Staten Island Food And - See what's cooking……

Posts Tagged ‘apple pie’


September 30, 2009

An Autumn Classic… APPLE PIE part deux

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Warm Apple Pie An Autumn Classic... APPLE PIE part deux

An Autumn Classic... Apple Pie

If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. – Carl Sagan

Well, it’s not really that difficult. Carl always had his head in the cosmos.

It’s an American dessert that is synonymous with Thanksgiving and dear old Mom. The aroma of a fresh baked (and in my case, half baked) apple pie cooling in your kitchen will challenge your willpower. If you make fresh whipped cream and have some vanilla ice cream handy forget willpower your toast! Fini!

In part one of this two part series I discussed how to make a pie crust simple as it seems it is truly the more difficult part of the process. Do not let this discourage you. You can always purchase pie crust from your local baker or supermarket for convenience (pécheur! you are breaking every French baking rule).

“As American as Apple Pie.” Umm… that’s not entirely correct.

Pies in general go back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans (Toga! Toga!). Back then they where mostly meat filled.  During the 1500’s, apple pie was beginning to become a popular dessert in England. It was one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite desserts. Also the French were famous for an open faced (without a top crust) fruit pie called tarte tatin.

The origins of our modern day apple pie are rooted in our English settlers. According to the American Pie Council, in Colonial times the apple pie was cooked in long narrow pans. The crusts that held the pie together during baking was called “coffyns” and the crusts where not sealed to each other.  This was done to make it easier to add the spices and sugar after the apples had been baked. Usually the crust was not eaten.  I think the English could of come up with a better name, maybe ye olde apple holder.

Because of the Colonialist and many other bakers over time the apple pie has become a part of American culture and tradition….”as American as apple pie.”

Did You Know?

Apple tree’s are not indigenous to North America. They come from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Our apple tree’s were brought over by the Europeans along with all their food traditions. In 1623, William Blackstone planted the first apple seeds on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA. The rest is history.

What About the Apples?

Nothing beats the taste of fresh apples, especially the apples you pick yourself. My children enjoy apple picking because it’s a fun family tradition and they get to help make a pie later in the day. The apple varieties we pick for pie making are Granny Smith and Staymen Winesap. I usually use half of each variety for the recipe. Both types of apples are tart, crisp and have excellent texture. Both apples are very good for baking and EATING!

If you want to impress a woman, bake her a pie – Neil Peart,  famous musician

Listen up boys. When I was single, apple picking with the “apple of my eye” at that time followed with baking a pie was always a good move with the women. I admit I was never a Don Juan or as Steve Miller put it, “a Gangster Of Love”. I was more like Dustin Hoffman in Rain man. Yeah, real smooth. When I found something that worked I stuck with it.

Neil Peart, a famous musician, discovered the benefits of cooking and pie making. In short he found that cooking is an extension of love. Click this link for his cooking discovery// What will you discover?

My Family Apple Pie Recipe…


Pastry for a 9″ double crust (see my pie crust recipe in part one of this series)

3 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. grated lemon peel/zest

1/4 tsp. grated orange peel/zest

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Dash of salt

1 Tbsp.salted butter


Position the oven rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.  Line your 9″ pie pan with the first pie crust. Make sure you make it snug all around the pan and overhang the top edge of the pan. In a large bowl, mix together both sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon and orange zest. Toss the apples in the bowl a little at a time to coat them with the sugar mixture. Place the apples in the pie crust lined pan and pour any remaining sugar mixture into the pie. Divide the butter and dot the pie filling.

Roll out and cover your pie with the second pie crust. Fold the pie crust overhang under then bring up over pie pan rim. Pinch to form a high edge  to seal. Cut any excess.  Cut four slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. For a golden crust brush lightly with whole milk and sprinkle with a little white sugar. Cover only the rim of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent burning. Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 10″ and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees for additional 30 or forty minutes. WATCH THE PIE…MAKE SURE IT DOES NOT BURN! Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Enjoy!

Please send me any suggestions, recipes and comments. Thanks for reading!


September 26, 2009

An Autumn Classic…. APPLE PIE

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pie crust3 300x210 An Autumn Classic.... APPLE PIE

pie crust

“When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.” – Laiko Bahrs

Pie crust, make it right and you are in heaven. Make it wrong and well you have a shingle for your roof.

Can something so simple be so difficult to make?

A basic pie crust is flour, salt, sugar mixed and then you add some water and fat until it all sticks together. Roll it out and bake it. Boy I wish it was that simple. A lot can go wrong. The ideal pie crust should be tender and flaky. Not like concrete requiring a jackhammer to cut.

I will confess that I have cheated in making pie crusts. I’ve taken that trip to the supermarket and bought pre-made pie crust or even bought it a local bakery. I know, I know it’s a sin. That was in my pre-cooking phase. I was young and foolish (some might say I am still foolish but I am having fun.) You must make the pie crust to taste the difference. I have cooked for many people over the years. I have made the most complex dinners but nothing gets more compliments (and girls! that’s a story for another time) than a great fresh baked pie.

I have consulted many references for this series on apple pie. I have also spoken to local bakers, my mother (she’d kill me if I didn’t), friends and referred to many cook books. I have compiled all the resources for the recipe below. Before you start read the above quote again. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Try to share this experience with loved one or a friend. Enjoy yourself and have some fun.

Next week part deux … The Apples Strike Back!

The Idiot-Proof Pie Dough…kinda

For one 10″ single pie crust (you will need to make this twice for two pie crusts)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp. table salt

1/2 cup of  chilled vegetable shortening MINUS 1 TBSP

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (this will help make the crust tender)

1/4 cup cold water

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (this will help make the crust tender)

Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Chop the shortening and butter into the flour until it looks like coarse crumbs. To chop shortening and butter you can use a food processor then transfer it to another bowl. Another way to chop shortening and butter is to use two knives and crisscross them through the mixture. Now add the water one Tbsp at a time. After adding each Tbsp of water lightly mix with a fork until the pastry just holds together. DON’T OVER DO IT! Now add the lemon juice and again lightly mix with a fork. With your hands, shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl. Chill the dough in the refrigerator. After 30 minutes remove the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8″ thick. Transfer crust to pie plate and ease into the bottom and sides of plate. Fill as recipe directs (see the next post). Cover pie with another crust.