Remember that little apple conundrum I found myself in this week? Yep, I'm still there. Working on cooking and baking my way through that bushel of apples.
As I attempt to dig myself out of this "problem," I realized that I had no other option than to bake an apple pie. With from-scratch pie crust. And a crumb topping.
Don't you love problems where the only good solution is pie-baking?
Now, let's briefly chat pie crust before we begin. I had never made a from-scratch pie crust before. The delicate art of pie crust terrified me--there's so much hype about keeping things cold, maintaining a tender dough, and reaching a flaky consistency. Talk about intimidating. I just want some pie, okay?!
Sunday night, however, the courage came. I'm not sure if it was the bushel of apples sitting on the counter, begging me to give them from-scratch goodness, or if it was my fearless amateur baking self that was urging me on. Regardless, I pulled out the food processor, iced a bowl of water, and put on my pie-baking hat.
The result? A yummy pie crust filled with a delightfully oozing, cinnamon-infused, Apple Pie a la Yum. This little number was the perfect addition to our Labor Day family picnic spread.
My secret? National Public Radio's "The Splendid Table." Their recent feature on pie crust inspired me, and I'm happy to share their top two secrets for a perfect pie crust:
- Keep everything cold! Use cold butter and iced water, and refrigerate the dough between every step.
- Don't pulse the dough too much in the food processor. It should look a bit crumbly, like little pea-shaped, crumbly mini butter balls :)
- To see Lynne's complete guide to pie crust on NPR (and her amazing, full description on how to make one), check out the show's transcript here
If you've got an abundance of apples on the counter, it's time to get baking. Pull out your pie-crust making courage and join me for some Apple Pie a la Yum. Well, "a la mode" wouldn't be so bad either :)
Apple Pie a la Yum
When it comes to desserts in early fall, nothing beats the classic apple pie. Forget that pre-packaged, store-bought crust--you don't need the yucky extras they add! Bake this simple crust from scratch...and consider topping with a scoop of double-churned vanilla ice cream :)
(from Lynne Rossetto Kasper on NPR's "The Splendid Table")
- 1- 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
- 4 - 5 TBSP ice cold water
- 1 TBSP vinegar (makes the crust tender)
(from A Hungry Spoon herself :)
- About 8 cups thinly sliced apples (I leave the peels on. Love my fiber!)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
(from All Recipes.com)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 TBSP butter
- Sprinkling of cinnamon to taste
Optional (but is it really?): A scoop of french vanilla ice cream on top
1) Combine filling ingredients in a large bowl until evenly coated. Set aside. (Optional: If you love nuts, you could always add some chopped, toasted walnuts to the filling!)
2) To make crumb topping, combine flour, cinnamon (to taste), and brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter with a knife or fork until crumbly. Set aside.
3) To make the crust: Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Place in the food processor. Place butter chunks in the food processor and pulse until you get a rough mixture that looks like little peas in crumbles of flour. Place the crust mixture in a bowl, and add the ice water and vinegar. Lightly mix it in using your hands until you can form the dough into a ball (Don't over-mix!). Refrigerate the dough (if needed) for 20 minutes to keep it cold before rolling.
4) To prepare the pie: Use a flour-coated rolling pin to roll the pie crust out on a flour-coated surface (or a piece of wax paper works!). Place the pie crust in a 9 inch pie pan and flute the edges to fit. Pour apple filling into the crust. Sprinkle the crumb mixture to cover the top of the apples.
5) Cover the pie with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil, and bake for another 25 - 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned.
6) Allow pie to cool completely before cutting and serving. Don't forget the vanilla ice cream...