Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Best Thing

Carl Sagan said “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe..”

 First, the crust.  You’ll need two crusts.  I make this recipe twice.  It’s easier to handle and separate.  Here goes:
            11/2 cups flour
            ½ tsp salt

Blend the salt and flour.

Add  1 cup  8 oz. of room temperature shortening.  Or a blend of butter and shortening. You might want the butter for flavor, but the shortening creates the right texture.
You cut the fats into the flour by using two kitchen knives.  You pull them across the mixture again and again, crossing the knives, which cuts the shortening into the flour,  until the mixture resembles coarse sand and all of the fat is blended.  You can do this task in a food processor, it’s way faster.  But you get a much flakier texture if you use the knives.  Add 6 tablespoons of water.  Form the dough into a ball. one for each recipe and refrigerate them at least an hour, and maybe over night. 

 Since we already have a universe, an easier approach is to hit the fruit stand.  You need 6-8 large apples or 8-10 medium ones.  I love Pink Ladies or Honey Crisps because they
are spectacularly juicy, and sweet and tart both, and they are easier to get in the Pacific Northwest.  Choose one you like that is raised close to you.  You want apples that are firm and fresh.  Peel, core, and slice them.  Make sure  you add the juice of one lemon and stir the apple  slices often. 

Add ½ cup of white sugar, and ½ cup of brown sugar.  2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch, 2 tsp of cinnamon, ½ tsp of ground ginger. and ½ tsp of cloves, more of the spices. if you like.  These amounts are pretty subtle, perfect for kids.  Dr. Oz thinks they are great ånti-inflammatories, which makes the apple pie a health food, in case you were wondering.  Put the sugars, cornstarch, and spices over the apples and stir them so the sugars, cornstarch and spices are evenly distributed. 

Roll out the bottom crust to about a ¼ inch thickness,, drape it over a deep-dish apple pie plate.  Make sure the crust is shaped to the plate, and trim off the extra.  Put in the apples and spread them around the bottom crust.  Don’t worry if they are a little higher than the plate, they cook down during the baking.    Roll out the top crust  and put it  on top of the apples.  Trim the crust, leaving about ½ inch hanging over the edges.  Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust.  Crimp the edges of the pie with a fork, which seals the pie and keep the juices inside, which is where you want them.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slide in a cookie sheet.  Make a wash of 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon of water.  Whisk.  Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the pie with the egg wash.  Cut in three vents into the pie.  Top off the pie with sugar, sprinkled over the top of the pie.  Mix in a little cinnamon if wish. 

Bake it on top of the cookie sheet in the pre-heated over for an hour.  Towards the end of the baking time, check for the doneness of the apples.  Put a fork through the vents and if the apples are tender, you are done.  If the apples are still hard, put some tin foil over the top of the pie to keep it from burning, and bake the pie, checking every  15 minutes.

Pull the pie from the over and let it cool for several hours.  Enjoy the scents while you wait.  We serve this on Dad's Day, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  A family tradition now.


  1. I know you had to kitchen test this before publication:-) I'd be happy to be the "tester" on the next recipe.

  2. This sounds wonderful, Barb! I've always been intimidated by pie crust but you make it sound like something I can tackle!

  3. Oh, Becca. You can absolutely do it. I learned when I was 14; it was the 2 knives to cut in the crust that made it pop. You're a great cook already. B.