This past weekend, I was ill. This happens, on average, about once a year for me. I just don't have time to get sick! So when I get sick, it's not an achy, annoying thing. It's a knock me down, and drag me through the streets by my toes kind of yuck. And I don't do well when I'm sick. Basically, I'm a monster. My darlin' husband has learned to take my crankiness in stride and let the storm pass... but even then I feel bad about it after I'm conscience enough to realize how poor my behavior has been. So when I get better, I suck up.
|Have I told you lately how much I love my kitchen? I have enough space for my laptop and all of my cooking accessories!|
No mas! This recipe is BY-FAR the easiest, tastiest, flakiest recipe I've come across! I found it here. Give credit where credit is due, right? What I love most about this recipe is that you are almost guaranteed to always have the ingredients on hand: flour, salt, butter, water. Oh, and I do so love the fact that the fat is from butter, not that store-bought lard or Crisco. No bueno. Now, don't go callin' me a hypocrite in the future when I post a blog about my first attempt at rendering pig fat to lard. In that blog, I'll discuss why it's good for you.
Back to my pie crust. I buy butter in bulk from Sam's Club. Four butter sticks stay in the fridge at all times for immediate use, and the rest of the massive pack stay in the freezer. This is important because when I make this pie crust, I don't use the butter from the fridge. I grab a stick out of the freezer so I can have the coldest butter possible.
Also, I am blessed abundantly. My husband spoiled me one year and purchased a Vitamix for my culinary pleasures. You can absolutely make this crust without the Vitamix, but it seriously cuts down the time with incorporating the butter with the flour if you have one. I am sure a food processor will work just as well, but I can't testify to that since I don't have one.
1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour (I use unbleached)
1/4 tsp salt (I use the coarse sea salt)
1/2 Cup butter (frozen and diced)
1/4 Cup ice water
I toss my Vitamix in the freezer for about 20 minutes. The blades on that bad boy spin so fast that they actually heat things up and will melt your butter. If you start with cold blades, that'll slow down the heating up process.
Throw 1/4 cup of water into a measuring cup, and put that in the freezer as well. You want it to get so cold that ice crystals are just forming on the top layer of the water.
When your 20 (or so) minutes are up, grab your Vitamix (or food processor) and dump your flour and salt into it. I turn it on setting 3 (a low to medium speed) and let the flour and salt mix a bit. While it's still mixing, I start dumping the butter in. I have the butter cut up in pieces that are just slightly smaller than a TB in size. No measuring is actually necessary for this, but I'm just letting you know. I get about 9 or 10 pieces of butter to toss in. Don't toss the butter in too slowly, the blades will warm up pretty quick and start to melt your butter. But don't do it too quick either. You want the blades to chop your butter up pretty well and mix it with your flour for you.
Roll out your pastry mat or large cutting board, or just clear a spot on your countertop. I used to use a bowl for this next step, but figured out pretty quick that the bowl just added an extra dish for me to wash. I dump out my flour/salt/butter mixture on my pastry mat. Then, I make a little opening in the middle of my mixture, much like you do when you want to open a space in your mashed potatoes for the gravy. I forgot to take a picture of that part, but it does help to keep things tidy.
You can see some of the butter bits in my dough. Don't go all OCD on me and decide that you want it all incorporated and perfect. You'll see why in a bit. Now, here's the tough part: wrap your crust ball in saran wrap and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Why is that hard? THAT'S 4 MORE HOURS THAT YOU HAVE TO WAIT! I try to remember to make my crust the night before so I don't have to worry about that four hour wait. Overnight is just fine as well.
While we waited for our crust to rest and chill, we decided to slice our apples and marinate them. I tried this recipe for an apple pie last year, and was getting a request for an apple pie each week for two months. Apparently, it is well liked. The website actually gives you a pie crust recipe, but as you can see it has more than 4 ingredients and it has Crisco in the ingredients. NO BUENO! I do love the filling though, so we kept that. I use Pampered Chef deep dish pie stoneware, so I took the recipe and added 50% more to it. Here's what I came up with:
7 1/2 Tart Peeled Apples*
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 + 1/8 Teaspoon Salt**
1 1/2 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
1 Lemon, Juiced
*In this house, food rule #1 is "Eat before it gets eaten". This apparently applies to apples on apple pie making day. So before I could stop my 19 month old, she had 1/2 a green apple in her belly. You could probably get away with 7 apples, but I planned for 8 so we got 8. For my nurse mom: yes, I cut the gnawed on part off and used the "clean" side only for the baking. No germs here!
**I have no idea which measuring spoon to use for the salt, so I just scooped 1/4 tsp and dumped it in... then scooped an 1/8 tsp in and added that as well.
Then we peeled, cored, and cut the apples. This made for super-fun role play afterward with the long "Rapunzel hair", fu manchu mustaches, and tasty treats. Enjoy our goofy moments:
|Lovely crumbly texture... you likey?|
|You can't really see it, but those apples are covered! They're happy apples now.|
Four hours later...
|Put your chilled dough on a floured surface. I have this handy pastry mat with pie crust measurements for visual aid. Nice, huh?|
|Roll the dough out. It will be tough at first because the dough is kind of hard. Work through it. It'll be worth it!|
|Have one year old help. This will instantly melt your heart.|
|This is important: put your dough in a ball again and re-roll. See how the picture above has broken edges? Notice how pretty this next roll-out will be!|
|Round with no tears! Pretty.|
|Put your dough in your pie pan and poke holes in it.|
|Fill the crust. These apples weren't cooked, just marinated. When the pie has finished cooking, the apples will still have a little crunch in them. You could cook them on the stove top before you fill the pie crust, but we like them slightly crunchy.|
|I over fill my pie pan. The apples won't "settle" because they weren't pre-cooked. This pie will come out this full when it's done.|
|Now, I add a "few" pats of butter before I put the lattice work (or top pie crust) for the finishing touch. Butter makes everything better!|
|Finished pie! It cooked in a 400 degree oven for an hour. You'll know when it's done because the juices will be bubbly and your husband will ask what he has to do to get a slice of apple pie in his house!|
|For our slice of pie, we brewed some decaf coffee. I dropped an apple and some of the juices in the coffee for flavor. It was extra tasty!|