Election season is now in high gear. Fortunately, so is apple season, so we can drown out the candidates and the nonsense with a big slice of homemade apple pie.
Besides, election season ends. But you can freeze an apple pie for up to a year.
My mother, who made fabulous apple pie, taught me the tricks to perfect pie crust. First, she said, use as little liquid as possible for the dough, because that’s what makes the crust so flaky.
She also didn’t use ice water, like most recipes say to. She used milk or sour cream and sometimes orange juice or even melted vanilla ice cream. The crust was incredibly delicate, crumbly and rich.
She also had this important caveat:”don’t kill the dough!” and I hear her warning every time I roll some out. She meant, roll the dough gently, don’t press too hard or bang it. It’s dough, not clay so you don’t have to batter it to death to get it smooth.
Warning in mind, every September I make an annual trek to a nearby farm to get the kind of apples she always used: Rhode Island Greenings. I’ve tried to make a pie as good as hers using other apples but nothing can compare to these. Unfortunately, you have to search them out. Stores do not carry them as a rule. I’m lucky that I only have to travel about 45 minutes to get my annual load — a bushel. I make about a dozen pies and a few other goodies like Apple Brown Betty.
The pies last almost the entire year in the freezer. We always eat one just after the first one cools down from baking. The next one at Thanksgiving, then New Year’s. The rest depend on who’s coming to my house and when.
Here’s my Mom’s recipe. If you can’t get Greening apples, use Newtown Pippin, Northern Spy, Idared, Stayman, Winesap or Jonathan. Or a mixture of any of these. Golden Delicious are fine, but a little sweet. If you use Golden Delicious, cut back a tablespoon or two of sugar. Lots of people use Granny Smith apples, but I don’t like the texture of these apples when they’re cooked.
Mom’s Apple Pie
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
4-5 tablespoons liquid (water, milk, yogurt, juice, etc.)
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and shortening and work the fats into the flour using your fingers or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor). Add the minimum quantity of liquid and work into the ingredients to form a dough, using the remaining liquid if necessary (or pulse in the food processor until a ball of dough forms). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Makes enough for 2-crust 9 or 10-inch pie
Apple Pie Filling
3 pounds pie apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons milk, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the apples in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Add the sugar, cinnamon and flour and toss the ingredients to mix them evenly. Roll out half the dough and fit into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan, leaving an excess overhanging the edge. Spoon the filling into the pan. Dot the apples with the bits of butter. Roll out the remaining dough and place it on top of the apple filling. Gather the top and bottom crusts at the edge of the pan and either press them with a fork to seal them together, or roll them slightly and press down to seal the edges, then flute the edge using your index finger and thumb. Cut holes in the dough using the tip of a sharp knife. Brush the surface of the top with the milk, if you like a darker crust. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Makes 8 servings
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