I don’t think I have actually baked a pie from scratch before; unless “baking” with your mom as a kid counts …
What I am finding out though, not having baked a pie before is the last of my problems. I have been trying to get this post out since, Canadian Thanksgiving. Appropriate of course. Missed that one. Moved it to American Thanksgiving, which lasts even longer than here, but for some reason I didn’t find that appropriate enough and thought, hey, why not Christmas? All of sudden here we are December 28, well past any common sense date of needing any of this information. So, I’m offering up my journey (and a recipe) if you will ever just so, oblige me and my bribery.
I was treading in new territory for sure when Thanksgiving rolled around. I relish in Christmas baking, but pies? I was determined. And what does determination get you? Pies. It gets you pies. Late nights. And, pies.
And this post.
What I didn’t realize (being a southern Ontario girl living in the prairies) is how north we really are. Fall apple picking season ends by August, September if you’re lucky and in October, all you get is crab apples. Yum. And the excitement to give them away was beyond words. You don’t say.
Chef was a good sport supporting my incessant need to find an apple orchard with actual apples for picking, until we came across this neat little fact about seasons, and how quickly it was over.
Off to the store we went.
Good to know: cut all your apples pre-baking. Keep them fresh in a big bowl of cold water and lemons. The acidity will keep them from going brown and you get all the icky work done first.
Holidays are celebrated together with other families like ours – transplants. Moving away taught us to rely on the people around us, where in good times and bad you come to support, laugh, make fun of each other, just like family.
I was epically excited when I found out we were responsible for dessert this year! (We were responsible for ham & turkey too, but that’s Chef’s department, and sooo boring).
On the menu, apple pie and crumble.
I have been leaning on chef for his recipes more than normal lately. I had a hard and fast rule not to ask, for one simple reason – if the recipe didn’t work, I couldn’t blame him. Complete sense. Now, I lean on him a little more for a recipe or two, and guess what … we’re still smiling. And eating better too!
But to the important stuff, pie dough 101. There are a few things I learned on my first day of ‘dough making’. The first.. buy it. Just kidding. Sorta…
It’s not easy. It’s time consuming. It requires physical strength. Mixing, kneading, resting and rolling. And, if you mess it up you can do it all over again – yipee!
First rule: Get a mixer. Preferably a teal KitchenAid, and yes the colour matters. If you’re not excited to pull it out and use it, then it’s not worth it. Just seeing the teal makes me giddy and starts everything off, just right.
Use the paddle – not the dough hook. Why you ask? Follow me and find out…
As I put the paddle on my mixer, Chef: “Pull up and watch a YouTube video on how to make pie dough with a KitchenAid mixer. I have only made this recipe by hand”. (It’s replayed in my head with a very whiny voice and, aren’t you special, at the end). Chef was convinced we needed to use the dough hook.
I (always) question Chef. So in the spirit of giving, I gave him the day off. Three videos, two recaps and then finally getting his attention… If I haven’t said it already, use the paddle. Not the dough hook.
(I didn’t provide a pie dough recipe, largely in part that I was unhappy with the final outcome. Follow these notes on any pie dough recipe, and you will be in better shape than when you started. Promise.)
After the dough has been mixed it’s time for the dough to rest (1 hour). The dough has to be made into two equal size balls wrapped in saran, for resting
What you need to know: When preparing the dough for rest into two balls, it has to be kneaded by hand, well enough so no cracks exist. If there are cracks then the dough will break at the rolling stage, and it becomes difficult to get your desired crust.
Also, the saran has to be wrapped tight, little to no air pockets.
(2 hours later)
I enlisted “man” help at this point. After two hours in the fridge the dough was rock hard!
To really understand the impact of my poor kneading job…my patched up pie crust.
I might as well have said Charlotte put it together. The desired crust thickness wasn’t up to me anymore, it was all up to the dough.
Tip: If you have time to knead it and rest it again, go ahead! We were in the 11th hour and that wasn’t happening.
The best part of the night was the look on his face when I showed him how I wanted my pie top to look. Because let’s be honest presentation is everything. He scoffed and told me to, “Focus on getting the dough right, Martha”.
Well, I may not have gotten what I wanted but as luck would have it, that horrible dough was able to get me a beginner’s weave for my pie top. As for the edging, I was handed a fork (bo-ring).
Next on the list, apple crumble.
This was much easier. Much, much, much easier.
What you need to know: add apple juice to the dish, before putting it in the oven, it will build flavour while it cooks. Also, it may seem like a lot of crumble, but it will fall between the apples and sink down – so pile it all on!
The night came to a close around midnight, I didn’t fully want to throw my husband under a bus and the house smelled delicious. Successful in my books folks.
As promised, my token of bribery….
Chefs Apple Crumble Recipe
1 c. all-purpose flour, 2/3c. packed dark brown sugar, 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. salt, 8 tbsp/1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled.
2 pounds firm, sweet apples (4-5 medium – large apples), up to 1/4 c. water or apple juice
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients needed for the Topping. Add the butter pieces and use your fingers to incorporate the butter into all of the dry mixture (want it to resemble course crumbs). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate).
Cut apples lengthwise (remove apple core). Cut again in 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices. Add slices to ungreased 8inch baking dish. Pour in water/juice. Add crumble evenly, do not press down.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 – 50 minutes, or until apples are tender and you can pierce through with a knife. Let cool for 10 minutes.