Apple Pie! and outsourcing! (I’ll explain.)
For the previously discussed Mad Men party, I wanted to make a quintessentially 60’s dessert. But you know what? I looked up some recipes from the sixties and there was just way too much jello involved. I’m not into jello, you guys. It’s so. . . wiggly.
So then I decided that instead of focusing on the 60’s specifically, I’d think about classic ‘Merican dessert. And that led me straight to apple pie. There’s something so great about pie. To quote Jim Gaffigan, it’s liquid cake. It’s flakey and gooey and crunchy and warm and just amazing.
But remember when I said this post was as American as outsourcing? I’m going to let you guys in on my dirty little secret:
I know, I know. Homemade pie crust is a thing of beauty. It’s flakey and buttery and magical. It becomes as important as the filling and can be enjoyed on it’s own for hours of crusty goodness. But you know what? It is a super pain to make. You have to refrigerate, and cut in butter, and mix, and shape, and it takes twice as long as any other part of making the pie. So if you have literally anything else to do that day, forget it. You’re making pie crust. The end.
Refrigerated pie crust, aside from taking literally 1/36th of the time that real pie crust takes, is not a bad solution at all. Sure it’s a little less rich and buttery, and the flavor profile lacks some depth. But you know what? This is America, and we can totally cover that up. If you make a good pie filling, and get a little creative with doctoring up your top layer of pie crust, literally no one will know the difference. As this pie was being eaten, my friend specifically complimented me on the crust. BOOM. So don’t let baking snobbery keep you from making pie with frozen crust, because then you’re just denying yourself awesome pie.
In terms of a recipe, I sort of winged it on this. I did wander over to smitten kitchen to get a sense of things like, how many apples are the right number of apples for a pie, but other than that I sort of just played things by ear.
3 Granny Smith Apples (medium to large)
3 or 4 Red Apples (Macintosh are usually good, but anything to kind of contrast the tartness of the granny smiths will work)
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
1/2 to 1 tbsp. Vanilla
3/4 cups + 1 tbsp. Sugar
2 tbsp. Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon (give or take)
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Allspice
1 Egg White, Lightly Beaten
2 Refrigerated Pie Crusts
Set your oven to 500 degrees. I know that’s hot, but you’ll lower it as soon as you put in the pie.
1. Peel your apples. Then cut them up. I feel like you can have a lot of lee way in terms of how big of slices you want. I like my apple chunks a little bigger, about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch.
2. Toss apple slices with lemon juice and vanilla. Most recipes don’t call for vanilla, but it’s something I add as my little secret ingredient. I think it just adds warmth and depth to the pie. It’s amazing. Seriously, give it a try.
3. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a separate bowl, then mix it in with the apples.
4. Place one of the refrigerated pie crusts in the bottom of a pie plate. you want to push down around the edges to makes sure it’s even and flat. Then pile the apple mixture in, concentrating on the middle of the pie.
5. Here’s where I decided to get a little fancy. Lay out the second pie crust and use a small cookie cutter to cut decorations into your pie crust. I used a small heart shaped cutter, and cut out four hearts around the edge. It looks fancy, it creates ventilation, which is necessary in a pie, and it’s fun!
6. Carefully arrange the pie crust on top of your apple mixture. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the crust together. If you want, you can also arrange one of the cut out pieces of dough in the center of the pie.
7. Take the beaten egg white and brush it on the top of the pie. Sprinkle the remaining tsp. of sugar on top of the crust. This creates a nice golden crispyness to the crust.
8. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and put in your pie. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust starts to look golden. Then rotate the pie, lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 30-35 minutes, until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices start bubbling.
This is a really easy recipe to make. It’s not super messy and, other than the bake time, it doesn’t take that long. And in the end, you have super delicious pie. Everyone wins!