Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pie is happiness. Pie is love.


If you've been a reader of my blog for any amount of time, you'll know I'm all about nutrition.  I've gone on and on about the benefits of raw dairy, organic whole grains (and grinding your own flour), fresh produce, healthy fats, grass fed beef, as well as the virtues of sprouting, souring, and fermenting.  

And if you've been a reader of my blog for any amount of time, you'll also know that I'm obsessed passionate about croissants and pie.  And in particular, those completely devoid of any whole grains whatsoever and made from quite unhealthy fats. 

Yes, it's a bit reckless.  It's definitely hypocritical.  But they just taste so stinkin' good, you know?  And, in an effort to keep my life, ahem, "balanced" (Yeah, that's it) I feel that they are quite needful.  (Convinced? Me neither.)

Anyways, today I would like to talk pie.  Because pie is just a wonderful thing, and we all know it.  Pie is happiness.  Pie is love.

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I've always struggled to make a good apple pie.  Awhile back I tried this one and it was fairly good.  Don't get me wrong.  I make a MEAN pie crust.  But, it was the apples... they would either be rubbery or crunchy when the crust was done.  And there would always be this unsightly pool of liquid when I cut the pie. I just couldn't master it.

Then, I stumbled upon this recipe by Paula Deen. I'm not a big Paula fan and I don't think I've ever made one of her recipes before.  But it looked interesting so I decided to give it a try.   It was so easy to make and turned out quite nice.  It definitely was a beautiful looking pie and the apples were cooked just right.  I was happy with it! 


For goodness' sake, PLEASE get your pie crust down.   

It's a basic life skill and one that can actually win you a husband.  And if you already have a husband, I promise you that you will make him cry.  And fall at your feet.  (I'm speaking from experience here, people.)

I have always used and loved Susan Branch's pie crust recipe. It's simple and foolproof IF you do it right.

RECIPE:
1 pie crust:  1 1/2 cups AP flour, 3/4 tsp. sea salt, 3/4 cup Crisco (chilled), ice water
2 pie crusts:  3 cups AP flour, 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 1 1/2 cups Crisco (chilled), ice water

*e-wife's FAQ on pie crust:

-No, do not use "butter flavor" Crisco.  "Butter flavor" is a nasty thing. And shortening is already nasty enough on its own.  Just use the kind in the blue can please and make sure it's refrigerated. 
-Yes, I have tried Spectrum organic palm oil shortening and NO it does not taste as good. 
-Yes, I have tried making the crust with part or all butter and it is not as flaky.
 
Conclusion: Just use regular Crisco if you want a good pie crust. 

To make the pie crust, simply mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in Crisco with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas.   Slowly stir in ice water with a fork until the mixture sticks together.  How much water?  It's an experience thing. Not too much so that it's gummy.  Not too little so that it doesn't stick in a ball.     Stir and handle the pie dough as LITTLE as possible to get the job done.  Form the dough into a ball  (if you are making two crusts, divide into two balls).  Place the dough on a well-floured board and flatten to a round disk with your hands.

Now with well-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 12-14", depending on your pie plate (you want a little overlap).  Fold it in half, then in half again, and carefully unfold over your pie plate.  Gently press into place, crimping the edges if you like. 

Here are two great recipes for the pie crust.

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PAULA DEEN’S CRUNCH TOP APPLE PIE

(modified)



Ingredients


Two pie crust recipe
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash salt
4 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples 
8 oz unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

Crunch Topping:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash salt
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of  pie dough. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the apples, applesauce, and lemon juice. Spoon the apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Cut remaining crust into strips; arrange in a lattice design over top of pie.

For crunch topping:

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust and topping are golden brown.


Now, if you're feeling lazy you can just make a crostata.  What is a crostata?  It's basically a free-form pie.  Just roll the pie crust out and plop some filling in the middle, then fold the edges in.   I tried this balsamic strawberry crostata and it turned out beautiful, but wasn't sweet enough.  I added some sugar to the recipe.


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Balsamic Strawberry Crostata 
Serves 4 

1 prepared pie crust recipe
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar 
1/3 cup sugar

1 egg 
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Gently toss strawberries with balsamic and sugar in a medium bowl.  

Roll dough on a piece of parchment paper into a roughly 12-inch disk. Place strawberries in the center of dough, leaving about 3" border. Fold dough border over edge of strawberries. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush egg wash over folded-over dough. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over top of dough and berries. Slide parchment and crostata onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly or to room temperature. 



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2 comments:

Carol Blanchet said...

YOU grind your own wheat? ;-)

Your pies ROCK - these look like no exception!

Megan @ SimplyThrifty said...

I can my apple pie filling and it's delicious. Whenever I need a quick dessert and I'm short on time or ingredients, I can whip up a pie crust, pour a quart jar of apple pie filling in the center, put the top on and bake.

My girlfriends and I canned applesauce and pie filling together. One of my friends gave a jar to Phyllis, our mentor mom at MOPS. She made a pie out of it and then told our group she needed the recipe because it was the best apple pie she'd ever tasted.

If you can and want to try it out, it's super simple, makes great gifts and it's really really tasty. Best of all, it's WAY easier to can than applesauce.

Apple Pie Filling

Makes enough filling for 7 quarts of pie filling.

Mix together: 4 ½ cups sugar, 1 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, 1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional). Wisk together before adding water to prevent lumps.

Add: 10 cups water

Cook until thick and bubbly while stirring occasionally. 
Peel, core and slice about 32 apples. Pack raw apples in jars and pour syrup over. Fill to w/in ½ inch of rim. 
Cooking Time: 5 lbs at 10 minutes add 1 lb pressure for each 1,000 feet
If you're doing a water bath, I believe it's about 20 minutes but you can double check that to be sure.