Monday, March 27, 2006

World's Best Apple Pie - A Baking Lesson with Bea

I know many people claim to make the BEST apple pie in the world. But truly, this is the real deal folks. My mother's pies are famous. My cousins request a pie-of-the-month for their Christmas gift and never miss dropping by her house to pick theirs up. My mother has Yankee-traded her pies for flowers and garden plants (they always got the better end of the deal). She's shipped her pies all over New England and beyond. She shleps multiple pies in to Boston whenever she attends my brother's repertory dance show where a select few are blessed with one of her apple wonders. This is no regular pie. This is Bea's pie. The best there is.

Although I've watched my mother make apple pies a million times (I'd swear she could do it with her eyes closed), I have never made a pie myself. Two reasons: 1. Why would I bother when she's so great at it? and 2. How could I ever live up to her pies? Well, I decided to throw caution to the wind and ask my mother if she would teach me how to make her pie and pass on the joy that comes with eating a nice big slice. She kindly agreed to coach me through my first pie. And I have to say it went pretty well. The dough is definitely the trickiest part and to me, the most intimidating. But I think with a few more tries, I'll have it down. Bea has been kind enough to let me share her apple pie recipe with the world. It was tough to get her to nail down the ingredients since she obviously doesn't use a recipe. But I think we did it. Hope you enjoy it.

Bea's Apple Pie

2 cups flour
2/3 cup shortening
2 tbsp butter, unsalted
5 - 6 tbps of water (approximately)
5 - 6 apples (4 - 5 granny smith; for the other 1 or 2, use the apple of your choice)
1 cup of sugar plus an extra pinch to sprinkle on top of pie
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 strips of tin foil to cover the crust (about 1-1/2 inches wide)
About 2 tbsp of milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

The Bottom Crust
1. Blend shortening and butter together with a fork or wooden spoon.
2. Mix in the flour and a pinch of salt.
3. Add a tablespoon of water at a time. When you see that the dough is starting to come together, stop adding water.
4. Take the dough in your hands and work into a ball.
5. Refrigerate the dough in a bowl for 15 minutes, uncovered.

While you're waiting, peel the apples.

6. Take dough out of the fridge.
7. Wet your kitchen countertop with a sponge, lay down plastic wrap and flour it lightly. You can work directly on the counter but this makes for easier clean-up. Altenatively, you can lay parchment paper down which works great as well. The dough does not stick to it at all.
8. Take 1/2 of the dough and roll it out for the bottom crust. Add flour if rolling pin sticks to the dough. Roll from center out then from center back towards you NOT back and forth because it toughens the dough and may create holes.
9. Fold the dough and place it in the pie pan. Unfold it and readjust so it is centered in the pie pan.
10. Trim the dough about 1/2" around the pan.

The Filling
1. Slice the apples thin and place right into the pie pan. When you're done there should be a heap of apples higher than the pan.
2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon and spinkle over the entire apple surface.
3. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into 4 pieces and place in different areas of the pie over the apples and sugar.

The Top Crust
1. Roll out the remaining dough for the top crust. Follow technique described above in bottom crust instructions.
2. Fold the rolled out dough in half, make three slits toward the center for air to release while it's baking.
3. Gently unfold onto top of pie.
4. Cut 1/2" away from from the edge of the top dough layer.
5. Take the edges of both the bottom and top crust and fold it under (above the rim not below) a little at the time. Then crimp the edge all the way around between your thumb and first finger.

The Love
1. Cut a heart out of a piece of the leftover rolled out dough and place near the middle of the pie. Shows that you put just a little extra love into there.
2. Brush milk lightly over the top with a pastry brush or your fingers (not too much because it will burn).
3. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.

The Finishing Touch
1. Cover the edges of the crust with tinfoil to protect it from burning.
2. Bake for 50 minutes with tin foil on the crust. Bake a final 5 minutes with tin foil removed from crust.

Let it cool a bit before cutting. Delicious as is or with ice cream. A great dessert to make earlier in the day or even a day ahead.


Blogger Carol said...

Truly, this is the most sublime apple pie ever. I'm always an eager recipient! Yummmmmm!

5:42 PM  
Anonymous mansfield manga said...

no contest, the best pie in the entire world. I've tried others and it's like comparing an apple and an orange, completly and totally different. great job by the way, yours was delicious

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

The little one from Mansfield neglected to mention how often she has this pie for breakfast! It is the best pie ever - breakfast, lunch or dinner.

3:27 PM  

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