Wednesday, November 23, 2011

America - Baking a Homemade Apple Pie

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I spent tonight making an apple pie to take to my parents’ house in the morning as a dessert for our feast there. I normally try to limit my intake of sugar and flour, since all the modern “diseases of civilization”, ranging from obesity to diabetes to heart disease, are caused by chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin. But I am also a big proponent of real, traditional food. So when Thanksgiving comes around, my theory is to ignore the packaged convenience foods and go all-out with the kind of apple pie people would have been eating 100 years ago. When you stick to real sugar and natural fats in place of industrial products like corn syrup and soybean oil the results are outstanding. Also note that if you cut the crust recipe in half it makes an excellent crust for a homemade quiche.

Here are the ingredients. Don’t get scared:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
13 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
8 tablespoons pork lard
Cold ice water as needed

6 cups Granny Smith apples (roughly six average sized apples after peeling, coring and chopping)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold butter cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon milk for brushing top of crust
1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon for dusting crust.

That's over one and a half sticks of butter plus eight tablespoons of pork lard in the crust.

 Start out by cutting the butter for the crust into 1/2 inch cubes. Place them in the freezer. Then scoop out your 8 tablespoons of pork lard and place them in the freezer too. You want your fats to be cold. While they chill, mix the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor, then add the butter cubes and mix them in using five or six one-second pulses. Add the pork lard and mix it with an additional four or five one-second pulses. All the fat bits should be no bigger than small peas. Put the mixture in a big mixing bowl. If you still have some big chunks of butter and lard, break them up with a fork. Add four tablespoons of ice-cold water and stir with a fork. Keep adding ice water a couple tablespoons at a time and rotate between stirring with a fork and squeezing the dough together with your hands until you form it into a large ball. Split the ball into two halves, one slightly bigger than the other. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut your peeled and cored apples into small, bit-sized pieces and place them in a medium-sized bowl, then mix in the teaspoon of lemon juice. In another bowl, mix the sugar, brown sugar, flour and spices, then pour that mixture in with the apples and gently mix everything.

Now get the bigger of your two balls of pie crust dough, roll it out and use it to coat a reusable pie pan. It helps if you roller is a little damp. Place the filling in your crust. Spread the small cubes of butter around on top of the filling.

Roll out the other ball of pie crust dough, cut it into strips and law them out on the pie in a criss-crossed grid. Use a fork to press the outer edges together. Now brush the top of the crust with the milk, then sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until it looks like a perfect apple pie. Place a metal baking sheet on a shelf under the pie while it cooks to catch all the excess grease that bakes off.


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