Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Our Apple Pie Recipe

The competition. :) 
Cutting the pies.
It is officially fall- my favorite season of the year. I love the colors, the scents in the air (which I think I captured really well in our "autumn woods" scent tart. Check it out on our Etsy Shop), and especially the warm, homey foods. The only thing that presents a delicious challenge to fresh salads of veggies picked and eaten cold and crisp from the garden on a hot summer day, is perhaps warm, hearty "fall" foods; soups full of garden veggies simmering all day, chunky marinara sauces, spicy salsas, fresh baked breads and dessert pies. Got your attention yet?

This past Saturday, I entered my first hometown apple pie baking contest at Searsport's Annual Fling into Fall celebration. Not as a lark. Not lightly. I trained for this event like a champ. My family was forced to endure apple pie upon apple pie in the weeks leading up to the contest. As they tried to enjoy their dessert, I peppered them with questions like, "Is the crust buttery and melt in your mouth delicious while maintaining its flaky integrity?" and "Do you think the Granny Smith's tartness is overpowering or complimentary to the Wolf River apple's sweetness?" Quizzical stares of the deer-in-a-head-light variety followed. That they came back for more of this kind of inquisition is, in and of itself, a testament to the deliciosity (coined word meaning: the highest state of deliciousness needing its own term) of these test pies. I toyed with my recipe, adding and omitting ingredients, experimenting with my technique until I felt I had found "The One".
Our Judges.

Here's How I Make Sonja's Official Third-Place Apple Pie~

Set oven to preheat at 425 degrees.

Sweet and Tart Apple Pie Filling:You'll need these ingredients:

4 Wolf River Apples (sweet apple)
4 Granny Smith Apples (tart apple)
1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1. Peel and core all the apples. Cut apples into slices. Place apple slices into a large bowl. Tip: Make sure to remove all hard pieces of the core from the apple slices.

2. Mix sliced apples with 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Set Aside while you make your pie crust. Some people add a little lemon juice to prevent the apples from turning brown while they sit, but I do not. I don't think it matters in this application.

3. Make your pie crust dough.

Thoughtful deliberation.
Flaky, Buttery, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pie Crust
You'll need these ingredients:

2 1/2 cups Unbleached Bread Flour (I use King Arthur Brand)
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon All Spice
2 sticks of Butter cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup cold water (the colder the better)
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat

1. Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon and all spice in a large bowl.

2. Cut in the butter (Do not substitute margarine here.) until you reach coarse, pea sized crumbles.

3. Add almost all of the cold water to the butter/flour crumbs and work into a ball. Be careful not to over-work the crust. If the crust is dry, add the rest of the water. If it combines easily, you may not need all the water.

4. Add the bacon fat to make the dough soft and workable, but not wet.

5. Cut dough in half, roll into two balls with the palms of your hands. Set one dough aside in the bowl.

6. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Carefully roll one dough into a circle slightly larger than your pie pan. Place dough into bottom of a pie pan so that the edge of the dough extends over the lip of the pie plate by 1/2-1 inch all the way around. Pour in your apple mixture from above and set the pie plate aside to roll out the top crust.

7. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Carefully roll out a rectangle shape from the reserved pie crust dough. The size depends on your pie pan. The dough needs to be long enough to span the diameter of the pie and wider than the pie by about half.

8. Cut the dough rectangle into 10 even strips along the shorter side. You'll use these to make a lattice design on the top of the pie. (Not sure how? This video shows you how: Lattice Pie Crust.)

My pie was entry #1.
The Magic Step That Makes This Pie SING
You'll need these ingredients:

1 stick Butter, sliced into tablespoon pieces
3 tablespoons Unbleached Bread Flour
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon All Spice
1/4 cup water

1. In a sauce pan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Do not let it brown.

2. Whisk in the flour to the melted butter until combined and cook this mixture for 1 minute stirring constantly. This cooks the flour before it bakes.

3. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and all spice and stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Add water and simmer until it reaches the consistency of thick maple syrup. Stir often. Do not let it burn. You want the sugars to take on a bit of caramel flavor, not burned sugar.

5. Carefully and slowly pour the sugar mixture into the openings of the lattice work of your pie crust and across the top of the pie. Be careful not to pour too quickly so that the sugar mixture runs off the crust and makes a mess. Most of it should live inside the pie with the apples. As the apples cook and release their juice, this mixture will absorb the juices to make your pie moist, but avoid it from becoming wet or runny. The sugar mixture on the top of the pie will brown and be amazingly delicious. Trust me.

6. Pop the apple pie into the oven. Turn down the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes. Your oven make take slightly more or less time so begin watching it a few minutes before and check it often. Your pie is done when you can easily pierce the apples through the hole in the lattice work and the crust is a nice medium golden brown.

This is the perfect time of the year to indulge on pies. If you make my recipe, I would love to hear back from you with your opinion and feedback. Third place felt pretty good, but I have a whole year to tweak my recipe before next year's contest. And, I have my eye set on that sweet 2nd place ribbon!

Thanks for stopping in for a visit today, friends.
~Sonja ♥

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