Picture this, it's two days before the Holidays and your Mother-in-law, relative, someone you want to impress, calls to say you are on "Pie Duty" (and no store bought pie will do)! WHAT? You’ve NEVER baked anything in your life, let alone a holiday PIE! For the entire family! And of course, the Great American Bake Show doesn't have an apple pie episode you can YouTube. This is an emergency! What do you do?
There is no need to call 911! You’ve got this! Just follow these easy steps and time-honored recipes and you can turn this pie emergency into a success!
First up, is a tried and true flaky pie crust recipe- taken from the “greats” and now passed on to you.
This recipe can be used for one or two crust pies and is best suited for a fruit pie as it is not too sweet but incredibly flaky. What makes the crusts so flaky? The secret… ice water and frozen shredded butter! Place a cup with water and ice in the freezer before you start preparing and combining the dry ingredients. Right before you are ready to add the butter take the butter from the freezer and shred it with a cheese grater.
Pie Crust Recipe:
For one pie crust-
1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold (frozen and shredded) unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
For two pie crusts-
2 1/2 cups (about 11 ounces) all-purpose bleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) frozen shredded unsalted butter
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
To mix the dough by hand; combine flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Shred frozen butter and add to dry ingredients. Toss once or twice to coat pieces of butter. Then using your hands or a pastry blender, pinch and squeeze it into the dry ingredients. Keep the mixture uniform by occasionally reaching down to the bottom of the bowl and mixing all the ingredients evenly together. Continue blending the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible.
Sprinkle the minimum amount of water over the butter and flour mixture and stir gently with a fork the dough should begin holding together. If the mixture still appears dry and crumbly, add the remaining water, 1 teaspoon at a time for the 1 crust dough, a tablespoon at a time for the two-crust dough, until the dough holds together easily.
To mix the dough in the food processor, combine flour, salt and baking powder in work bowl fitted with metal blade. Pulse 3 times at 1 second intervals to mix. Add shredded butter to work bowl. Process, pulsing repeatedly at 1 second intervals, until the mixture is fine and powdery, resembles a coarse ground cornmeal and no butter remain visible about 15 pulses in all.
Scatter the minimum amount of water on the butter and flour mixture and pulse 5 or 6 times the dough should begin holding together. If the mixture still appears dry and crumbly, add the remaining water, 1 teaspoon at a time for one crust dough, one tablespoon at a time for the two-crust dough, until the dough holds together easily.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a disk (two equal disks for the larger amount of dough). Sandwich the disk(s) of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and press it into a 6 inch circle. Refrigerate the dough until firm, or until you are ready to use it, at least 1 hour.
The dough can be used for any creamy filling pie, or any fruit pie like Apple, Mincemeat, cherry, etc.….
Next is one of my favorite Apple Pie recipes from my great grandmother, who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen on the west side of Manhattan in NYC. EVERYTHING in my family was healed, fixed, or discussed over a slice of Nona’s pie.
Nona’s Apple pie recipe
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom/ or ginger (whatever you have or prefer)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 to 7 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples ( I use a mixture or Cortland, macs, granny smith)
1 teaspoon a vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pastry for a two crust (above)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 large egg white
Sugar to sprinkle on pie (optional)
In a bowl, combine the sugars, flour and spices - set aside. Peel, core and slice apples. (Nona always peeled her apples in one full skin, never breaking it, we always practiced with her in the kitchen) Toss until coated apples, lemon juice, vanilla extract and spice-sugar mixture.
Remove your pie crust from the refrigerator and roll onto a well-floured surface. Line a 9 inch pie pan with the bottom crust. Fill with apples, slice butter and place through out the filling. Roll out the top crust and place on top of pie. Put a few slits into top of pie to vent, trim crust to fit and then pinch and seal all the way around the pie.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees before you start making the pie. Once pie complete and ready to bake, lower oven to 375 degrees. Place pie on middle rack on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Pie will be done when it is golden brown and bubbling.
Whatever your "emergency" this Holiday, remember, it's as easy as pie and you've got this!