kind of a bust, but not totally, and one of the best apple pies I've ever made.

Let's skip all the mundane details and get right to the important part - the PIE. (If you are not interested in pie, skip to the end of this post for pictures of adorable children). I will give you a very loose recipe, because (and I will be blunt here) - I fucked it up. Actually, I fucked it up and then SAVED IT, and I think the saving it is what made it so good. I'll have to see if I'm able to duplicate the results.

It starts simply enough.
5 or so medium apples (I had Pink Ladies, so that's what I used), peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 C white sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t nutmeg

Mix apples and spices in a large bowl. In a big skillet, melt 1/2 stick of butter and add apples. Cook over medium heat until tender but still firm, about 10 minutes.

WAIT A MINUTE! you say. Cook the apples? Before you put them in the pie? Yes! Here's why: Have you ever made an apple pie, and piled your apples up in the crust and they look super yummy, and you put the top crust on and put it in the oven and it looks fabulous when you take it out. But when you cut into it, you have a giant air pocket in between crust and filling? Because your apples have cooked down and your crust has stayed up! Cooking the apples first completely eliminates this problem. Nothing comes between my pie crust and my filling!

Put your bottom crust in your pie plate, then, using a slotted spoon, remove the apples from the skillet and put them in the pie plate. Make a slurry of a little cornstarch and water, then add to the remaining butter in the pan to thicken.

This is where I screwed up. I made it way too thick, so I needed to thin it out with some apple juice. Then it was too cornstarch-y, so I added some brown sugar. Then it was too sweet, so I added another pinch of cinnamon and a tiny bit of salt. Then it was PERFECT. So, experiment a little bit. Get it nice and syrupy and when it tastes awesome, pour about 1/2 C of the syrup over the apples.

Top with the other half of your crust, roll and flute or crimp edges, brush with beaten egg white, then sprinkle the whole top with turbinado sugar. Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before cutting.

And now, my equally delicious children (the husband bought me a flash for my camera as an anniversary gift, and I am still getting in the habit of turning it off and on, so the pictures aren't the best):
Henry at the lake.

Julia on her prize winning entry into the neighborhood 4th of July Parade.
Katie, riding Julia's bike. Too cool to decorate her own bike, just dorky enough to ride the 4 year old's princess bike down the street.

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