As American as Apple Pie

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19 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Quite delicious sounding, Zic! And incredibly well told.Report

  2. Avatar KnittingNiki says:

    Zic, I had the great pleasure of reading your well-articulated recipe during the formatting and want to echo Tod– this sounds amazing! Your recipe and methods are different enough from what I’ve picked up over the years that I think I’ll need to give this recipe a test drive soon. Too bad no one around here cares for pie, ha ha…Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    Tod, thanks! Great pictures.

    I’ll just say that the rolling-out photo is a good example of what I’m trying to avoid; a jagged edge that will be prone to cracking on a too-dry dough that’s being forced with pressure and without enough flour under it. This is the pie crust most recipes offer, and my recipe is the antidote.

    One other note that I forgot: I do not make pie crust in the food processor; even with just a few pulses, it cuts the fat too small (called a short crust, believe it or not,) and the small globules of fat aren’t big enough to result in flaky layers.

    Thank you, Tod, you done good.Report

  4. Avatar KnittingNiki says:

    Don’t neglect clicking on the Ella link at the bottom for a delicious treat of a different sort…Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    It’s so easy to do. And so difficult to explain; for it’s all in the touch, the fingers, a delicate thing, stroking butterfly wings.

    I’m sorry, what were we talking about?Report

  6. Avatar Just Me says:

    I’ve never used palm oil shortening before. How does it compare to using lard for flakiness? Back in the day, when I was a child, we would spend one day making enough apple pies to freeze for winter. Mom would gather the kids together and we assembly lined the process. Some kids cut and peeled apples, some rolled out dough, some assembled the pies. Mom always made the crust and monitored the ovens, partially cooking them so during winter we could take one out, thaw it and finish cooking before serving a piping hot apple pie.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Just Me says:

      The palm oil is more like lard then Crisco; crisper.

      Both my grandmothers used lard in pie crust; my mother Crisco. I’d use lard, but only from a farm-raised pig where I knew the pigs diet; and render and filter it myself, but only if I were putting half a pig in the freezer/smoker. Store lard from factory farms just gives me the willies, but your mileage may vary. You can also use butter; which produces a very buttery-tasting crust (my husband does not like overly buttery crusts); though a tablespoon of white or cider vinegar in the water will help cut that some.Report

  7. Avatar Just Me says:

    We usually used our own lard. Come fall we would send one beefer and one pig to the butchers. They would come back wrapped up in plastic in the back of our pick up truck cut up in quarters. We would finish butchering them at the house. The chickens we did completely ourselves, didn’t have to send them out to be dispatched. We would have one huge freezer that was veggies and fruits (including the above mentioned pies) and another huge freezer that was meat. I always looked forward to butchering, mom would make the best beef jerky I have ever tasted. She had a 5 or 6 rack dehydrator. She would dole it out as a snack, every once in a while I could sneak some out of the house to give my friends on the school bus.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Just Me says:

      This reminds me of my grandparents. We lived with them when I was small; learning to talk age. In the fall, my grandfather slaughtered a couple of pigs, and smoked most of it, the didn’t have a freezer. They were poor, looking back, it seems like the depression era still hung on them; still hung on most farmers in rural Maine.

      My earliest taste memories are of sitting with him for breakfast at 4:00 a.m., before he set out for the days work. Everyone else would still be asleep, but he’d get up and put a pot of coffer on to percolate on the wood stove (they didn’t have a ‘regular stove at that time,’ and a pan of bacon; the smells always woke me up. It would be just the two of us. We’d have his bacon, fried crispy, eggs from their chickens cooked over easy, and baked beans. He drank coffee, which I recall as smelling burnt, by pouring from the cup into the saucer, and slurping from the saucer. I didn’t like the eggs, but loved the bacon, so he broke my bacon into the eggs, stirring it up into a mass of whites and bacon floating in the runny yellow sauce.

      When we were done eating, I’d go back to bed, and he’d go to do chores, milking 10 cows by hand and storing the milk in big metal milk jugs, and then go to his job doing road construction.

      My grandmother foraged wild food, and I used to go with her. She was always overjoyed at the first dandelion greens, the first fresh food, of spring, we’d pick wild strawberries by the bucket, and she’d make jam. It’s only recently that I realized she was picking the whole frond of berries, not the individual berries.

      Poverty is nothing to laugh at, subsistance farming brutal work. But I’m grateful I had the chance to build those taste memories from an era before industrial food crowded our tables.Report

  8. Avatar Miss Mary says:

    I love pie. Thanks for this, Zic.Report

  9. Avatar DRS says:

    Don’t you use allspice, zic?

    I’ve seen recipes that suggest using wine-mulling spices or chai in apple desserts. Apples can go with a lot of different spices.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to DRS says:

      DRS, I don’t use allspice; particularly with the Vietnamese cinnamon; I don’t care for the flavor it introduces. But much grocery-store cinnamon is lacking a depth of flavor that allspice might contribute.

      On spices and Chai, in particular — I used to own a coffee shop, where I was the head baker. We sold a variety of flavored teas as well as espresso drinks. I’d save mild from steaming to sue in baking. Often, I’d take the leftover milk, re-steam it to heat it back up, and then steep one of the flavored teas, including chai, in it for about ten minutes, and then strain it. I’d then use this to make muffins — I called them ‘tea cakes.’ Chai muffins with apple rock. And banana nut muffins, made with banana green tea and chunks of banana are to die for.Report

  10. Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

    So, like, I know next to nothing about baking or cooking, but I thought I would share this with you all.

    I was listening to Talk of the Nation: Science Friday and they had this guest on who wrote a science-based cookbook or something. Anyway, he said the key to making a great pie crust was to replace half the water with chilled vodka. Apparently what you want is something that will wet the flour so you can mix and work it but that won’t activate the gluten. It’s the same idea as the cold water but more so.

    Someone should give it a try and let us know, huh?Report