Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Baking Season! (A Favorite Apple Pie Recipe)

Okay, as I previously indulged in an "I Love Fall" post, September begins my favorite time of year (not that I don't love summer!). The following is a list of reasons why (recipe at the end!):

1) I've designated Halloween through my Birthday (in January) as the Official Season of Glitter. My friend B once said she wouldn't be surprised to find glitter in any place I had been (and then there was the campus-wide scrubbing for at least the week after I was Tinkerbell for Halloween and carried out a bag of glitter as pixie dust one evening). It's true I love the stuff. And Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, my birthday - everyone's automatically given leave to wear as much glitter, shine, sparkle, and sequins as possible, all in the name of festivity. Gotta love it.

2) Boot season.

3) Sweater season.

4) Light jacket season.

5) The lilting combination of leaves crunching underfoot, and campfire crackling. The smell of a campfire. And later, the hanging of the greens and the spicy-sweet smell of evergreen.

6) Apple cider and hot cocoa. I'd say hot toddies, but anyone who attended my Ugly Christmas Sweater Party a few years ago can attest to my less-than-perfect hot buttered rum. I'm working on the meantime, I make a mean (and simple) warm spiced apple cider + rum.

7) Ice skating at Crown Center (+ sweaters + hot cocoa).

8) A Christmas Carol at the Rep and the Nutcracker at the Kansas City Ballet. This is the time of year my imagination really takes flight (reaching very lofty heights) and I get lost in the Nutcracker, my memories of being taken to the Midland as little girls, it's grandeur, the magic of the music, the dance, and of course, the never-lost dream of being a ballerina.

9) Shopping on the Plaza in the dark of evening, with the glow of the lights. No, really. I prefer to do my Christmas shopping in the black of dusk - it all just seems more mystical, and festive.

10) The food. I don't eat much in the summer; the heat keeps me from it, and I generally just snack on a lot of fruit, cold veggies, salsas and salads. This is good for me. Fall begins my love affair with the savory. I adore chilis, soups, and stews, crusty breads, green beans and sweet potatoes. But this is also the baking season.

I kicked off the week with a pumpkin pie (using the recipe from my post Pumpkin Pie with a Twist, and in two weeks, my mother, my sister, my grandpa and I will be spending two days creating our family's Christmas lebkuchen (Christmas cookies), but what to make in between? I haven't been to a farmer's market since I-don't-know-when and I'm all over that this weekend, because...I've decided it's the perfect time to make an apple pie.

Apple pie is one of the labor intensive pies there is, but one of my favorites. I tend to shy away from cheddar crusts (I like mine sweet) and caramel apple pies, and often gravitate towards recipes with crumb toppings versus lattice. I haven't decided what to try this year - the cinnamon crumble-bottom turned out well in my pumpkin pie, perhaps an adaptation for apple? The following is a recipe I used last fall that turned out exceptionally well:

Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie from
(If you're on Epicurious, you can find me and my recipe box under simrl, though I still have yet to update it with all the recipes on my mobile app).

1 1/3 Cup all-purpose flour (I'm going to try this using wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 Cup butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 Cup shortening, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Ice water (I usually keep a cup of ice water handy, adding a little bit at a time. It always seems to vary how much you'll need).
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (Note: any more and your crust will taste strongly of vinegar).

3 1/4 lbs. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used organic sweet red apples bought for a pittance at a road-side stand by my mom's garden. Granny Smith's are generally considered the best baking apples, but if you don't mind a sweet pie, use whatever you like. The red apples turned out a fantastic pie).
2/3 Cup sugar
2 TB all-purpose flour (again, and also in the topping below, I will try wheat flour)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I'm always a little heavy-handed with the spices and don't measure this precisely)
2 TB butter, melted

1 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
6 TB chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes


For crust:
Mix flour, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Add butter and shortening; rub in with fingertips until coarse meal forms(I'm so glad this is in here! I always use my hands for all parts of the crust-making process. Messy, but works best). Mix 3 tablespoons ice water and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Drizzle over flour mixture; stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 30 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch; turn edge under and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate while preparing filling and topping.

For filling:
Mix all ingredients in large bowl to coat apples.

For topping:
Blend first 5 ingredients in processor. Add chilled butter cubes; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles wet sand.

Toss filling to redistribute juices; transfer to crust, mounding in center. Pack topping over and around apples.

Bake pie on baking sheet until topping is golden, about 40 minutes (cover top with foil if browning too quickly). Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until apples in center are tender when pierced and filling is bubbling thickly at edges, about 45 minutes longer. Cool until warm, about 1 hour. Serve with ice cream.

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Bon appetit! Stay posted for my apple pie adventures this weekend.

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