I was sitting here thinking about what makes me happy. How often have you thought about what makes you happy? I know that more often than not I’ll bend to the will of others, since happiness in the group should make me happy too. Need an example? How often would you order pizza instead of Chinese because you knew it would make your hubby happy? How often would you make his favorite foods instead of our own because you wanted to be the perfect wife? It happens all the time. What I’m saying is that it’s ok to think about yourself now, and make the real you happy. Hopefully that’s what I can offer you in these blogs, recipes for making you happy. So with that here’s something to get us started…
The Apple Pie
Nothing says fall more than good old fashioned apple pie and I don’t know about you, but there is something that feels so right about the smell of something tasty wafting through your place, and the warmth coming out of your oven.
I made this pie two weeks ago when I got confirmation from my lawyer that my paperwork was finally being submitted and that we were in the home stretch. I know many of you are in the same boat, or close to it. You just want things to be over, and knowing that each day you’re coming closer to being done, helps. I had wanted to go for a nice long walk, but the weather that day dawned cold and rainy (more like a monsoon). So instead I did my second favorite thing, I cooked something. It helps to be focused on creating something on days like that.
What I love about apple pie is that it actually is very simple to make and doesn’t require a culinary degree or a grandmother on call to pull off one that people will love. Now for those of you who are hoping for the “How to make a perfect apple pie from scratch “ blog, you’re in the wrong place. Very rarely do we have time to make our own perfectly balanced and flaky crust, and weave it into something worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. While I love making those masterpieces, I want to give something back to the girls who are trying to have it all and make a pie too. Which means that if you can’t make the crust, it’s ok. Besides, it’s all about the apples anyway!
So let’s start with the apples. Everyone has a favorite I’m sure, but not all apples are great for baking. My personal favorite are golden delicious. They have that great apple-y flavor and they keep a little of their crisp even when you bake them. Here are some other’s that work great for baking and can be found at local grocery stores:
One of the sweetest apples around, these babies are perfect for baking .They have a distinctive juicness but are firm enough that they won’t cook down much. They complement just about any other apple variety to make a stellar pie so feel free to blend away just be ready to grab Honeycrisps; they’re only available for a few months in the fall.
The Gala complements any recipe–you can even get away with using less sugar because of its natural sweetness (your waist line will thank you). The crispness helps it retain its shape throughout baking so it doesn’t get mealy.
Braeburns offer a spicy-sweet flavor which is great for all. It stores well, and is great for baking because it keeps its shape throughout cooking. Another great apple for blending!
Once you’ve got the apples, you’re basically in the home stretch. At this point you could cut them, toss them with some brown sugar and cinnamon, toss them in a crust and bake. You could have hot apple pie in less than an hour. It will be simple and delicious but we can do a little better.
Adding a crumble on top will lock in that apple flavor and give the pie another layer of texture, flavor, and some more curb appeal.
The key to the crumb is frozen butter. Trust me on this, put a stick of butter in the freezer stat! This is also the key to the flaky pie crust, fluffy biscuits, and buttery scones. Toss that butter with some brown sugar, cinnamon, oatmeal, and you’ve got instant crunch crumbly top. The best part is, if you don’t want to use a crust (gluten or carb issues) this makes a great apple crisp on its own.
When these pies came out of the oven, the whole house smelled heavenly, was warm with the heat of the oven, and gave me a great sense of peace and accomplishment. It definitely did the trick and put a smile on my face. I hope you feel the same.
Quick and Easy Apple Crisp Pie
1 basic flaky pie pastry (9 inch deep dish uncooked and refrigerated)
7 cups peeled cored and thinly sliced golden delicious apples (2-3 large golden delicious, but feel free to use more or less)
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 lemon juiced
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
Oatmeal crumb topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter (frozen)
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine apples, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon juice (and zest if you want it really tangy), cinnamon, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Make sure all the apple slices are coated.
Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell; smooth filling with your hands to even out.
Place pie on the center rack in oven; bake 20 minutes.
Can make the crumb topping while pie is baking: Add flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the container of a food processor; pulse several times to mix.
Using a cheese grater, grate the butter over top of the dray mixture. Pulse repeatedly until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Empty the crumbs into a large bowl and rub them together between your fingers until you have large, buttery crumbs; store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Remove pie from oven and lower temperature to 375°; carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them over the surface with your hands.
Place a foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any spills.
Bake about 25-30 more minutes or until the top is dark golden brown and the juices bubble thickly at the edge.