September. The sun starts setting earlier. Saturday’s are filled with college football. The A/C gets turned off. And apples are slowly replacing peaches at the market. Unlike every previous September, I am not back in school but rather am patiently awaiting IL Bar results and endless job hunting which also has the perk of providing me with lots of kitchen time.
September, specifically the 16th, also brings an anniversary. Dave and I have now been together for 3 years and I knew that I wanted to make him something special for dinner. I will tell you about the dinner this week, but we should start with the best part of any meal, dessert. I decided to make a pie, specifically a pie fully from scratch. I stupidly tried to make pie from scratch when I was also cooking up lots of other things for Thanksgiving and quickly gave into store bought pie dough. However, this time, I did more research and felt significantly more confident in my abilities.
When you finally master pie dough, it is pretty magical. Suddenly flour, butter (maybe shortening), salt and water are transformed into beautiful rounds of dough that are just waiting to be filling with fruit, in this case thinly sliced apples. Luckily fall has just begun because I see many more apples pies in my future.
One year ago: Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken (forgive the terrible pictures)
All Butter Pie Dough
AMAZINGLY HELPFUL Instructions can be found at Smitten Kitchen but you will need:
1 cup of water, really cold (stick a few ice cubes in)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter; cubed into small chunks and stick in the freezer; cold is your friend with pie dough
Pastry blender (or 2 forks if you are hard-core)
Get out your biggest bowl and put the flour, sugar and salt in it and and whisk everything together. Get the butter out of the freezer (I’m serious, keep it in there) and dump the little cubes all over the flour. Start cutting the butter into the flour with the pastry blender. Its good to keep scooping up the flour into a pile to make sure you are getting it all in. Go until it resembles a pie of “peas”. If the butter starts to get warm, stick the whole bowl in the freezer for a few minutes, then keep going. You want it to look uneven and to see the chunks of butter because that is what makes it flaky (or so I have read).
Now, get the cup of really cold water and trickle 1/3 to 1/2 cup into the bowl and press the water into the “peas” by pressing into the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Continue to trickle in water until you have large chunks, then use your hands to get it to all come together. Use the freezer if it starts to get warm again. (Seriously, these are some great pictures to explain what I did).
Divide the dough in half, then wrap each half in plastic wrap, shaping into a disk. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to make your pie but make sure this is at least 2 hours later because you want the dough to be cold.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and various other places
3-4 tart apples* peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch or so slices
2-3 sweeter apples* peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch or so slices
Juice and zest from 1 lemon (aiming for 1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon of zest but I don’t measure)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
Roll out 1 round of all butter pie dough. Place into a pie plate.
Toss sliced apples with the lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour, salt and the spices together. Toss the dry ingredients with the apples/lemon in the large bowl. Pour fruit into pie plate, on top of pie dough.
Roll out the second piece of dough just like the first and place over the filled pie plate. Crimp the two pieces together in the pretty wave or just push together the pieces with the tines of a fork. If you have any excess dough, cut out some cute shapes, like hearts <3.
*I sought the Fruit Slinger‘s advice and used Mutzu and McIntosh but just use your favorites, or whatever looks good at the market