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Apple Pie Adventure!

May 4, 2010

One fine day during the fall of 2009, Megan, Ken, Jeff, Cole and I took a trip to Homestead Orchard in Woodstock, IL. It was the perfect day to go apple picking and we had a fantastic time. There is something truly wonderful about going to an apple orchard in the height of apple picking season and enjoying the good company of your friends in the cool, crisp weather. And their apples were wonderful. We walked up and down the rows of trees picking out the most perfect apples, because we had big plans for them. We were going to go home and make some delicious apple pie. So we filled our baskets (eating a couple here and there), payed for our apples and went to Woodman’s to gather our supplies for the recipes that we had decided on. The resulting pie was probably one of the desserts that really started my love of cooking.

This was the best apple pie I have ever eaten. Seriously. I wish it was a more recent recipe and I could tell you more about the specifics, but it was ungodly good. I think that there is something to be said for appreciating the craftsmanship of yourself and your friends though, because if someone else had made that pie, it might not be the best pie I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know. It’s debatable. It was pretty good.

Unfortunately, it was a long time ago that we made that pie. All I have now is the picture and the memory of how amazing it was, and some very vague recollections of what recipes we used to put them together. A long lost love. What a bummer.

I hope to make this pie again someday, and maybe I’ll increase my pie making prowess between now and the next apple season, but for now, I’ll try to list down what I remember us using for these miraculous pies.

For the sake of convenience, and because upon really looking at the recipes and trying to remember if we used them, I think I have settled on listing Paula Deen’s recipes as what we had used. I think it might have been a different pie crust recipe, because I remember being shocked at the amount of butter that was called for. I’m sure that anything dessert related that Paula Deen makes would have our stamp of approval though. She does have a way with sugar and butter.

Paula’s Apple Pie Filling:

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 7 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Paula’s Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
  • Paula’s Crunch Topping, recipe follows

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. In another bowl, sprinkle apples with the juice of 1 lemon and toss. Stir in the sugar mixture to evenly coat the apples.

Set aside. Roll out chilled dough into 2 circles and use 1 round to line a 9-inch pie pan. Chill the other round.

Mound the apple and sugar mixture into the pie pan lined with dough. Dot with the cubed butter.

Using a pastry cutter, cut an even number of strips from the remaining rolled out dough. Transfer every other strip to the pie top and weave in the lattice by folding every other strip back onto itself and laying another strip perpendicularly. Fold the strips back across and repeat until completed.

Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Trim the overhanging dough and crimp edges.

Bake pie for 45 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

Paula’s Crunch Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

For crunch topping, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of crust.

Paula’s Perfect Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup ice water

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and break it up with your hands as you start to coat it all up with the flour. Add the cold butter cubes and work it into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter. Work it quickly, so the butter doesn’t get too soft, until the mixture is crumbly, like very coarse cornmeal. Add the ice water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together forming a dough. Bring the dough together into a ball.

When it comes together stop working it otherwise the dough will get over-worked and tough. Divide the dough in half and flatten it slightly to form a disk shape. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. On a floured surface roll each disk out into a 10 to 11-inch circle to make a 9-inch pie.

Yield: 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

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