Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall Traditions by Gardener Janet

The air turns cooler; the apples on the backyard trees are ready for harvest. In our family, that means it is time to be baking apple pies. A few years back, my husband discovered a tool I had found at a garage sale. This simple tool had a profound impact on our family. The apple peeler-parer-slicer spoke to my husband who became obsessed with harvesting, and using every single apple produced on our two apple trees.
Needless to say, the rest of us needed to become competent at doing something with the buckets of peeled and sliced apples he was producing. Thus, the apple pie assembly line was born. My daughter became the “spice girl”; she would mix sugar, flour and spices to create the perfect pie filling. My job was the crust; I would make dough for a double crust over and over. On a good day we would make seven or eight pies. Neighbors, friends, and family were the recipient of these pies.

Apple pie recipes are a dime a dozen….but here is what happens on the assembly line.

7 cups of apples (peeled and sliced)
¾ cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
Splash of lemon juice

Toss apples with spices and sugar.

Make a double crust.

2 cups unbleached flour
2/3 cup shortening
1 tsp salt

Mix these ingredients in a food processor. Pour this mixture into a bowl and add 5 TBS ice cold water. Mix with a fork and form into two balls. (Mixture may look very wet at first. Wait a minute or so and the moisture is absorbed). Place one of the balls in the center of a sheet of wax paper slightly larger than the pie pan. Cover with another sheet and roll out for bottom crust. Place in pie pan, add apple mixture. Dot with butter. Then roll out another circle of pie dough, place on top of apples. Fold top and bottom layers together to make an edge and crimp with your knuckles.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 60 minutes.

Another favorite (when we run out of pie plates) is a quick, rustic looking apple tart:

1 cup unbleached flour
1 Tbsp sugar
½ stick butter

Mix these ingredients in the food processor. Place flour mixture into another bowl and add 3 TBS ice cold water. Lightly toss and form into a ball.

Roll out dough (using same wax paper method) into a large circle.


2 large, tart apples (peeled and cut in half…no special tool used here)
Slice the apples from top of half (makes apple circles). When no more circles can be cut, chop the rest into bite sized pieces.

Arrange apples in center of pie dough circle. Start with chopped pieces and end by placing apple circles in a concentric pattern (leaving about a two inch edge of pie dough). Sprinkle with a mixture of 2 TBS sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger and cloves. Dot with butter. Fold edges toward the center. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 45 to 60 minutes (until pastry is golden brown). For the tart in the photo I made a caramel drizzle using several tsp of butter melted with a couple of tsp of brown sugar. Heat until dissolved and drizzle over baked tart.