Tag Archives: apples

Classic Apple Pie

A couple weeks ago, I saw a #lovethepie hashtag float by in my stream, and thought “what a great idea! I love pie!” So, even though this poor Canuck can’t possibly win any of the fantastic prizes from TidyMom’s Love The Pie party, I wanted to get in on it anyway, just for the love of pie. My husband had a simple request: if I wanted to make a pie, it had to be apple. I thought about going fancy, about all kinds of ways to freshen it up, but ultimately I came back to a very simple, traditional, classic apple pie.

The classic apple pie holds a very special place in my heart. My grandmother used to have two apple trees in her back yard, and every year we’d start picking near the end of the summer and make dozens of apple pies. It was also at her house that I was allowed to have pie for breakfast, and I often did. I learned the fine art of pastry in her kitchen, about the importance of ice-cold fats and water, and handling the pastry as little as possible. It took me many years to work out the kinks but I finally have, and now I make pastry with confidence, and it rarely fails.

My pie plate is a special one, too. My husband bought it for me as a souvenir from a trip to Whitefish, Montana. We stumbled across an artisan potter in our walking tour of the town, and this pie plate spawned an obsession with pottery and other unique and handmade dishes. It has a special place in my cupboards, and I use it whenever I can. I love a good deep-dish pie, and this pie plate is the perfect one for a nice thick pie.

A little about this recipe – if you like sweet pie, you may want to increase the amount of sugar in it, or use an apple that’s sweeter than Granny Smiths. I happen to have a quarter of a bushel of Grannys in my basement, so I used those. If I’m buying apples to make pie, I like to do a 50/50 mix of Grannys and Galas or Golden Delicious. The recipe as written is quite tart and the pastry is unsweetened, but I find that’s the perfect complement to a scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. I also make my pastry with all butter, but you can just as easily substitute some of the butter for lard or shortening, whatever you choose. Whatever you add, though, make sure that it’s straight from the fridge, since cold fat is of the utmost importance for a flaky crust. This recipe is also perfect for a 9-10″ deep-dish pie, so if you have a smaller pie plate, scale the recipe accordingly.

Classic Apple Pie

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (6 oz) cold butter, cubed
1 tsp vinegar
6-8 Tbsp ice water

8-9 large apples
Lemon juice & water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup instant tapioca
2 Tbsp butter
1 egg
1 tsp water
cinnamon & sugar

In a food processor, combine flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated and resembles coarse meal. With the food processor running, add vinegar and ice water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just starts to come together and form a ball. Remove pastry from the food processor and split into two balls – a slightly larger one for the bottom crust, and a slightly smaller one for the top crust. Cover in plastic wrap, flatten into discs and refrigerate for an hour or two.

While the pastry is in the fridge, prepare the filling. Peel, core, and slice apples, tossing the prepared slices into a large bowl with a few tablespoons of water and a splash of lemon juice to keep them from browning. When complete, drain the excess liquid from the apples and add sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and tapioca. Toss to combine.

Roll out the larger ball of pastry into a circle big enough to fit into your pie plate and leave an inch of overhang. Ease the pastry into the pie plate, lifting the edges and gently pushing it into place around the edges. Pur in your prepared apples, dot with butter and set aside.

Roll out the smaller ball of pastry into a circle big enough to cover the top of the pie, and also leave an inch of overhang. Place the top crust gently over the filling, adjusting it carefully to cover everything. Put a little milk in a small cup or bowl, and dip a finger in it. Go around the pie, lifting the top crust a bit and using the milk-dipped finger to moisten the lower crust. Push the top crust into the moistened bottom crust to seal the pastry together. With a pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, trim the excess pastry from around the edge of the pie, leaving about 3/4″ of overhang. Go around the edge of the pie again, folding the edge of the pastry under to form a nice thick crust, and flute as desired.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Use a pastry brush to paint the egg wash lightly over the entire top crust of the pie. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and cut vents to allow steam to escape. Bake your pie at 375F for 45-60m, until golden brown on top, and apples are soft when poked with a toothpick. If the pie begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil to prevent burning.

What’s your favourite kind of pie?

Salted Caramel Sauce

I love caramel, and anything even remotely close. It’s one of my go-to ice cream toppings, and when I was a kid those little Kraft caramel candies are in my top 5 of my all-time favourite things to find in my pillowcase of candy. I’ve always bought it, because quite frankly, anything that requires a candy thermometer scares the pants off me. But lately I’ve been seeing pins for salted caramel sauce popping up on Pinterest, so I figured if they can do it, so can I.

So I did. And so help me, sweet baby jesus, I will never, ever buy a stabilizer-filled, preservative-laden caramel sauce in the grocery store again. EVER. Like, never ever. You would have to hold a gun to my head to get me to buy it. This is absolutely divine. It’s sweet and oh-so-faintly salty, caramel perfection made in my own kitchen. Why did it take me so long to try this? It’s beyond easy and came together in under 15 minutes. Local friends, pardon the spoiler, but this will certainly be added to my gifts this year.

