Sunday, December 30, 2012

Grammy's Apple Pie

Here goes nothing! I have been attempting to blog for the past couple years with very little progress. The first time, I was just looking for an outlet, a place to write, but had nothing guiding my writing. I soon fell off the wagon and completely forgot about my unattended, poor, neglected blog. Last year, I revisited this idea but with a subject in mind. With Pinterest slowly taking over my life and the adoption of my Grammy's old avocado green KitchenAide Mixer, I had re-sparked my love of baking and cooking and was convinced that penning a cooking blog was suddenly my calling. I published one post and it had nothing to do with food or cooking. It took me very little time to become discouraged in my talents and resources as I tried to chronicle my cooking endeavors. Why weren't my dishes looking like the mouthwatering morsels I was stumbling upon on Pinterest and Foodgawker?!

I abandoned that blog real quick.

Now I'm back. New blog, and new confidence. I am not going to let the fact that I am a very amateur photographer with an iPhone limit my posts. I won't let the fact that I don't even own an apron stop me from trying new techniques in the kitchen. I am going to share all the delicious secrets I know, try new dishes, share my failures and more with you. I realize that if I have an outlet, and an audience to hold me accountable, I will continue to go one step further and try new things. You can also all watch me get rounder as I eat all these fatty treats myself, so hold me accountable for a salad or two while you're at it.

I thought it would be fitting for my first post to be a recipe for every one's favorite dessert: apple pie. More than that, I'm sharing my Grammy's recipe. My Grammy, Alice Rosa Oerman, was the most talented baker I will ever know and is the sole person responsible for introducing me to the kitchen. The recipe I'm going to give you was a staple at every holiday in the Oerman household (and because I loved it so much I even had to have it on my birthday). To true die hard pie fans, this isn't a traditional pie- it's a tart. But I will stand by it and insist it is the best G.D. apple pie you will ever taste. The pie crust is made from scratch and when I was a kid, Grammy and I used Macintosh apples picked from the apple tree by the barn on her two-acre plot in Hollister. Nothing brings back those memories of flashlight tag, the old grandfather clock ringing at 7:00pm and family laughter like the smell of this pie. There's never leftovers. People beg me for the recipe time and time again when I bring it to other gatherings and holidays. You're going to want to make this pie again and again and again. Trust me.
My Grammy and my recreation of her famous apple pie.

If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes. This is the first time it's been written out, step-by-step and I'd like to know what you have problems with or have questions about. If making pie crust from scratch frightens you like it used to frighten me, you can cheat and buy a frozen pie crust (that's what  I used to do up until I became confident in my pie crust abilities). But let me tell you, NOTHING beats a homemade pie crust.


Grammy's Apple Pie

Crust (makes two pie crusts)

3 cups of flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup of Crisco
1 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold water

1. Measure flour, Crisco and salt into a large mixing bowl. Combine ingredients using either a pastry cutter or a fork (both methods work just fine. I grew up using a fork and it's still my preferred method of choice, although time consuming and carpel tunnel inducing. If you have a pastry cutter hand, do your wrist and fingers a favor and go that route). Continue to mash and mix the ingredients until the consistency resembles small crumbs.
3. Gradually mix in the cold water and gently form a dough. Divide dough into two round balls.
4. Lightly flour a flat surface and rolling pin with the reserved flour (I honestly just keep the flour bag within arms' reach so I can flour as needed).
5. Roll out the dough out with a rolling pin on the lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, occasionally rub more flour onto your rolling pin and check if the dough is sticking to the surface and add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking if necessary.
6. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate (I use the cheap tin pie plates you can buy with your spare change at the grocery store, like Grammy did, but you can also use your pretty glass pie plate if you have one). Gently press the pie dough down around the bottom edges so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough, about 1/2 inch from the edge of the pie dish.
7. Using your knuckle on one hand and your index and thumb on the other, pinch the edge of the pie dough around your knuckle, working around the perimeter of the pie. This will create a simple, scalloped pattern (I have unfortunately never chronicled this with photos because I only have two hands, but I promise this is really easy.)
8. If making two pies, repeat the process. You can also reserve the dough for something else (I love to make apple dumplings or cookies with it) or freeze it for later use.

Apple Pie

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. of flour
3 cup white sugar + more for pouring into crevices
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1 tbsp. of cold butter (NOT margarine), cut into 5 thin slices
4-5 medium sized Granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch slices
Cold water

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Peel, core and cut apples into 1 inch slices. They do not have to be uniform. I find myself cutting them into various sizes toward the end so they fit nicely into the crust. Keep the peeled apples in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from browning.

This is George, my kitchen assistant and official taste tester.
3. Mix the flour and sugar in a small bowl with a whisk until well-blended. Pour into the bottom of the pie crust and level.
4. Place the slices in the crust, cut-side down, in a circle. Lay the apples in layers up to the edge of the pie plate.
5. Fill all crevices with sugar and lightly sprinkle on top (This is an indeterminate amount of sugar. I just fill all the crevices and holes I see. If you know grandmothers, there's no such thing as too much sugar).
5. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.
7. Place the 5 thin slices of butter on top of the pie, one in the center and one on each side.
8. Pour cold water around the edges until it barely reaches the surface or you can just see it.
Into the oven they go!

9. Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake on the center rack of  the oven for one hour at 375 degrees.
10. Allow to cool, cut and enjoy! (Also, please be sure to have a slice for breakfast. It's the best that way).

Grammy's Apple Pie. Enjoy!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Requests? I'd love to hear your feedback.
Please don't be shy and leave a comment or contact me via e-mail. 
Happy baking! :)

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