A few months ago, My Life Runs On Food’s Facebook fans were asked to describe their favorite Fall recipe. Of course, it was Apple Pie.
“Ooohh! I remember going to the apple orchard with my grandmother! Picking the apples, watching them make fresh apple cider and then bringing home all those baskets of apples! She would make apple everything! But my favorites were apple pancakes and pies! Mmmmmmmm! That was the best! Reminds me of those candy apples too, the ones with the red, hard, cinnamon candy! Gotta love the Fall!”
– Monique Foley
“Mine to is apples. My grandfather would take me and my brothers apple picking when we were younger. My mother would make fried apples with brown sugar. I still go apple picking to this day with my friends, nieces, nephews, etc.”
– Skysthelimit Ing
Dad and I used an Apple Pie recipe printed on a plate. The original recipe called for a nutty, brown sugary crust that hardens after the pie is baked. Pie slices would come out of the dish without the bottom pastry crust. We loved the rock-hard crust, for a knife would chisel it into random pieces sized from granular to chunks of delightful sugar candy. Guess who had to wash dishes? It was me, myself and I, of course. The plate was soaked overnight and plenty of “elbow grease” was applied before it was considered thoroughly cleaned. One day Dad and I were in the kitchen making another Apple Pie. We started talking about the difficulty of scrapping the hardened sugary crust from the pie dish. I recommended mixing all the ingredients together. Dad thought about the suggestion for a brief moment, and he proceeded to mix all the ingredients for the filling in one bowl. Since, that day, that is how our Apple Pie has been made with much less cleaning time. This version, slightly different from Dad’s recipe, includes pears and much less sugar, for I excluded the white sugar. Like most of my recipes, butter is used abundantly. Although, olive oil lightly greases the pie dish before the bottom pastry dough is rolled out. Experiment with your favorite tart and crisp apple variety from the farmer’s market, or as Monique and SkystheLimit Ing mentioned, from the apple orchard.
Apple Pear Pecan Pie
1 Double Pie Crust (recipe below); halved into unequal portions*
1/2-cup pecans; coarsely chopped
3/4-cup brown sugar
3/4-cup butter; melted and cooled
2 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
The zest of one lemon; the juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
3 lbs. apples and/or pears; choose varieties that are fresh, crisp, and tart (Granny Smiths, Winesaps, freshly picked Macoun, and so fourth. Use very underripe pears (Bosc is an excellent choice.)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Excluding the double piecrust, mix all ingredients to make the Apple Pear Pie filling in a large bowl.
3. Roll the larger half of the double piecrust dough into a lightly oiled 9 to 10 inch pie dish. Add the Apple Pear filling over the bottom dough (See details about rolling pastry in the Pie Crust Dough recipe below).
4. Roll the smaller half of the double piecrust dough on top of the filling.
5. Seal the edges with a fork, cut the excess dough around the edges and cut three vent holes on the top piecrust dough. If desired, use excess dough to make an apple shape and place the cut out over the top piecrust dough (see slide show).
6. Place in the oven over a cookie sheet and bake for one hour and 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the dish cool before serving.
*Note: If a thicker crust is preferred, double this recipe.
Pie Crust Dough
3-3/8 cups flour
1-1/8 tsp. salt
3/4-cup (1-1/2 stick) salted butter; cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4-cup cold, chilled water; more or less
Directions for Hand Method
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and the salt. Drop the butter pieces in to the flour mixture. Moving quickly, use fingers or a pastry blender; mix the ingredients together. The resulting mixture will resemble various tiny flakes and small pieces. Sprinkle water over the mixture starting with 1 tbsp. Gently stir with a fork after each tablespoon. Add enough water, in which the dough looks like a rough mass of irregularly sized small pieces. Rubbing hands with flour, shape dough into two unequal sizes flatten balls.
Directions for Food Processor
1. Using the metal blade, add the flour, salt and butter to the bowl. Process with 15 to 20 quick, on-off pauses. The mixture will resemble various tiny flakes and small crumbs.
2. Add 1/2 cup of water and process with ten quick, on-off pauses. Add 1/4 cup of water and repeat with seven quick, on-off pauses. The dough should be a shaggy mess, but it shouldn’t shape into a ball. When a clump of dough is squeezed together and holds its shape, it’s ready for the next step. If not, add water by the tablespoons until a shape holds. Mixing time of this step should not exceed one minute.
3. Remove the dough from the food processor onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a ball. Cut the ball into two unequal sizes.
4. Roll dough to an 1/8-inch thick and 12-inches in diameter (or about 2-inches larger than the top of the pie dish). Using the rolling pin as a guide, place dough inside of a lightly oiled pie dish. Shape and pat the dough to fit into the pie dish. Place a fruit filling over the bottom pie dough.
5. Roll out the smaller piecrust half and place over the filling. Seal and clean the edges. Make three vent hole cuts to the top piecrust dough.
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