I have an emotional attachment to my Cuisinart. It’s a food processor, from 1975, when that’s about all they made. It wasn’t mine originally. It was a gift from a husband to a wife. My rescue parents.
Growing up I waited (as did most kids) for my real (cooler, kinder, more together) parents to rescue me from the home that had raised me until puberty hit. No offense meant to my biological family, after all you were surely there as teens yourself. My rescue parents were real. They were friends of my mother. They were not a perfect couple, or perfect parents. They were perfect for me. They did indeed rescue me, brought me to the cold winters and hot summers of New England. They gave me a little extra time in the nest, to be spoiled and learn things that I appreciated then, as well as some I’d fail to appreciate until years later..
At some point after I left home my rescue mom gave me the Cuisinart. At first I used this workhorse to chop, shred and mix everything. I used it like a rented horse- lots of miles and little concern. Lately, though, I’ve come to appreciate that this can’t be replaced. I’m aware of it’s emotional value. I love my rescue parents. As I age, so do they. I’m not ready to cope with the eventual loss of these treasures in my life. This food processor is tangled up in my heart with the end of my childhood, the tentative branching out to independence and the people who protected me with a safety net of love. I’m aware of the strain I’ve put on the Cuisinart (and them, but that’s another story!). I pamper it now, I’m afraid of the funny sounds it makes if I ask it to shred carrots, to chop ice. I’m starting to find other ways of doing things. I’m sparing it, bringing it out for ceremonial dishes and easy runs.
I always used the Cuisinart to make pie crust. I’ve found another way to make crust. Instead I’m using the large hole setting on my box grater to shred frozen butter. I now mix it right into the bowl, without chopping and grinding. It works well. I made some pies for a pot luck affair on Wednesday The pie is the same, crust just as flaky.
My rescue parents live almost 2 hours away, and I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. It’s something I need to do more often. I’m planning to make another pie this week. This one I’ll take to their home.
In a large bowl mix 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar. Using a grater with large holes, shred 12 ox frozen (salted) butter over dry mix. Use your fingers to toss this around so each piece of butter is lightly covered with flour. Now add 1/4 cup shortening or lard(if you really love them, use lard. You won’t be sorry). Use a pastry blender, fork or (see my) broken spatula to mix it together.
Now add ice cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together as a moist dough. Divide the dough into two equal halves and wrap in plastic wrap, shaping into a disc (this photo shows 4, I’d doubled the recipe for 2 pies). Place these into fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
Now for the filling: Peel and thickly slice the apples. I used about 3 lbs of Macintosh with 3 large granny smiths. I like to saute them briefly. First put them into a large bowl with 1/4 cup lemon juice. I also add lemon zest from at least one of the lemons. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 pinch ground cloves and a pinch of nutmeg. The spice mixture can be changed to suit your preference. You can add allspice, more or less of anything, whatever your want.
In a saucepan melt 1/2 stick (salted) butter. Toss in all the apple mixture, and saute until the liquid starts to leave the apples, but before they are cooked through (apples should still have some crispness). This took about 8 minutes on medium-high for me. Stoves vary greatly- use your judgement. Now I remove the apples to a bowl, and continue to simmer the liquid in the pan, reducing it until it makes a thick sauce. While doing this be sure to taste and adjust the sauce until you really love it. I ended up adding more lemon. Now- this is optional- I don’t like a really wet pie. I added about 3 tablespoons of corn starch at the end. Whisk it into the sauce and it thickens up quickly.
Preheat oven to 425f. I put a pizza stone in my oven (okay- I really just leave it there almost all the time). It gets super hot, and will ensure the bottom crust is not soggy. Therefore, I don’t prebake the crust. Go ahead- call my lazy.
Now get the dough out, sprinkle your surface and place the dough on the flour. Press it into the flour, flip it and press again. This should be enough to keep it from sticking. Brush the extra flour away, roll the dough out until it’s at least 2″ larger than the diameter of your pie pan. Place it in pan (try folding it in half, pulling it over pan and spreading it back out).
Artfully arrange (dump) your apples on top of the crust. Pour the thick, yummy apple-spice sauce over the apples. Repeat the rolling out thing with the other crust. Place the dough on top. Sometimes, when I’m feeling fancy, I’ll take the extra dough and roll up little balls to decorate the edge of the pie crust. Then too, instead of just cutting little slices into the top to vent, I’ll use tiny cookie cutters to cut out little shapes (apples, leaves, ducks) from the top crust and artfully arrange them over the cut outs. That’s not happening today. I’m hobbling around the kitchen on an aircast, trying to rest my foot a bit. This is the other kind of pie: the one where I grab a handful of crust at the edges and just squeeze it together, leaving a whole lot of thick crust at the sides. I actually used kitchen scissors to snip some air vents. I’ll be it tastes the same.So- anyway, brush some cream (or if you don’t have cream, beaten egg white) on top of the crust and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Put into that 425f oven, bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350f and bake for another 35 minutes. Take out to cool. Doesn’t that look fine?
Now the most important thing about apple pie: it’s a perfect holiday or special occasion dessert because you can make it a day ahead. It actually tastes better the next day. Enjoy!