Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Apple Pie Day

No fireworks here: no sparklers, snakes (well, duh, it's Ireland)
Roman candles, no cones of fire. But we are hosting neighbors
for dinner: homemade pizza and apple pie. Here's my pie recipe:


1/2 cup butter
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
2 T. sugar
5 T. ice water
1 1/2 cups flour

I use a Cuisinart to make my crust, but if you don't have one,
I'll include manual instructions in a sec.
This is a very easy crust recipe to work with -- if made
properly, the dough handles like play-dough.
In food processor bowl put chunked-up butter, egg yolk,
salt, sugar and water. Process with metal blade, quick ons-and-offs,
until the mixture approaches pea-shaped pieces. Add the flour
and turn processor on until the mixture just begins to form
a ball. Scrape onto waxed paper or plastic wrap, flatten into
a disk, wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Lacking modern technology, place dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add chunked-up butter and cut-in with a pastry blender,
or if you're really primitive, used two table knives, cutting the
blades together. (I know this sounds really weird but it works
if you're patient. ) Continue until the mixture approaches pea-
shaped pieces. Whisk egg yolk with water and add to flour-butter
mixture, and mix quickly with a fork until it begins to hold together.
Working the dough too much will result in a hard, tough finished


Apples -- I prefer a mixture of golden delicious
and Granny Smiths -- the goldens because of the sweetness
and because they soften up nicely in the oven; the GS
because of their slight tartness and firmness.

I use about 8 apples -- four of each, give or take
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 t. cinnamon
dash salt
2 T. butter

Peel and slice-up apples into large bowl;
toss with flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt.
No need to mix dry ingredients together first --
just toss them all together. Hands work well for this!

Roll out pie dough, fill with apple mixture, dot with butter,
top with remaining crust. At this point you can glaze
the top of the pie if you want -- many things do the trick:
an egg yolk whisked with a tablespoon of water, milk,
or just plain old water. A sprinkling of sugar adds sparkle
and the glaze holds the sugar in place.
Be sure to cut vents in the top crust!

Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 10-12 minutes,
then lower heat to 365 until crust is dark golden
and filling has begun to bubble. The temperature
is a tricky thing. It all depends on your own oven
and whether or not it runs hot or cold. It's going to be
tricky for me today, because I'm dealing with celcius
oven temps and even though I've done the conversion,
it always runs hot. Plus it's a convection oven.
Every time we come to Ireland I have to readjust
to this oven.

I love this apple pie! There is always lots of debate
in pie circles (are there really "pie circles"?!)
about whether to use lard, shortening only, butter only,
or a combination. And then there are those
who swear by the addition of vinegar to the crust,
and I've even read recently of a pie crust recipe
using vodka. Hmm. My French roots scream out for
the all-butter version. Plus, it's better for you.
And think of this: if you cut a pie into eight slices
and eat only one slice (yeah right), you are only
consuming 1.5 tablespoons of butter. Not really that much
in the scheme of things. And the egg yolk fat is negligible
when you divide it by eight.


Back in the 1960's and into the 70's, my mom and I
used to devote an entire summer day to pie-making.
When the "pie apple" tree out back began to groan under
the weight of its abundance, we carted heaving boxes
of green apples to the kitchen and began our marathon.
The most pies we ever made in a day was 29, which we froze
and enjoyed one a week throughout the fall and winter.
Those were hazy, hypnotic days, the air afloat with flour,
peels curling from a brimming sink. No surface was without
a pie tin. This was where I learned to pare -- quickly! -- with
a sharp and efficient paring knife, and where I learned to enjoy
the taste of an apple slice coated with its flour/sugar mixture.
Heaven! Leftover bits of dough were rolled flat, buttered,
sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, then rolled-up, sliced
and baked. We called them "roundies."


  1. I use the same recipe. When you make your crust do you use THE MACHINE? I run my fingers under cold water until they're practically numb and break the butter into the flour by hand. It's harder but makes a flakier crust because I only handle it just so (barely, like biscuits.) I use golden delicious or reds, but I'm related to an apple orchard ;) Also, I cut my apples into very small pieces. I don't like pulling a quarter slice of an apple out of a pie. Haha. I could talk about baking for hours.

    ps. Do you have a pie bird? Do you use it? I don't but I'd love to have one just to have one. I listen a lot when I bake. Pies and cakes tell you when they're done, they sigh.

    See?? Hours. Sheesh.


  2. Ha! You think YOU could talk for hours....! I was just in town looking for a pastry blender because I abhor doing the knife trick but I think I'll do your fingers trick. And yes, definitely just so!! (We speak the same language.) Oh...couldn't find a pastry blender, but then, the pie crusts here are from another planet. (Ugh.) When I roll out my pie dough (and biscuits, scones), there is a time when I close my eyes and let the muscle memory kick in. It's the best therapy I've ever done. But I better get baking! Running out of time here....

  3. I was going to ask if you knew about Sylvia Plath and her obsessive baking. I do the same when I am stressed. I bake like mad. This is why I hold my annual Sylvia Plath Bake Off every February 11.

  4. ps. Your most amazing card arrived yesterday. I have spent all morning pondering it's soft texture and colors and stamps and maps and wonderfulness. Thank you, thank you. It holds a position of honor, on the piano.

  5. I did not know about Sylvia's baking obsession...glad you liked the card!