Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Fall is here. The first few crisp weather mornings have passed us by here in Tennessee (better late than never) and I have an overwhelming desire to make mom's apple pie. There's something you need to know about me...I have two comfort foods that that clung to me since childhood that I turn to in times of nostalgia  and...well...just plain gluttonous indulgence. Those two foods are:

  1. Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato or potato soup
  2. Mom's apple pie a la mode
I have so many memories of coming home during the autumn/winter months with the deliciously warm and inviting smells of this apple pie wafting throughout the house. It's one of those smells that makes you salivate the second it hits your nose. It's one of those smells that reminds you that Christmas filled with family, presents, snow, and no school is just around the corner. It's one of those smells that puts me home.

My first attempt at baking this pie (including the crust) was an ugly site. It was our first fall as a married couple and we had about a 1 foot square countertop available for preparation in our tiny apartment kitchen. The entire process to bake these two pies took approximately 4.5 hours. I think 2.5 were on trying to get the crust to be just the right moisture to roll and not break, but not overly moist so it becomes tough. It's a very delicate balance that one could easily mess up, but the reward is oh-so worth it.

Here's the recipe in the words of my mother. Try not to freak out by the amount of butter/crisco it calls for. Again. it's worth it.

Mom's Apple Pie
  • 6-8 apples, pared, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or a tad more)
  • dash nutmeg (and a wee dash of cloves if you have it)
  • wee dash of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Stick of butter - to be added at the end.
Slice apples, sprinkle with lemon juice. Pour sugar, spices over top and mix. Set aside while you make the crust. (Once apples are in the pan, slice the stick of butter over top.)

Pastry Crust (makes one pie -top and bottom crust) 
  • 2 slightly generous cups of flour (mounded)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • generous 2/3 cup shortening (cold - I keep mine in the fridge)
  • bowl of ice water
Put ice in a bowl of water and set aside.

Put the flour in a medium sized bowl and put the salt on top then use the pastry blender to mix it in.

Take about half of the generous (heaped up) 2/3 cup of cold shortening and use the pastry blender to cut the shortening into the flour until it is small granules (like grits or cornmeal) then add the remaining cold shortening and cut into the flour until there are pieces left that are about the size of peas. (These melt between layers of flour as the pie bakes and makes it flaky.)

Sprinkle the ice water over the flour/shortening mix and then use a fork to sort of toss/stir. You kind of push it to the side as it get moistened. Continue adding water to the more floury parts and gently toss/stir until the dough can be formed into two balls.

On a floured surface (countertop) place one ball and press it down by hand to form a flat circle. Then use the rolling pin to roll from center out until it is large enough to cover the pan.

Use a flat spatula to gently unstick it and fold it over in half then unstick the other half and lift it into the crust.

Roll out the other half of the crust and let it sit on the counter while you put the apples in the pan. They will have juice to pour over the top by now.

Then - and this is IMPORTANT - I have forgotten many times - cut up a stick of butter on top of the apples before you put the top crust in place.

Use a knife handle to make the scalloped edges (or thumb and pointer and pinch it). Or seal with a fork and then use a knife to cut the excess off.

Bake at 400° for 50 - 60 minutes. Sometimes I put foil around the outside edge of the crust, but not always. The crust may get too brown if you don't, but I usually don't.


Patty said...

So much work - but it is worth it a few times a year. :o)

I found a few typos in my copy. Like: "...lift it into the crust" instead of "lift it into the pie pan."

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one making apple pies from now on. Many hands make light work.

I do love autumn.

Rebecca Charlene said...

I love this so so much.

Rebecca Charlene said...

I love this so so much.

Patty said...

Becca really loves this. ;o)

Patty said...

All of your pies this year - including the apple! - were delicious. And your crust was fantastic. I hereby confer upon you the pie baker of the family.