I have three “would love”s on my list today. I would love the clutter in my house to be gone. Just gone. I would love to make pie — I’m in a pie-making kind of mood, I guess. And I would love to call my mom for a chat.
I will never claim to be the perfect daughter by any stretch of the imagination. As a perfectionist trying to live up to a perfectionist mother’s standards, it could get tough. I never called as often as I probably should have. Do I have regrets about that? No, not really. While my sister is cut out to be a super stay-at-home mom and seemed completely content to share every detail about that with Mom, I honestly didn’t find enjoyment in sharing every little detail about folding laundry, changing diapers, etc. with my mom. Now, what I made for supper or a new cookie recipe… that’s a different story. Did not calling every day or even every week mean I didn’t care about my mom? Not in the least!
So while I don’t have regrets, I do have moments when I miss having her available for a conversation. I would love to thank her for leaving that container of turbinado sugar in the pantry — it’s added that little extra “special” to my baking. I guess I wouldn’t mind telling her I just ironed twelve shirts and a dress. Ugh. I sure could use her perspective right now about how she got through all those years when the going was tough. I wouldn’t mind another of her random mailings of grocery store endcap cookbooks and bags of chocolate chips, either.
But that’s okay. I may miss her a lot at times, but I wouldn’t want anything but heaven for her right now. I’ll see her soon enough. Until then, my house may be cluttered and my kitchen may be messy with the makings of pie. I guess I can live with that. Maybe I can pay someone with pie to come and de-clutter my house. I think I’d like that. Or maybe I can ignore the clutter, make some pie, and enjoy it along with a conversation with a dear friend or two. Yeah, I think I would love that, too. 🙂
I’ve combined elements from a variety of recipes from sources such as Better Homes & Gardens, Betty Crocker, and America’s Test Kitchen. First, I essentially make enough dough for a double-crust and a single-crust pie. This may not seem like good advice and I’m sure experts would tell me I’m wrong, but it’s always ensured that my bottom crust isn’t too thin to support the filling. Then by borrowing an idea from America’s Test Kitchen for using vodka to make a flaky crust, I figured that vanilla extract is mostly alc0hol and would impart a nice flavor to the crust, so I added a bit of that before the water (to make sure it wouldn’t turn out soggy). I also subbed brown sugar for the normal white sugar, figuring it could add a slight caramel note to the crust. Perfect for apple pie, I think. Most of the filling is from ATK which may seem like skimping on spice, but it lets the apples shine through. Baking instructions are also from ATK.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 1/3 cup cold margarine
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 9-10 tablespoons cold water
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 7-8 medium apples, peeled and sliced about 1/4″ thick (I try to use a mix of apples here, for sweet and tart, making sure they’re apples that will hold their shape during baking and not turn to mush; America’s Test Kitchen recommends Granny Smith and McIntosh. I like to use Jonathan, when they’re available.)
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 slightly beaten egg white
- 1-2 Tbsp. sugar (turbinado works well here)
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening and margarine until pieces are pea-size.
- Sprinkle vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork or spoon. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. Divide in half. Form each half into a ball. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- On lightly floured surface, flatten 1 dough ball. Roll into a 12-inch circle.
- To transfer pastry, wrap it loosely around the rolling pin; unroll onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with other dough ball. Refrigerate both crusts for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in large bowl (sometimes I use the same one from the dough, if it’s big enough; the “classic” large yellow Tupperware bowl works well, too). Add apples and lemon juice; toss. (This is the place where the Tupperware bowl comes in really handy — cover and toss.)
- Adjust oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet (or baking stone) on the rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.
- Remove dough from refrigerator. Using the rolling pin again, roll dough around and ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Add apple filling, mounding in middle a bit. Loosely wrap top pie crust around rolling pin and gently place over the filled bottom crust.
- Trim all but 1/2 inch of the dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate. Press the top and bottom crusts together, tuck edges underneath, and crimp together around the pie plate with fingers or fork.
- Brush top crust with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Place pie on heated baking sheet (or stone), reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees, and bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degress, rotate the baking sheet, and continue to bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 4 hours.
Makes 8 servings.