Monday, October 31, 2011

Bountiful Michigan Apple Crop Makes Way For Autumn Apple Pie

To go through a Michigan autumn without a trip to one of our state's many apple orchards or cider mills would be to miss out on something very special. Sure, you can buy all the apples you want at the stores, but I'm here to tell you they taste better when you get them straight from the source! There's nothing better than acres of trees with the many varieties of apples ripe for the picking, fresh pressed cider, and sometimes you get lucky and find a place frying up some of those delicious doughnuts.

Up near the cottage we have a couple of apple orchards nearby. Moeller's Orchards and McCallum's Orchards. Both are great places to spend some time on a nice autumn afternoon and collect some delicious apples of many varieties. After picking up some Ida Red, Jonagold and Macintosh apples, it was time to get back to the kitchen. I have always liked to combine varieties of apples in pies, crisps, cobblers, etc. Each bring a different flavor and texture to the party. Once the apples were in-hand, it didn't take long to put our autumn apple pie together. This is about as classic as it gets - and a perennial favorite.

Pie Crust

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup Crisco (best if cold - I keep mine in the fridge)
5-6 TBSP ice water
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Add Crisco and using a pastry blender cut-in shortening with flour mixture until it becomes the consistency of small peas. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time and incorporate using a fork. You want the dough to be damp enough that there are no longer any small particles in bowl. When you pick up dough and press large pieces together, it should hold together. Form dough into one large ball and divide it in two parts. I generally make one half a little larger than the other - and I use the larger piece to roll out my bottom crust. The smaller one is for the top crust. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 30 minutes.

Apple Pie Filling
6-7 apples (I used Macintosh, Jonagold and Ida Reds)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 TBSP cold unsalted butter - cut into small cubes
Peel apples. Cut apples from top to bottom around the core, and then slice each of the four sections into thin slices and put in large bowl. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and toss to coat. Add sugars, flour, cinnamon and salt and give it all a good stir so that each slice of apple is coated with the sugar-flour-spice mixture. The filling is now ready.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out your bottom crust on a counter/board that is well floured. Lay the bottom crust into your pie plate (I use a deep 9-inch Pyrex pie plate for this recipe). Pour pie filling into pie plate on top of your bottom crust. Take butter cubes and distribute around the top of the filling. Roll out your top crust and place on top of the pie. Trim the edges of the pie crust and crimp the bottom and top crusts together. Vent the top crust by making 6-8 cuts in the top crust with a sharp knife (all of this is in the video). Optional: sprinkle a tablespoon of white sugar on the top crust. Place pie in the center of an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes - crust should be golden brown. Remove pie from oven and allow to cool for a few hours. Wonderful served with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce or with a slice of American cheese melted on top!

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