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp pink himalayan salt (or fleur de sel, grey salt, sea salt or kosher salt)

In a 2-quart saucepan (not smaller!), pour in water. Add sugar gently to the middle of the pan – it will probably mound and begin to melt into the water, but DO NOT STIR. Cover pot and place over high heat until it comes to a boil. Once the sugar water is boiling, stick a candy thermometer in it and continue to boil over high heat until it reaches 300 degrees and is a lovely pale amber colour. At 300 degrees, crank the heat down to medium and boil until it reaches 350 degrees on the candy thermometer, and is a deep, rich amber hue. Remove from heat.

In the meantime, pour cream into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. If the cream simmers before the sugar is ready, simply cover and remove from the heat.

Add a little of the warm cream to the hot sugar, about a quarter of it. Be careful, this will bubble up a lot. Add the rest of the cream slowly, and when the bubbling subsides, whisk gently to incorporate. Add butter and salt and whisk until the butter is melted and everything is combined.

Pour into a jar, and enjoy! Makes about 2 cups.

I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly

Hello there! I’m excited about having the opportunity to guest blog here!

I recently tweeted about having an excess of crabapples from the tree at our new house. Our resident domestic goddess, Samantha, suggested that I make crabapple jelly. Anyone who knows me knows that domesticity is NOT my forte. The thought of canning gave me the cold sweats. However, with the promise that it was easy and that I really could do it (as well as 20lbs of apples that I had no clue what to do with and a sale on jars at the grocery store), I decided I had nothing to lose. I used this recipe at Samantha’s suggestion.

First, I started with 6lbs of apples (which wasn’t as much as I thought it was!)

Next step was to cut off the stem and blossom ends (I was very happy I didn’t have to peel or core them all).  Then, I covered them with 6 cups of water in a dutch oven.  I boiled them for 10 minutes, then mushed them up with a potato masher, and cooked for another 5 minutes. 

Now, the recipe says to use a jelly bag to drain the juice out.  Being that this was my first attempt, a jelly bag was not something I had kicking around in my kitchen.  Samantha told me that I could line a colander with cheesecloth and let it sit and I’d get the same result, so that’s what I did.  I put the colander in a bowl while I dumped the contents of the pot in, but then transferred it back to the pot to finish draining because it needs to be slightly elevated to allow for proper draining.

The biggest thing to note here is DO NOT SQUEEZE!!  In order to get nice and clear jelly, you need to allow the juice to just drain on its own.  Now, I know that there’s the “do not squeeze” rule about pimples that people sometimes think is OK to break, but really, resist the urge.  Walk away from the apples.

Once the juice is completely drained (which took a few hours!), you add 4 1/2 cups of sugar and stir it together.  Before you start heating the mixture, put several teaspoons in the freezer for testing if it has reached the jelly stage later.  You should also, at this point, get your jars boiling in your canning pot (with at least an inch of water over the top of the jars) for 10 minutes.  They need to be hot when you put the jelly in.  You should also prep your lids – put them in a pot of boiling water as well (just the seal part, not the ring part). 

Now you get to start really cooking!  Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then boil for 15-18 minutes, until the jelly stage has been reached.  You must stir the mixture constantly (don’t I look excited?).

In order to test if the jelly stage has been reached, take a frozen spoon and dip it into the mixture.  When you pull it out, it should “sheet” off of the side instead of dripping off.  (My apologies at this point.  I wanted to take pictures of this to illustrate, but the whole process took longer to do than I thought, and hubby and I had supper reservations that we had to get to and I still wasn’t dressed…)  Once this is ready, remove from heat (and make sure you’ve got your jars out of the canner). Skim the foam off the jelly.  Using a funnel, pour the jelly into the jars, leaving 1/4″ of space at the top.  Wipe off the lips of the jars.  Put the lids on, and then the rings.  Tighten until resistance is met, then fingertip tighten.  Put the jars back into the canner (ensuring still covered by about an inch of water – and yes, you can just use the same water that you boiled the jars in) and boil them for 10 minutes to seal them.

From this recipe, I got 5 jars of jelly.

As you can see, it turned out nice and clear (I resisted the urge to squeeze)!

That’s it!  It turned out great, and my kids love it.  I especially love that I can give it to my baby, since I know what’s in it, and it’s not a berry jam.  I feel so rewarded when I look at the jars in my cupboard (I’ve since made another batch, which also turned out well). Part of me wants to give them away, but part of me wants to save it all for my family – it’s really yummy!  I do still have about another 10lbs of apples to deal with, so I may end up with more jelly than I can eat, but I DID IT! I never thought I’d ever (a) be inclined to can anything, and (b) do it successfully!

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