Sunday, October 21, 2012

Adventures With Apple Pie

I have really been wanting to bake a pie lately. It all started a few weekends ago when I had some of the other graduate students over to my apartment to carve pumpkins. I immediately wanted to make a homemade pumpkin pie (you know, steam the pumpkin to get the puree, mix in everything, make the crust from scratch etc. etc.). Since then I’ve decided that when Obe (my boyfriend) and I go to his grandmothers for Thanksgiving this year I will bring a pie—as well as the delicious pickle/cream cheese/meat roll ups that I make every year, yummy.

However, the problem is that Obe’s uncle Jason is a chef—a legitimate chef/cook person that makes delicious food, delicious appetizers and drinks, as well as super delicious deserts—I mean, this is only an issue when I decide that I want to bring a desert to a family function…which I do.

Despite the potential for a level of awkwardness (what if Jason makes an apple pie? Oh my gosh!) that would never really happen in my own family, I’ve decided that I’m going to bring a pie anyways! I’m excited about it and I’m not going to let possible awkwardness change that—insert maniacal laughter here.

Which brings us to today’s adventure. Sunday is the perfect day for baking and/or cooking adventures for me because, other than cleaning up the apartment, all I have to do is homework…something I tend to avoid at all costs anyways. Also Obe’s at work making this an even more appropriate time to dive into baking pies.

After finding a decent looking recipe online I biked to the store to pick up some apples and Crisco, which was all I needed for the pie that I didn’t already have. This in itself was probably the best choice I could have made all day as the weather was beautiful, sure it was windy (when isn’t it?), but that made the ride all the more refreshing. I had been hoping to surprise Obe with a brief hello, but the Starbucks line was about ten people line and I decided it wasn’t worth it. Instead I just picked up the apples and Crisco and was on my way.
Multi-purpose beer bottle!

Prior to baking the pie I had to clean the kitchen, which was on my to-do list anyways so huzzah!. The first thing I did was mix up the dough for the crust. I’m not going to lie to you, baking with a homemade pie crust was probably the most stressful aspect of baking my own pie. Especially when I realized, after mixing together the flour and etc. needed for the crust, that I did not have a rolling pan! How was I supposed to roll out the dough? Well, never fear for my ingenuity kicked in and, despite the fact that it was about ten o clock in the morning, I cracked open a good old Odell Myrcenary IPA and poured a glass. I then used the bottle to roll out the dough! Classy, I know, but hey I got a good beer out of the deal. It’s funny to watch in the pictures as the beer level gets lower and lower as the pie comes closer to completion.
Jenky crust... don't judge!

Well, rolling out a piecrust is more difficult than I had imagined, for some reason mine turned out quite lopsided and uneven in thickness. After attempting to even it out a little bit I threw it onto the pie pan. Keep in mind, this is my first experience at making pies, so don’t laugh at the pictures.

Delicious apples and great beer
Butter, mm. Paula Deen smiles today!
The recipe that I had found called for six to seven apples, but after cutting up five of them I decided that the bowl was full enough and that more apples would not equal a better pie. Look at me, digressing from the recipes already… hopefully this ingenuity won’t work against me in the long run. It was quite fun mixing the apple slices up with the white and brown sugars. After this I added in the flour (why do you need flour? I’m not really sure…) and through some cinnamon on top. This concoction began looking super delicious: gooey, cinnamoney, appley, what more do you need? I unceremoniously dumped the delicious apples into the pan took a few pictures and then added the butter. At this point I felt a lot like Paula Deen, putting lots of butter squares throughout the pie, but hey-butter can be a good thing, right? After this I got to work on the top layer of the pie.

Complete pie, empty beer...perfect!
After my initial flop with the bottom layer of crust, I thought I’d try out a new technique with the top layer. Rather than rolling the beer bottle up and down, and then side to side, I tried this modified circular rolling style: keeping one side of the beer bottle in the middle I just rotated the outer part of it around the dough. This turned out quite a bit better than the original crust I had done! Look at that, the beer is working—I’m coming up with good ideas already! Alcohol should be a necessary part of all baking experiences!

Action shot!
After putting a little bit of butter on top of the crust—another one of my recipe improvisations—and sprinkling some cinnamon/sugar mixture onto it as well, I placed some tinfoil on the sides (the recipe claimed that this would prevent the sides from burning as the pie baked) and threw the pie in the oven!

Post-tinfoil removal pie..
Twenty-five minutes later I took the tinfoil off and put the pie back in.

At this point things got a little more shady…the recipe said another twenty to twenty five minutes would suffice, adding that the pie should be golden brown when finished. Unfortunately for me, perhaps because of the additional butter glaze I had spread on top of the pie, the pie was just not turning golden brown!! What do I do? Well…I Just kept leaving the pie in the oven, ultimately adding an extra twenty-five minutes of bake time onto the pie. Who knows the devastation I have wrought onto this poor, helpless pie!

Eventually the pie became golden brown. It looks and smells beautiful, and I can’t wait to share it with Obe when he gets off work! Plus now my entire apartment smells like fresh bake apple pie, what could be more indicative of Autumn, my new favorite season?

Successful first pie!

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