Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Date Cooked: January 1, 2010
My last recipe from the book that advanced my project was cooked at the end of November which means I didn’t work toward my project at all in December! I won’t lie, I was a bit disappointed with myself but December is a very busy month for my family so I didn’t beat myself up over it. But come January 1st I was itching to get back into it and I have been obsessing over baking a pie. It is a chapter that I have not tried anything from since I started this project and this was my first attempt at baking a pie from scratch… ever. You can look at the photo to see how it turned out.
Now executing this recipe was not easy and since I had never baked a pie before I was treading on some uncertain territory. Until the beginning of December I didn’t even own pie plates. So I now had the basic equipment required and the ingredients assembled… well not quite. The primary ingredient was a bit of a scavenger hunt. Trying to find apples New Year’s Day is not exactly simple. You see I had bought a bunch of apples for this recipe a few days earlier and my kids like apples. So when it was time to bake I realized that I was short 3 of 8 apples. I was determined to start the new year with this apple pie! So out into the snowy streets I go trying to find a convenience store that sells produce. It is interesting that produce is so hard to find in our society of simple and convenient. I ended up at a gas station across town with three apples in my hands, expensive ones I might add. I know people buy weird things all the time but who buys three apples from a gas station on New Year’s Day. Anyway back home I drove with my prize.
Now let me step back in time for a moment and talk about making the Basic Pie Dough. I made this in the morning in anticipation of baking the pie. I mixed flour, salt and sugar in my food processor and then cut in chilled shortening. I then cut in chilled butter and mixed everything with ice water until a nice dough was formed. I separated into two balls, wrapped and refrigerated. This was surprisingly easy but I was uncertain about the dough consistency. I added water until the dough came together but it took a little additional water to get to that point and even then I was not certain I had achieved my goals. I was concerned that the dough was going to break apart when I tried to roll it later. Anyway since I didn’t really know what I was doing I followed the recipe and moved on.
Let’s jump forward again to the point after my apple hunting excursion. I rolled out the first ball of dough with a little difficulty (I need a proper rolling pin). At this point I noticed that the shortening and butter had not been sufficiently cut into the dry ingredients because I had large pieces of fat scattered throughout my nicely rolled pie dough. I transferred this to the pie plate and placed it in the fridge to chill. Now I started the tedious task of peeling and coring apples. The apple pieces were then tossed with lemon zest and juice, a generous amount of sugar, some flour and cinnamon. This was transferred to the pie plate and then I rolled out the second piece to cover.
My wife and I were laughing at the volume of apples in the pie. I didn’t even think the pie dough would cover the apples but it did. After pinching the two pieces of dough together around the edge and sealing it with a fork I brushed the pie with an egg white and sprinkled with sugar. I was impressed with the way it looked and I hadn’t even added it to the oven. The cooking temperature interested me as the oven starts out at 500 and once the pie goes in gets turned down to 425. Halfway through baking it gets turned down again to 375. The house smelled great while it was cooking and the finished result looked beautiful! But I had to wait overnight for the pie to cool to room temperature! Actually only four hours but I didn’t want to stay up to eat pie, my son played hockey at 6:30am the next morning.
Rating: A+. Wow! I like to think I am a modest person but I absolutely delivered on this one. The pie looked amazing with it’s huge pie dome and nicely browned crust. I carefully cut into it to find that the apples were soft but not mushy. The smell was amazing and the taste was everything I love about a good apple pie. It tasted like apples and cinnamon, not apple flavored sugar syrup. My only complaints were that there was a little too much liquid in the pie and the large pieces of shortening and butter in the crust left small holes in a few places once the fat melted. All in all a great success to start off 2010!