Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Culinary Chronicles: Classic Apple Pie

On Sunday we picked apples at our neighbor's house.  I think they are Granny Smiths.  [edited to say, no!! I think they are Golden Delicious.  They aren't tart like Granny Smiths.]  Since we still haven't eaten all the apple sauce or apple butter that we canned last year, I thought I'd make some apple pies.  I baked one today, and plan to freeze a few more.  I took this opportunity to try another recipe from yesterday's vintage kitchen cookbook, "learn to bake--You'll Love it!".  I had enough pie dough left to make a little four-inch pie too.  It'll be a perfect little present for a friend.

Both recipes transcribed with minimal annotations from "learn to bake-- You'll Love it!", General Mills Corp., ©1947.
(notes original to recipe) [my notes]

Pie Shell (Plain Pastry)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tbsp. lard or vegetable shortening [I used butter]
2 1/2 Tbsp. cold water (about)

Sift flour once, measure, add salt, and sift together into bowl.  Cut in 4 tablespoons shortening very thoroughly, using light strokes of blender or two knives.  (Mixture should first become fluffy and fine like meal, then start to clump together).  Add remaining 2 tablespoons shortening in several pieces and chop in lightly just until divided into pieces that are the size of large peas.  Sprinkle in water, a small amount at a time, mixing lightly with blender or fork.  When all particles are moistened, press pastry into a cake, cover with damp cloth, and let stand 15 to 30 minutes.  Roll out on lightly floured as directed by pie recipe.

Grand Apple Pie
Pastry (double recipe Pie Shell)
2/3 cup sugar [I reduced it to 1/2 cup]
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 to 6 tart apples, thinly sliced (5 cups)
1 Tbsp. butter

Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of pastry, rolled 1/8-inch thick.  Trim even with edge of pan.  (Do not prick pastry).  Mix sugar, salt, and spices; sprinkle half of mixture on pie shell.  Add apples and remaining sugar mixture.  Dot with butter.  (If apples lack tartness add 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and a bit of grated rind).  For top crust, roll other half of pastry 1/8-inch thick, fold in half and cut several slits near fold for escape of steam during baking.  Moisten edge of the bottom crust with water.  Adjust folded crust on filled pie, opening out folded half and drawing crust carefully across top.  Trim off surplus pastry with knife; flute rim to press crusts together.  Bake in a hot oven (425° F) 50 minutes, or until filling and crust are done.

I haven't tasted the pie yet, but they smell divine.  The pastry was really easy to work with.  I mixed it using my food processor, which I think makes it (the mixing) go faster, thus leaving the ingredients colder, which is supposed to make for a better crust, right?  I brushed the top with milk and sprinkled on a little more sugar for sparkle.  That's a trick learned from one of our old neighbors who was definitely a master pie baker.  Anyone consider themselves a really good pie baker?  Making this crust several times will also help me accomplish one of my yearly food resolutions, this year to perfect a pie crust and make croissants.


  1. They look delicious, Sasha! Whoever gets given the little pie will be a very lucky friend.

    I have never made pastry (and so have never baked a pie). I think I might have to give it a whirl this weekend. I'm planning a day of cookery on Saturday, with jam-making on the agenda.

  2. I usually laze out and use a bottom crust from the grocery store and then make a crumble crust for the top, but I want to make a better effort-- thus learning to make the crust. This crust was easy and tastes really good.

    I hope you post pics of your elderberry jam making. I don't really know what elderberries are.