Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Pies!!! My Lovely Pies!!!

I had some help tonight in the kitchen making fresh-from-scratch-homemade-apple-pies for our family's annual Thanksgiving Day Potluck... perhaps a bit too much help.

Gabriel was so helpful peeling, coring and chunking apples for me and everything was going so smoothly and quickly with his elbow grease. Of course when it came to making the crusts I eventually had to shoo him out of the kitchen so I had some elbow room. Blast our tiny kitchen!

The pies (eventually) were baked, finished and cooling on the top of the stove when I happened to walk in there and see this:

OMG someone has picked some of the crusts at the edges of my pies!!!

I'm so angry I could pull my hair out. My gorgeous beautiful pies that I worked so hard to make pretty for tomorrow. Wonderful, yummy beautiful ruined pies!!!

Well I guess that serves them right... being so yummy. Irresistible even. They were just too tempting for Miss Isabelle. She couldn't keep her hands off of them. So when you see these pies tomorrow, family, don't laugh. Wait till you taste them... you'll be hooked too!

Anyway... They are lovely and they do taste so much better than store-bought pies. They're surprisingly easy to bake too! I've always been intimidated by baking homemade pies and mostly because the crust just seemed so difficult.

So I challenge you to bake my pies!!! Here's the recipe!

For the crust you'll need:

2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter (that's BUTTER not margarine)
6 tablespoons of shortening
and about 5-8 tablespoons of ice water

Basically, I just mix all the dry ingredients and then I cut the butter in with a pastry blender (you gotta get one if you don't have one... they're awesome!) and add the shortening. Lastly, I add the ice water. After you've mixed your dough, put it bowl and all in the fridge.

Now it's time to start peeling apples. To save time after peeling I use an apple corer. Then I chop the apples (otherwise I end up with a lumpy pie) and soak them in water with a splash of lemon juice to keep them from getting discolored.

For the filling you'll need:

Approximately 5 Apples
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (my secret ingredient!)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Once you have all that wonderful smelling stuff mixed, just set it aside. The next part doesn't take long.

Now it's time to roll out some dough!!! I always keep flour handy for this part because occasionally I have dough that turns out stickier than usual. So go ahead and sprinkle some flour onto your working area. I add a little extra to the middle because that's where mine always sticks the worst.

Get your dough out of the fridge and divide it into 2 lumps. Use one lump at a time and roll those babies out. It takes a little bit to get it just right sometimes, but it's easier than it looks. Just roll it until it's about the same size as your pan with just a little extra room for the edges. To get your crust in your pan, starting from one edge, roll the crust up onto your rolling pin. If your crust starts to stick to your surface (as mine usually does) just use one of your handy utensils to gently slide up under the crust as you begin to lift and roll it.

The first crust you roll out will go on the bottom of the pie. I fold the edges that hang off back onto the pie once I've got it positioned in there right. Then I poke some holes in the bottom of the crust with my trusty fork. Mom says this helps keep air bubbles from forming under the bottom of the crust and ruining your pie.

Now you can pour your filling mixture into your crust. I spread it around so it's nice and even.

It's time to roll out the top crust! Same as before, but if you want you can add some pretty decoration. I use cookie cutters to cut out a pretty vent and usually just draw some lines around it with a knife. Roll it onto your rolling pin like the first crust and try (haha) to get the vent hole centered on top.

Now gently pinch the edges all the way around (not too hard) and then use a wooden spoon to make ruffled edges. This also helps seal the pie around the edges. Finally wrap some strips of aluminum foil around the edges of your pie to keep the edges from browning too much. This helps your pie to be more evenly colored.

Bake the beauty at 400 degrees for about an hour. I usually pull my pies out after an hour, remove the aluminum foil and brush some egg white on the top then stick them in for another 10 minutes. Viola! Homemade baked apple pie!

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