Monday, September 6, 2010

Apple pie

Not my pie, i just borrowed this photo from wikipedia

Apple pie

Make the crust:
First, cut up 1 cup of unsalted butter into ½ inch cubes, put them in the freezer. Put two cups of all purpose flour in a big mixing bowl, Add 1 tablespoon of white sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt. This is where everybody usually goes crazy. “Why use unsalted butter and then add salt???” Because, unsalted butter also doesn’t have so much whey in it either. So, as long as you don’t also add whey, it will be different. The whey makes the pie crust less crumbly. Happy? Now, your butter has to be in the freezer for I/2 hour to get good and firm, so you can drink a beer or watch TV. You can channel surf and catch up on the news.

While you do that you can ponder about how you could have been more organized and not had to wait for the butter to cool. Good luck! I've never figured out a way.

After the butter chills, mix the flour, salt, and sugar completely. Add the cubelettes of butter. Take your pastry cuter and cut the butter into the flour. The crumbs should be about the size of a pea. If you mix it too much, throw it out and start over. Remember no more than pea-size, you don’t want to mix it too much. Too much mixing ruins the flaky. If you have to throw it out and start over, at least you get more beer and TV.

If you don’t have a pastry cutter, go get one. Some of you smarties have food processors with pastry cutter blades in them. They work better, but I don’t like to use them. The way that I figure’ good cookin’ takes getting’ your hands in it. The last time that I put my hands in a food processor, I didn’t like the results.

Now that your pastry lumps are about pea-size, it’s time to add the water. Gently sprinkle ¼ cup of ice water into the mix while cutting it in with your pastry cutter. It will look stringy and crumbly, but if you pinch it, it will stick together. When it just sticks together, divide the mix into two parts. Wrap each part into a ball, wrap them into plastic wrap. Flatten them into flattened balls, like gouda cheese. It makes it easier to roll out later. Now put them into the refrigerator overnight… By now you know that you were supposed to have started yesterday.

Good cooks always have pie dough in their refrigerators, that way they can say, “I think I’ll make a pie!” And, BOOM, they can make a pie without having to screw around with the crust for two days. I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t have pie crust in their refrigerator. I don’t even know why I don’t! It even freezes!

Now, the filling:
My Gramma Ruby always said that she would show somebody how to cook, but she would never give somebody a recipe. Most of my family are naturally good cooks, but chances are, nothing will ever be cooked the same. There are just too many variables in cooking. Some year berries are sweet, and some years they are sour. If you don’t know how to put in the right amount of sugar you can get a sour pie. Yuck!

The only thing that I can tell you for sure is that pie apples are for feeding to the pigs. The only reason that the old-timers would make pies out of pie apples is because they couldn’t be eaten any other way. Good pies need good sweet apples! A good tree ripe Delicious Apple is as good of an apple as you can get to make a pie. If you don’t have a tree, you can use boughten apples. They work, but a home grown apple is better. Good food requires good ingredients.

Take about seven apples, or enough to make a pie. Peel them, quarter them, remove the core with a paring knife. Slice them about one quarter inch thick. Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over the apples, that keeps them white and adds flavor.

Mix ¾ cup of brown sugar with ¼ cup of flour. I like dark brown sugar, because the pie is too white otherwise. I know, it seems dumb to keep the apples white with lemon juice, then make them brown with brown sugar. Well, the flavor of the lemon has to be in there. Not too much, just enough to make people notice that it’s a good pie but not enough to make it taste like lemon. If you want a lemon pie make that instead. Great flavor is subtle, so don’t get carried away! You can put up to 1 full cup of sugar, instead of just ¾ if the pie looks like it needs to be sweeter. There is no such thing as subtle when it come to sweet. I always go toward the sweet side. Besides if you are on a diet, why the heck would you be eating pies anyway?

Now, you have brown sugar and flour. Add ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, just a light sprinkle of nutmeg, I don’t know how much, but just enough so that you can’t taste it. Remember to be subtle. The subtleties are why Gramma Ruby wouldn’t give out recipes, but she was always glad to show you. Then just a little ginger. Plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the dry ingredients completely. Add the apples and stir them into the dry ingredients until they are mixed.

Take your pie crust rollout sheet, or use waxed paper, place in on a flat surface. Sprinkle the sheet with a light dusting of flour, press the dough out by hand a little bit, dust the crust dough with flour and rub your crust roller with flour. Don’t let the crust stick to the roller. Gently roll out the crust, that you had thoughtfully placed in your refrigerator yesterday. When you roll it, roll it gently in all directions from the middle to the edge. When it gets to be the right size, gently set the pie dish upside down on the crust, side your hand under the roll-out sheet and flip it right side up. (clean any loose flour away first) If you can't do that, fold the crust in half and move it to the pie dish, like sissies do. Settle the crust in the plate and trim the edges.

Place the bowlful of filling into the crust. While nobody’s looking, take another cube of unsalted butter out of the freezer and use a cheese grater to grate butter over the top of the filling. I learned that from Julia Childs. She said that nobody likes to like butter, so you sneak it in, ‘cause that’s what makes it good! Grate in about 4 tablespoons.

Brush the edges of the pie crust with a damp cloth, to get the flour off it and make the top crust stick to the bottom. Roll out the top crust in the same manner as you just did the bottom. Gently fold it over in half. Lift it up and place it on the top of the pie and unfold it. If at first you don’t succeed, feed it to the dog and make another crust. No wait! If you have disaster, you can place it back together with a few well placed crimps. When you get the top in place, seal the edges with a fork, or if you are fancy, I am, do a clever finger pinch edging.  Poke some air holes in the top with a sharp knife. Be creative! Brush any excess flour off of the top and sprinkle with WHITE sugar this time. (It’s prettier)

Bake until it’s brown and bubbly. Then place in in the window cooler for about twenty minutes. Serve warm!

For Gramma Jane’s Bear crust blackberry pie, simply replace the butter with bear fat, and the apples with blackberries. I might have stolen this apple pie recipe from her.

1 cup frozen butter ½ inch dices
2 cup flour
1 table spoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ cup water

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
ground nutmeg, to taste
ginger to taste
1/2 teaspoon of salt
7 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
I just thought that I would add that NOBODY makes better pie than Elsie Branscomb (Mom) I've asked her to give me her recipes, but she say's "Well, I'll show you, but you have to make them different everytime." She can make ANY kind of pie. I haven't gotten much past apple myself, and blackberry, and huckleberry/apple. And sweet cream apple.
But, that's another post.
By the way, you only have to chill your crust in the refrigerator for 40 minutes. I just wanted to make sure that you read this all the way to the end!

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