Dessert Pies

Happy Birthday to Me Apple Pie

Yes, it’s my birthday and I felt like having a little apple pie, with the emphasis on little. I have an 8″ Fire King Sapphire Blue Philbe pie dish that was my mother’s and I seldom use it, but it seemed like a good idea to start making smaller pies for us. It appears that some people collect this pattern, but I’d rather use it than let it sit. I took a number of photos with the plate tilted so you could see the blue tint that shows up on the edges and in the design—it’s subtle, but I think you can see the blue:

This is one of those milestone birthdays—65—meaning that I have signed up for Medicare (just Part A for now) and I am eligible for the Pennsylvania lifetime hunting and fishing licenses. I’ll put off applying for Social Security for another year, because I have a tiny pension from the last job I held, but I hear it might cut into the SS, because we wouldn’t want the retired to make too much income (that was sarcastic).

I’ve never been embarrassed about stating my age, mostly because I am waiting to see if I ever actually feel as old as the number indicates I should. I never do and I feel sorry for people who think they do feel a certain age. I think the only way I might feel it is in the ability to see how much history I’ve lived through; it’s quite satisfying to be able to say, for example, that I remember some classic television from the 50s, the social and political upheavals of the 60s, including the several assassinations, and so much more, like the Berlin wall coming down, or the moon landing. It’s very cool to be able to look back at history, and if you think old people live in the past, I say it’s something else, more like the past lives in them. This is me at 65, using the grainy Noir filter on my iPhone—grainy is good at this age:

So, back to that apple pie. I’m using my old standby pie crust that uses solid shortening, mainly because my oven has hot spots and butter crusts burn a little, but we like the taste and texture of that traditional crust very much. As for the apples, I’ve been reading a number of articles about good baking apples, and I ended up getting Braeburn after staring at the Crispin and Golden Delicious for a long time. Golden Delicious are available for such a short time, that I was leaning in that direction, but went with Braeburn because I haven’t baked with them before. Because this pie is small, I’m going to pre-cook the filling, which I never do, but I’m concerned about the crust being done before the filling in such a small dish. I’m also going to add a little thickener to the filling—another thing I never do—just to be certain it all comes together.

8 inch Apple Pie

  • Servings: 6-8 small slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Pie Crust with Crisco®

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons hydrogenated shortening

1/4 cup water

  1. Stir flour and salt to distribute
  2. Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender. I find the shortening cuts in better with a fork, unlike cold butter.
  3. Add the water all at once and stir in with a fork until the dough comes together. If the dough seems too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it is moist enough to hold together and feel pliable.
  4. Roll dough about 1-2 inches larger than top rim of pan on a floured surface. My preference for rolling is a wooden pin with a rolling pin sock. With flour rubbed in to the sock, it never sticks to the dough.
  5. Roll the dough onto the pin, brushing off excess flour on the back. Unroll into pan and use your favorite crimping method. My pattern follows the curve on the top of my thumb from the nail to the knuckle.

Cooked Apple Filling

3.5 lbs Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup tapioca starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. Melt butter over low heat in large saucepan or dutch oven. A high-sided pan will be needed for such a large amount of apples.
  2. Stir in sugar and spices and vanilla.
  3. Stir in apples to coat, then cover and cook for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Uncover and stir in tapioca starch mixture, continuing to cook and stir until thickened.
  5. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

The amount of starch you need is going to depend on the amount of liquid produced by the apples. Short of actually pouring it off to measure before thickening, you need to judge the number of cups of liquid created. Don’t worry if you get more liquid than you need—just thicken it all, but don’t put it all in the pie. I had 2 cups of filling left over and am thinking of putting them on pancakes.

Putting Together and Baking the Pie

I’m sure you know how to put together a 2 crust pie, but here goes, anyway:

  • I like to fold the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust to make a thick edge before crimping. As you can see in the finished photos, the crimped edges didn’t keep their tight shape, and that often happens for me with that fat edge, but we still like it—we eat the crust edge first, kind of like a pastry of its own.
  • I make slits in the top crust with a sharp knife edge, rather than cutting out shapes, but that would be okay, too.
  • The precooked filling bubbled over more than I thought it would, but I kind of like the look of it running all over the crust. Hint: put a sheet of foil below the pie on a lower shelf to catch drips.
  • I was surprised that the filling cooked down further and left that familiar gap between the crust and filling. It’s more of a cosmetic issue than an eating issue, but it tells me a lot about that filling. Even with uncooked fillings, sometimes there’s a gap and sometimes not. Maybe one day, I will make a room full of pies to test that feature (unlikely).
  • I baked this pie at 425° for 45 minutes.

I’m very happy with the taste and texture of the Braeburns. I’d like to try them in an uncooked filling to see how they come out, but maybe that’s for another birthday.

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