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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Apples, peaches, pumpkin pie, Who's not ready, holler "I".

Apples, peaches, pumpkin pie, Who's not ready, holler "I". Memories of a childhood game and playing hide and seek in the apple orchard can lead to other memories such as, picking and eating the apples while we played in the woods.

Fall is in the air, there are a ton of apples just right for the picking, and my house is filled with the smell of apple pie and apple crisp cooking. Even the puppy keeps sniffing the air to find where the wonderful aroma is coming from.

Growing up, I never liked apple pie. I liked my apples fresh and crisp, preferably just picked off the tree. Nothing like picking them yourself and wiping one in your flannel shirt to shine it up, all pretty, just before biting into it.  Even though I never cared for apple pie I still enjoyed making them. A lot of people stress over all of the steps it takes, but into today’s world there a ton of wonderful gadgets to make the task much easier. I start by using my apple, peeler, corer purchased from Pampered Chef (although they can be purchased elsewhere). As I am peeling, coring and slicing I put the apples into a cold water bath with ice and lemon juice (it helps to keep their natural white color. Like potatoes apples can turn a rusty color once they are peeled). For this recipe you need 6 good sized apples. By all means if you don’t have the gadget to do this feel free to do it the old fashioned way, by hand and knife.

While the apples are soaking in the bath, I then mix my crust in the food processor (mine is a Cuisinart, but use what you like, including but not limited to mixing by hand). Nothing could be simpler. I have found that the food processer is the secret magic trick for making homemade pasta and dough’s. Both pasta and dough tend to need cold water added by the tablespoon and when using the food processor you can tell when the dough is just right because it goes from the cornmeal stage to the dough ball stage in a hurry and that is when you know the dough is just right one tablespoon at a time. Whir it up and place in plastic wrap until it is chilled and ready roll out. This recipe calls for one pie crust as I made a crumb topping for the top.

Classic Crisco Pie Crust
1 1/3 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ stick well-chilled Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening Sticks OR 1/2 cup well-chilled Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Blend flour and salt in medium mixing bowl. Cut chilled shortening into 1/2-inch cubes. Cut in chilled shortening cubes into flour mixture, using a pastry blender, in an up and down chopping motion, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining. Sprinkle half the maximum recommended amount of ice-cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top, distributing moisture evenly into flour. Press chunks down to bottom of bowl with fork. Add more water by the tablespoon, until dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.

TIP: Test dough for proper moistness by squeezing a marble-sized ball of dough in your hand. If it holds together firmly, do not add any additional water. If the dough crumbles, add more water by the tablespoonful, until dough is moist enough to form a smooth ball when pressed together.

Shape dough into a ball for single piecrust. Flatten ball into 1/2-inch thick round disk.

TIPS: For ease in rolling, wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Crumb Topping
½ cup very cold butter cut into small chunks
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup all purpose flour
Optional: You can add 1/4 cup of oatmeal but you will need to omit 1/4 cup flour

I also make the crumb topping in the food processer. Takes only the time to pour the ingredients in and to maybe 30 seconds to whir it all together to the cornmeal stage. However, if you don't have a processor you can to it by hand with a fork or pastry cutter. Set aside.
The next step is making the yummy, delicious, cinnamon, coating for the apples. Take the apples out of the bath, cut in half and place the slices into a clean bowl.

Apple Filling
6-7 pie apples (on the tart and crisp side)
Juice from one orange (about 2 ounces)
1tsp. lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the peeled and sliced apples in a large bowl. Add the orange and lemon juice. Toss to coat the apples with the juice. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.

Drain the excess juice from the apples. Pour the sugar mixture over the apples and toss to coat the apples.

Assembling the entire Pie
Time to assemble that pie. For rolling out the crust, I use one of those rubber mats or a Sil Pat. Why? For two reasons: the first reason is you will need less flour for rolling out the dough. Two, I don’t have to pick up the pie crust with the rolling pin. I set the pie plate/pan on top, slide my hand under the mat and flip. Waaalaaa! Pie crust in the pan, no breaking. How easy is that? 

Trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold edge under. Flute dough as desired.

Arrange the coated apples in unbaked piecrust. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the apples. Place pie onto foil lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and apples are tender. Check pie half way through the baking time and cover the edges of the crust with foil if necessary to prevent burning.

Remove from oven and let cool until warm to touch this will allow any juices to settle into the apples.

Serve with your favorite from the following list: vanilla ice cream, whip cream, cheddar cheese (yes believe it or not it pairs well with apple pie).
Enjoy! I know you will be making this recipe again. Everyone who ate a piece of it here can’t wait for next one. You can also use this filling for an apple crisp or to top ice cream. My next stint is to can some for use later on.

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