Sunday, September 9, 2012

Apples and Pie!


Autumn is my favorite season, and, although it's technically still Summer, this cooler weather and picking apples say Fall is here already.  Nothing celebrates this time of year better than an all-American apple pie made through family traditions.  Each year we find a perfect Fall day to go apple-picking at a local fruit farm.  The children enjoy sampling from each tree as they hunt for the perfect apple and load the bags to near overflowing.  My favorite variety of apple is Fuji, but we also pick Jonathan and Golden Delicious, and their hybrid, Jonagold.  We try to ration our supply until the end of November so that we have enough apples for our annual pie-baking event.  The day before Thanksgiving is permanently reserved for this tradition.  The kids and I gather at my parents’ house with my siblings, their spouses, and all my nieces and nephews.  My mom makes the pie dough from scratch while my dad peels the apples.  The kids help mix the ingredients and make sure the filling tastes just right, and sometimes even bake their own “mini pies.”  As the house is filled with the delicious aroma of apples and spices, the most difficult part is knowing we have to wait until the next day to enjoy our creations!


Apple Pie
This is a simple, reliable recipe for a classic apple pie.  You may use a traditional crust on top or choose the crumb topping (see recipe below).  For a quick version, use already-prepared pie dough.  Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature, or even √† la mode. 
INGREDIENTS
  • Pie dough, enough for 1 or 2 crusts (either homemade, from a mix, or store-bought)*
  • 6 ½ - 7 cups apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced** (one apple = approximately one cup)
  • ¾ - 1 cup granulated sugar (choose the larger amount if using a tart apple)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon***
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg***
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Thaw pie dough if frozen.  Roll out dough and line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one crust. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, and spices. Mix gently until apples are coated and mixture appears moist.
  4. Pour apple mixture into dough-lined pie pan, filling evenly. If using crumb topping, spread it evenly over the top.  If using a rolled-out dough, place it gently over apple mixture, then seal edges to bottom crust and cut slits in top. 
  5. Trim off any overhanging dough and finish edges as desired.  Cover perimeter of pie with aluminum foil. 
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until top is golden.  Let cool slightly before cutting.
TIPS
*I prefer to buy pie dough from the store.  I use the refrigerated, unroll-and-fill kind.  So easy and tastes just as good as homemade!  
**The jury is still out on which variety of apple is best for a pie.  Some bakers even prefer a kind that others say never to use!  I grab whatever apples I have on hand, usually combining two different varieties, a sweet with a more tart.  My husband swears by Jonathan apples for his pie.  So, it’s really up to you!
***You may use 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice in place of the cinnamon and nutmeg.
ALLERGY INFO
This recipe is free of eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.  To make it dairy- and/or soy-free, carefully choose or make a pie dough with safe ingredients.  To make it wheat- or gluten-free, use rice flour or tapioca flour instead of the all-purpose flour, and choose a gluten-free pie dough mix or pre-prepared crust.  Always double-check ingredients, including cross-contamination risk based on your level of sensitivity and comfort.


Crumb Topping
This topping can be used in any fruit pie recipe (apple, cherry, peach, rhubarb, berry, etc.).  Add ¼ cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free, if needed) and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon with the dry ingredients to use it as the topping for a fruit crisp.


INGREDIENTS
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cold butter or margarine*
DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix brown sugar and flour together in large bowl.
  2. Cut in butter or margarine using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle and spread evenly on dessert before baking.
TIPS
* The amount of butter/margarine can be decreased to 3 Tablespoons, if desired, but I find it harder to work in; it takes longer to get to that “course crumb” stage, but it is slightly healthier.
ALLERGY INFO
This recipe is free of eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.  It can be made dairy- and/or soy-free by using a safe margarine, carefully choosing one made specifically for baking.  It can be made wheat- or gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour mix in place of the all-purpose flour.  Always double-check ingredients, including cross-contamination risk based on your level of sensitivity and comfort.

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