Would you like to know how to have the nicest pie crust ever? Flaky, tender, a perfect complement to fruit fillings? Honey I’m not Paula Deen, but …
So, when I was growing up, my grandmother was not the best cook. She wasn’t the worst, either and as far as nutrition goes, yes – she was the best. She had a great understanding of proper nutrition, portions, balance of vegetables, fruits, low-fat, etc.
Our desserts were few and far between, as you can imagine. The biggies were Jell-O (I know, I know) and Jell-O vanilla pudding with some type of fruit in it. This was before the days of yogurt being so popular. And Jell-O pudding made with skim milk probably is superior to the high fructose corn syrup laden yogurt products of the early days.
But for special days and holidays, my grandmother would make apple pie. This pie had the BEST CRUST EVER. It wasn’t Nana’s crust. She learned how to make it from her best friend Imo, who had learned it from the vacuum cleaner salesman. Or possibly the Fuller Brush man. A traveling salesman, anyway.
Anyway, if you eat Marie Callendar’s pies or any of the other typical restaurant pies – heck, even bakery pies – these do not have crusts like this. As you can see this is a crumbly type of crust. It has a little bit of salt to it, and a little “sandiness.” This crust will *never* be made in a food processor.
So, first, here’s the crust recipe:
2 C + 1 T unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 C Crisco – chilled in freezer
6 T ice water (or less)
In a medium-sized bowl (I use an aluminum bowl), mix the flour and salt together. Cut in the Crisco with 2 knives, 2 forks, or heaven forbid: a pastry cutter. I was taught the mixture should begin to form small pea-like shapes while most of the flour looked like cornmeal before beginning to add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stop adding water when the dough begins to hold together and will not stick to the sides of the bowl. Seriously. Stop adding the water when you can make it form in a ball. At all. Form it into a larger ball or disc. Wrap this in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for 45 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, peel, core and slice 7-8 regular sized Granny Smith or other firm pie apples (Romes, etc). Depending on the type of apple you will use, you will want more or less sugar. I use half white sugar and half brown sugar.
For the filling:
7-8 Granny Smith or other pie apples
1/2 C unbleached flour
1/4 to 1/3 C white sugar
1/4 to 1/3 C brown sugar (vary amt. of sugar depending on tartness of apples)
2-3 T Vegan margarine (or butter if you like butter
are not Vegan – if you use Vegan butter, this is a Vegan recipe)
3/4 tsp to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
some Vanilla (to taste)
Now, they add the lemon juice to the filling because many apples brown while you’re peeling and coring them, and no one likes that. But Granny Smith and other pie type apples kind of don’t. The vanilla you can splash in there and it has alcohol in it, and will stop the browning action.
Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the margarine or butter in similarly to pie crust “cutting in” (see above).
Peel the apples, core them (or cut around the core) and slice them approx 1/8 inch thick. Do not cut too thick or too thin. Put the apples into the bowl with the flour/sugar/salt mixture. If you add the apples as you finish peeling and slicing, you can toss, sprinkle with a little vanilla, slice some more, toss, etc. until you are done. You should have a bowl of yummy apples which have collected a bit of tasty, juicy goodness.
Take the pie crust out of the refrigerator. On a smooth surface (anything from your fancy kitchen marble board to a wooden cutting board (see picture), throw a handful of flour down, spread it out, then put one half of the dough onto it. Make sure the dough is formed into a flattened round. Take a good rolling pin, throw some flour on that, and gently roll the dough out to about 1.5 inches bigger around than your pie pan. It should be approx. 1/8 inch thick. Do not worry if there are breaks – just don’t let there be breaks on the bottom or the pie will stick to your pie pan.
However best you can, put the rolled out crust into the pan. Your instructions will tell you “fold in fourths, etc. Well no. Just pick that sucker up, center it, and drop it gently in there. Press gently to fill the pan. Do not worry about “cutting the edge off perfectly.” If you do, the crust will be horrible.
So after you get the bottom crust situated, prick it with the tines of a fork. Put the apples into the crust. You can use your hands. Pile them up in an “architectural fashion.” You will have some sugary goodness and juice in the bowl. When you are done with the sugar and flour mixture coated apple slices, pour this juice evenly over the whole thing. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees if you have not already done so.
Repeat the first procedure with your second round of dough. Roll it out a bit farther. Make sure you have good coverage as well. Delicately pick it up and drape it over the apples. Press the edges against the bottom crust as best you can. This crust is delicate so just use the fork to press the edges together. Cut 5 or 6 slashes in a “flower” type pattern around the top middle of the crust. Sprinkle a little white sugar (Organic is best) over the top. Put the pie on a baking sheet. Make a small 2-3 inch “skirt” of foil and wrap it gently around the outside of the pie. This will protect the pie through 35 minutes of baking.
Bake for 425 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the outer foil “skirt” that keeps the edges from burning 10 minutes before the pie is done.
Try to wait to eat it.