As fall is making itself known, with cooler weather and trees starting to dress themselves in red and gold, it is the perfect time for pie making! A few weeks ago, we visited our local orchard to do some apple picking. Among the haul was a bag of Cortland apples. The level of flavor and acid in these apples makes them perfect for baking. And so, that’s what we did.
I actually made up the pastry last night and neglected to take pictures. Nothing special, I just look up a recipe on the net (for this time this is it) and follow it. Haven’t followed the same one twice yet they always seem to work. What that says to me is that technique trumps over recipe here. For me that means keeping things cool, not cutting the lard (always lard, not shortening) too finely, and not overworking it once you add in your liquid.
Our counter top is soapstone. In my opinion it is the best counter material you could ever ask for and does a good job of keeping things cool. In any case, pastry was made and wrapped up in cling wrap over night.
Getting the apples ready is the main job in a good apple pie. You can never have too many so it is good to have tools to speed along the peeling and coring. We actually have two implements, one traditional metal one and one modern plastic Starfrit one. The Starfrit is an amazing peeling machine removing only a thin layer of apple. It does not do any additional functions however.
The traditional metal peels, cuts, and cores the apples. The peeling action is less than efficient, however, often resulting in missed sections. Even when it does peel, it takes a thick layer of flesh with it so a lot of the apple is wasted.
The answer is to first peel the apples with the Starfrit and follow that up with cutting and coring on the traditional machine. With the help of two of the girls, it is a very efficient production line. They had all the apples ready long before I could get the pastry rolled out and placed into the pans.
To the apples, I added a couple of heaping tablespoons of flour, some sugar (3/4 cup?), salt, vanilla extract, and some spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves). I don’t really have any measurements as I just do it by eye. Every pie is a little different – it’s a nice surprise!
The End Result
Once the apples are ready and the pastry is rolled, it is just a matter of putting the pies together, brushing with egg wash, sprinkling a little sugar on, and popping them in the oven. Any left over pastry can be re-rolled, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, cut into pieces, and baked.
First, this gives a nice little treat that gives you a sense of how the pie is going to turn out. Second, and more important in my opinion, is that it reminds me of growing up where my mom would do the same thing when making a pie. My brother and I loved to eat the baked pastry.
So, after about an hour in the oven at 400 degrees F, the pies are ready.
Based on the look of the crust at the edge combined with the off-cuts we had earlier, I’d say that these will be delicious and very flaky!
For those of you that are wondering if I make all our pies, I don’t. Here is a picture of one of my pies sitting next to a giant pumpkin pie from Costco that we are saving for supper tomorrow. Yes, the pumpkin is bigger and I’m sure will be good but you gotta admit, my apple pie looks much more delicious.
For all my fellow Canadians – Happy Thanksgiving!
EDIT: For those of you that were wondering – the pies turned out great!