Sunday, October 9, 2011

Apple Pie And Pie Crust

You always remember your first time. i'm speaking in this case of the first time you successfully create a dessert. i think i was 10 yrs old. It was a Saturday afternoon. i'd already come in from playing with my friends. my older siblings were still out with their friends. i'm not sure where my parents were. This was during an era when if you could trust a child not to burn the house down then there would be no legal entanglements to having left said child in the house by themselves. i was bored. But what to do. Pre-cable, there wouldn't be anything on tv until at least 7 o'clock.

i looked on the dining room table. There was a bowl of granny smith apples. They seemed to beckon me. But i wanted to do something more challenging than just have them as a hand-fruit snack. i didn't bother to look for the cookbook. Youth makes you bold. i took a look in the fridge and cupboard to see what other ingredients were available. Like an epiphany it came to me---apple pie.

i'd never seen my mom, sisters, or any of my aunts make an apple pie. Sweet potato was and is the de rigueur pie in our homes. But i figured i had all the ingredients needed [at least what i was taking as a calculated guess at what ingredients were needed] so why not go for it.

i was so excited i was going to make dessert on my own and maybe have it finished before everyone got home. i took six granny smith apples cored peeled sliced and rinsed them. Then squeezed a lemon over them. i don't know how i knew to do that to prevent browning---i must have seen someone do it at some point with potatos or some other food and it stuck in my mind. Next seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar.

It was at this point when i was feeling rather pleased with myself that i realized i needed to make a pie crust. Again youth makes you bold. It was the first and to my recollection the only time i made a pie crust from scratch. my mom had this really neat plastic rolling pin. The handle unscrewed and you filled it with ice. Looked in the freezer and was happy to see the last person to use the ice had actually left a full tray. Poured a cup of flour and a pat of butter on the cutting board and sprinkled it with salt and cold water and proceeded to roll.
To my delight the ingredients were transforming into what i recognized as pie crust. i put that layer in the pie tin and filled with my seasoned apple slices. Flush with success repeated the pie crust steps for the top layer. i thought well let's go all out and instead of just covering with the top crust layer let's slice the crust and make a crisscross aka lattice pattern.

i took what i know now but didn't then is called a pastry jagger cutter---the kind of cutting utensil you would use to cut pizza---i just thought of it as a pinking knife like the scissors for cutting fabric. Anyway the desired pattern was achieved. i baked it for about an hour. my family returned home before it was done. my mom asked something like 'what have you been up to'. i opened the oven door and proudly showed her what was inside. Even better when it was done it tasted just like apple pie.

Recipe for apple pie from Boston Cooking School Cookbook: Apple Pie I ~ 4 or 5 sour apples 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/3cup sugar 1 teaspoon butter 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1 teaspoon lemon juice Few gratings lemon rind. Line pie plate with paste. Pare, core, and cut the apples into eighths, put row around plate one-half inch from edge, and work towards centre until plate is covered; then pile on remainder. Mix sugar, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice, and grated rind, and sprinkle over apples. Dot over with butter. Wet edges of under crust, cover with upper crust, and press edges together.

Bake forty to forty-five minutes in moderate oven. A very good pie may be made without butter, lemon juice, and grated rind. Cinnamon may be substituted for nutmeg. Evaporated apples may be used in place of fresh fruit. If used, they should be soaked over night in cold water.

Apple Pie II ~ Use same ingredients as for Apple Pie I. Place in small earthen baking-dish and add hot water to prevent apples from burning. Cover closely, and bake three hours in very slow oven, when apples will be a dark red color. Brown sugar may be used instead of white sugar, a little more being required. Cool, and bake between two crusts.

Recipe for pie crust from Settlement Cookbook: Plain Pie Crust Number 1 ~ 1 and 1/4 cup of flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup of butter or other fat Cold water to mix to a dough. Mix one half of the butter with the flour. Add water and salt gradually. Roll and spread the remaining butter on the dough. Fold as you would a napkin and roll.

Plain Pie Crust Number 2 Cooky Dough ~ 2 Tablespoons butter 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg. Mix dry ingredients. Add slightly beaten egg to milk and combine the two mixtures. Roll 1/4 inch thick. This makes enough dough for two oblong flat pans. NOTE: Nice for apple, cheese, blueberry, or any other fresh fruit pie.

Image Credit: The Grill Sergeants

Text Credit: The Boston cooking-school cook book by Fannie Merritt Farmer. "This classic American cooking reference includes 1,849 recipes, including everything from "after-dinner coffee"--Which Farmer notes is beneficial for a stomach "overtaxed by a hearty meal"--to "Zigaras a la Russe," an elegant puff-pastry dish. chose the 1918 edition because it was the last edition of the cookbook authored completely by Farmer. Published by Little, Brown, 1906 - Cooking - 648 pages."

Text Credit: Settlement Cookbook Published in 1903 "This was the original "way to a man's heart," featuring authentic American recipes, European cooking, and Jewish favorites. It was put together by the cooking students at the Milwaukee Settlement House and was an important staple of the American kitchen for more than fifty years."

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