For my addition to Pie Week with my blogging friends, the Theme Weavers, I humbly submit my very rustic looking apple pie.
Everyone needs to stop worrying about making a ‘perfect’ pie crust. I am always hearing that people are scared of making pies because the pastry is just too hard to do. TV chefs and bloggers alike warn about ‘over-working the dough’ as though you are going to end up with a ball of gluten if you knead the dough together a few extra times. Pastry isn’t the easiest of things to make but please stop being intimidated by the idea of making your own pies from scratch and end up with another one of those store bought pies with those manufactured pie crusts that yield a crumbly rather than flakey crust along with overly sweetened filling at Christmas or Thanksgiving. A pie is supposed to be a simple dessert that generally evokes nostalgia-laden thoughts of pastoral living. Just get on with getting the job done and don’t stress so much about all those little rules you have heard people tell you about pie dough. If you are starting to worry that there will be too many cracks or the edges of the pie just aren’t right, let the adjective, ‘rustic’, be your guide.
I follow some of the basic principles of pie making: I use cold water and cold fat, but I don’t obsess over ever detail. I’ve even seen a TV chef recommend chilling the flour. I mean, come on! It is just pie. Granted, the idiom, “as easy as pie” is certainly misleading but let go of the quest for a pie that looks good enough for Martha Stewart (her magazine, not her dreadful Twitter photos).
My pies aren’t always the prettiest to look at but the crust is always flakey and they are stuffed to the brim, and then some, with fruit. Do I sometimes swear when I make pies because the dough cracked or tore as I rolled it out? Yes, yes I do. Does the filling sometimes bubble over and start to burn on the bottom of my oven? You betcha it does! Do I swear some more? Yeppers! Does this stop me from making pies? No. Even if they collapse in the centre because the apples were piled so high (see below for an example of my collapsed pies), these pies are simply much better than anything store bought.
Here are some of my tips for an imperfectly delicious pie:
- roll the dough out between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper
- use a food processor if you have one – it will save you so much trouble
- put a piece of foil on the bottom of the oven to save you a headache later from any spillage
- brush the edges with beaten egg before putting the top layer on because it will help contain filling ooze
- don’t let the fear of an imperfect pie keep you from making one
- put a damp piece of paper towel under your board so it doesn’t slip around as you roll out the dough
- don’t chill the dough for too long, a half hour will do, because if it is too firm it is hard to roll and will likely crack around the edges. Fixable, but still a pain.
- keep the rolling pin steady with your finger as you hold the handle when the dough is rolled onto the rolling pin for transfering to the pie plate, otherwise it could spin off into a heap. If that happens you will use your whole cussing repertoire. Ask me how I know this…
A deep dish apple pie with an easy to make crust that will become your favourite.
1 hrPrep Time
1 hr, 10 Cook Time
2 hr, 10 Total Time
- 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cold lard, cubed
- 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 12 baking apples (such as Northern Spy)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (more if you like it less tart)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten for brushing
- In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, lard, salt and sugar together until you get pea sized pieces of the fat.
- Pour in the liquid all at once and pulse until the dough becomes a large ball.
- Turn it out onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball. Cut the ball in half and shape each half into a disc and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Peel and core a dozen apples. Cut each apple into eight and toss them in a large bowl with the lemon juice.
- Sprinkle over the flour, spices and sugar. Stir it all gently so that each piece of apple gets coated with the sugar and flour mixture.
- Place a large piece of parchment paper on a board or on the counter. Dust it with flour and put one of the discs of dough on it. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well.
- Put another piece of parchment paper on top and begin rolling out the dough. As the dough gets pressed out, lift off the parchment and dust with flour. Turn the dough a quarter turn and use the bottom piece of parchment to lift the dough up so you can dust the underside of the dough with flour. Use the parchment as an extension of you hands so you touch the dough as little as possible.
- When the dough is about 12"-13" in diameter, roll the dough onto the rolling pin. Unroll the dough onto your pie dish and gently fit the dough inside the dish with the excess hanging over the edge of the dish.
- Brush the edge with beaten egg and pour in the apples. Once you get the first layer of apples in, you will need to start strategically placing the rest of the apples so that you can fit the maximum amount in without the apples falling off of the mound.
- Roll the second disc of dough out the same way you did the first. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and place it over the apples and edges of the bottom layer of dough.
- Gently press the bottom and top layer of dough together. Using a knife, cut off the excess dough. Place your index fingers 1 cm (1/2") apart on the edge of the dough and push the dough up with your thumb between your two fingers. Repeat around the circumference of the pie to create a crimped edge.
- Brush the top with the beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse granulated sugar (optional).
- Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F for 50 minutes to an hour or until you hear the filling bubbling and the apples are fork tender.
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