Classic Apple Pie

Clasic Apple PieBaseball v.s. El Nino

This past weekend was Opening Day for Little League. We’ve been waiting for this for months, and it’s not just about the baseball. Opening Day means a parade with the mayor, fire engines, and 1800 kids dressed in their uniforms marching down a spectator-lined street. It’s oh-so Mayberry, and it’s the very definition of Americana. You just don’t see this everyday—at least not anymore. I love it.

The parade kicks off an entire day on the diamond. Nine hours of baseball, hot dogs, seeds, and forced relaxation; not to mention hanging with friends. It is my highlight of Spring. (Or at least a reminder that Spring is almost here.) That is the way it was supposed to be, anyway.

This year, for the first time I can remember, we had rain. A lot of it. We were able to sneak the parade in before the rain got really bad. The best part? Everyone still came. Armed with umbrellas and rain boots they still came, which is good. I know I am not alone in my psychosis.

As you can imagine, all of the games were cancelled, and it looks like they will be cancelled until April. (Okay. That may be an exaggeration, sort of…) It’s killing us (well, maybe just me), and while I realize that reaction is beyond irrational, it’s where I am.

I know what you all are saying, get a grip. And I am trying…it’s a process. As part of that process I am now going to get a grip of this Classic Apple Pie ‘cause that’s as close as I am getting to baseball tradition at this point.

Classic Apple Pie
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

This recipe gives some great tips for working the dough, and recommends lightly greasing the pie plate for easy serving—brilliant! I find that King Arthur Flour makes fantastic crusts—it is a staff favorite.

For the Crust
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
7 to 10 tablespoons ice water

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated (optional)

For the Filling
8 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup boiled cider* or undiluted apple juice concentrate
2 tablespoons butter, diced in small pieces

Make the Dough
Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening with two knives or a pastry blender until it forms lumps the size of small peas. Dice the butter into 1/2″ pieces, and cut it into the mixture until your flakes of butter are about the size of a fingernail. Add the water, 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing with a fork as you sprinkle the water into the dough.

When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it, transfer it to a piece of wax or parchment paper or a pastry cloth. It’s OK if there are some dry spots in the pile. Use a spray bottle of water to lightly spritz these places; that way you’ll add just enough water to bring the dough together without creating a wet spot.

Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together, then divide it in half and pat it into two disks 3/4″ thick. Roll the disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges. This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, without a lot of cracks and splits at the edges later. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before forming the crust.

Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan that is at least 2 inches deep. This will make serving the pie easier once it’s baked.

Roll out half of the pastry to a 13″ circle. Transfer it to the prepared pan, and trim the edges so they overlap the rim of the pan by an inch all the way around.

Make the Filling
Combine the sliced apples and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, and spices. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples, and stir to coat them. Stir in the boiled cider* or apple juice concentrate.

Spoon the apple filling into the pan. Dot the top with the diced butter.

Assemble the Pie
Roll out the remaining pastry to an 11″ circle. Cut decorative vent holes, if desired; or weave a lattice. You can also decorate the pie by forming shapes with the leftover dough. Carefully place the pastry over the apples.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll the overhanging bottom crust up and over the top crust, pinching to seal the, together. Flute the edges of the pie, then place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up the crust while the oven finishes heating.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until you see the filling bubbling inside the pie. Check the pie after 25 minutes or half an hour of baking time, and cover the edges with foil or a pie shield to keep them from browning too quickly.

When the pie is done, remove it from the oven and cool it completely before slicing.

*Note: You can read more about boiled cider here. We stock it in our shop, and it is great to have on hand for so many purposes!

Variation: Grate one cup of sharp cheddar, and add it to the crust. The flavor is a great compliment to the filling.

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