No, this is not The Pie - those of you who know me are aware of what this is, those who don't will have to wait until Thanksgiving for that recipe. This is a plain, old, very delicious apple pie that my dad used to make all the time. It can be found in James Beard's American Cookery - a book that was to American cuisine for Americans what Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to French cuisine for Americans. It has everything from cocktail food to candy, and a copy has been in my family's kitchen for as long as I can remember. But I digress.
The main issue I have with pies is that I love eating them, but I don't really like cooking them. The filling usually isn't a problem - unless its lemon meringue - but the crust is a bitch and 3/4. At least. It crumbles and sticks to the rolling pin and falls apart when you try to put it in the pan, and by the time you're done your already hot kitchen seems like you have somehow fallen into the oven itself and sweat is dripping down your back and you don't even want to eat the pie anymore because everything sucks!
So when Beard says that you can start with the filling or the crust, it is simply a matter of preference, I'd advise starting with the filling, because by the time you are done with the crust, you won't want to do anything else, possibly ever.
Apple Pie Filling
5 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced apples
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
lemon juice (optional)
pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie
Slice the apples into a bowl, add sugar, cinnamon and salt. Put in the refrigerator until the crust is done.*Seriously, that's all you have to do with the filling. It's hella easy.*
Pastry for a Two-Crust 9-inch Pie
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups shortening
1/4 cup cold water
Sift the flour with the salt or stir together with a fork. Add the shortening and cut it through with a fork, or rub between fingers until the mixture is in pieces about the size of a pea.
Add water a few drops at a time and mash together with one hand to combine the water evenly. The dough should not be wet, but just moist enough to hold together in a ball. The type of flour and the temperature of the mixture will make a difference as to how much water you need, so be attentive. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes if it seems too soft.
Take out between slightly more than a half to two thirds of the dough for the undercrust (depending on how thin you want the top crust to be).
Roll it out, fit it to the pie pan, and trim the edge.
*This little sentence sounds so easy. It isn't. It is the most time consuming part of the pie making experience. It helps to roll the dough out onto wax paper, so you don't have to peel it off a table. Also make sure to dust your rolling pin with flour, so it too doesn't stick.*
Put the filling into the pie crust, dot the apples with butter. Roll out the top crust and wet the edge of the undercrust. Place the top crust on top of the apples, pinching the two crust together so they seal. Cut vents in the top of the crust, preferably large enough that you can see the apples underneath - this allows you to check that it is done cooking without piercing the crust.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 20-35 minutes more, depending on the variety of apples used. Sweeter, softer apples require less cooking time. Allow to cool and solidify for at least 45 minutes. Serve with cream, ice cream, or cheddar cheese.
The crust really was an incredible pain, and I'm not terribly inclined to do it again soon, but its deliciousness makes up for it. You really can't beat a homemade pie crust. I'm going to go eat more.