For My Birthday: Lily Vail’s Apple Pie

Today’s my birthday! And to celebrate there’s … no, not cake. I like pie. Specifically Apple pie. Specifically the way my mother used to bake them and always made one for me for my birthday. And after she died I made one for myself for every birthday. Actually, I make a dozen pies every October when the Greening apples are harvested, because those are the apples I like best for pie. I freeze the pies and we eat about one per month so that when the next October comes around again I make a new batch for the year to come. But you can make apple pie with any apple, just adjust the sugar level accordingly, depending on the apple you use. I prefer a tart-tasting filling, not too sweet that is. That’s why I like Rhode Island Greenings. If you like a tart tasting apple pie, you can use Granny Smith apples (cut the slices thin because they cook better to tenderness that way). Golden Delicious are good pie apples now too, but use a little less sugar and a little more lemon juice. Don’t use McIntosh, they’re too watery. Fuji and Braeburn are better eating apples. They don’t hold up well in a pie. And please, don’t bother with Red Delicious because they have no flavor.  Here’s my Mom’s recipe. I am already humming with anticipation. Lily Vail’s Apple Pie crust: 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel, optional 1/2 cup cold butter 1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening 4-6 tablespoons cold milk, juice, water or melted ice cream apple filling To make the crust: Combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel, if used, in a large bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into chunks and add the chunks to the flour mixture. Work the fat into the flour mixture until the ingredients resemble crumbs (use your hands, a pastry blender or the pulse feature of a food processor). Add the liquid, using only enough to gather pastry into a soft ball of dough (start with 4 tablespoons). Cut the dough in half and flatten each half to make a disk shape. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it stand at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a pastry board or clean work surface. With a rolling pin, roll one half of the dough on the floured surface into a circle about 1/8-inch thick, making sure the circle is larger than the pie pan by about 1 inch. Place the dough in a 9” or 10” pie pan. Pour the apple filling into the pastry-lined pan. Cut the butter into small pieces and place on top of the filling. Roll out the remaining dough and place it over the filling. Gently press the bottom and top crusts together along the flared edge of the pie pan. For a fluted rim, press your thumb and index finger against the outside of the rim, or crimp it with the tines of a fork or the blunt side of a knife. Cut steam vents in the top crust with the tip of a sharp knife or the tines of a fork. Bake the pie for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Apple Filling: 3 pounds pie apples (Rhode Island Greenings, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Idared, Stayman, Winesap, Baldwin, Jonagold) 1/2 cup sugar 2 tablespoons lemon juice 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon butter Peel and core the apples then cut them into slices. Place the slices in a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and flour and toss the ingredients to coat the apple slices evenly.

Today’s my birthday! And to celebrate there’s … no, not cake.

I like pie. Specifically Apple pie. Specifically the way my mother used to bake them and always made one for me for my birthday. And after she died I made one for myself for every birthday.

Actually, I make a dozen pies every October when the Greening apples are harvested, because those are the apples I like best for pie. I freeze the pies and we eat about one per month so that when the next October comes around again I make a new batch for the year to come.

But you can make apple pie with any apple, just adjust the sugar level accordingly, depending on the apple you use. I prefer a tart-tasting filling, not too sweet that is. That’s why I like Rhode Island Greenings. If you like a tart tasting apple pie, you can use Granny Smith apples (cut the slices thin because they cook better to tenderness that way). Golden Delicious are good pie apples now too, but use a little less sugar and a little more lemon juice. Don’t use McIntosh, they’re too watery. Fuji and Braeburn are better eating apples. They don’t hold up well in a pie. And please, don’t bother with Red Delicious because they have no flavor. 

Here’s my Mom’s recipe. I am already humming with anticipation.

Lily Vail’s Apple Pie

crust:

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel, optional

1/2 cup cold butter

1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening

4-6 tablespoons cold milk, juice, water or melted ice cream

apple filling

To make the crust: Combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel, if used, in a large bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into chunks and add the chunks to the flour mixture. Work the fat into the flour mixture until the ingredients resemble crumbs (use your hands, a pastry blender or the pulse feature of a food processor). Add the liquid, using only enough to gather pastry into a soft ball of dough (start with 4 tablespoons). Cut the dough in half and flatten each half to make a disk shape. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it stand at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a pastry board or clean work surface. With a rolling pin, roll one half of the dough on the floured surface into a circle about 1/8-inch thick, making sure the circle is larger than the pie pan by about 1 inch. Place the dough in a 9” or 10” pie pan. Pour the apple filling into the pastry-lined pan. Cut the butter into small pieces and place on top of the filling. Roll out the remaining dough and place it over the filling. Gently press the bottom and top crusts together along the flared edge of the pie pan. For a fluted rim, press your thumb and index finger against the outside of the rim, or crimp it with the tines of a fork or the blunt side of a knife. Cut steam vents in the top crust with the tip of a sharp knife or the tines of a fork. Bake the pie for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.

Apple Filling:

3 pounds pie apples (Rhode Island Greenings, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Idared, Stayman, Winesap, Baldwin, Jonagold)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon butter

Peel and core the apples then cut them into slices. Place the slices in a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and flour and toss the ingredients to coat the apple slices evenly.