Saturday, May 18, 2013

How to: As easy as apple pie

How to:

Apple pie, easy, delicious and self made!

Not long ago I said to a friend "But everyone knows how to make an apple pie at least...". How wrong I was, of all the people there I was the only one who didn't consider that a challenge. Bakking to me is second nature, not hard, easy as... well... pie I guess. One of my first memories is baking cake with my mom. In our little kitchen in "the Valkenkamp" I helped her measure milk and mix the batter. That old mixer I still use. It's become a bit yellow, some bits broke off a long time ago and with heavy work it has been replaced by a splendid new KitchenAid. But I still keep it, partly because of the memories and partly because that old thing still works much better than that stupid new specimen my parents replaced it with. (Who invents a mixer where the batter gets pulled upwards instead of pushed down...) And sometimes mixing with a hand mixer is just better for your cake or for yourself. Nothing helps your frustrated persona better than 10 minutes of making figure eights with a vibrating deafening piece of plastic/ metal with the known fact in the back of your mind that you get to like the batter off that thing when you're done. But you don't know that if you doubt your ability to make something as easy as apple pie so get to work! Whether you bake for 12 or just for you, it's just as easy. I'll give you a How to of confidence to get you started and you'll find there is something else in the world you have no problems doing.

Step 1:
Buy apple pie crust mix (told you it was easy ;) ) You could buy a crust ready made but then my whole piece on mixing will have been for not... 

Step 2:
Buy appels but here comes the yummy apple pie secret: buy at least 3 different kinds. And I don't mean different names but different types: sweet and juicy, tart and crispy, etc. Figure out what you like about an apple pie, do you want it to be sweet or quite tart, do you want the apple to hold up even after it's baked to give some texture or do you like mushy pies? That will help you decide which combination works will for what you want. I usually use granny smith which is quite tart and holds it shape well, and jonagold which is sweet and juicy. I take these as the base apples which means I buy 3 of each and then I add a few different types of which I only buy 1. Generally the supermarket has signs that tell you about the different apples.

Step 3:
Buy custard powder (don't think you don't need it, you do) and sugar if your low on it, you don't need much.
optional: raisins, cinnamon (though you should really have that in your kitchen already), walnuts or almonds, depending on what you like in your apple pie, I'm sure you have a preference. (I'm presuming everyone has eating apple pie before. If you haven't I recommend you go to your parents and discuss why that is.)
Also check if you have everything you need to make the pie crust.

Step 4:
Make the dough as the package tells you to. Divide in 3/4 and 1/4 pieces make into a ball and then flatten into 1 inch thick discs. Tightly wrap both discs in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
Cut all the apples into small pieces, about 1/2 an inch square. Put them into a big bowl, add sugar and raisins, nuts and/or cinnamon if you want. It's up to you how much, just know that if you add a lot of nuts it might be better to search for a recipe on nut pies, and I wouldn't recommend adding more then 1/2 a tablespoon of cinnamon.
Mix a tablespoon of custard powder into your apple mix. Make sure everything is mixed well and put your bowl aside, but not in the fridge.

Step 5: If your making a big apple pie you can usually take a 26 cm (10 inch) spring form or pie dish but check the crust package. If you want to make little pies, just grab a muffin form.
Spring form: Take off the rim, put a piece of baking paper across the bottom and put the rim back.

Grease the spring form or muffin form with butter, oil or better yet crisco. Make sure you get the corners but make it a thin layer. Add a handful of flour and pat the form while turning so it coats everything. Pat the form over your garbage can or sink to get the excess flour out.

Step 6: Put a piece of baking paper of about 15 by 15 inches on your counter top, get some plastic wrap and a rolling pin. Get the large piece of dough from the fridge and don't be afraid. A lot of people get nervous when it comes to rolling dough, but dough doesn't judge you and if it's not going right you can just start over.
Put the dough in the center of your baking paper and put one or two sheets of plastic wrap over it so they cover the entire baking paper. Start rolling and keep turning the baking paper so your dough stays a round shape. (It's only important for the big pie, if you're making little pies it's only important to get the dough the same thickness everywhere.) Roll from the center out, don't press too hard let the rolling pin do the work and don't roll the edge thinner than the rest of the dough. When the dough has reached a 15 inch diameter, you can stop.

Step 7:
Spring form/ pie dish:
Take the plastic wrap off. Pick up the baking paper on one side and slip your rolling pin under it. Pick your dough up with the pin, it's still on the baking paper at this point. Lay the dough (baking paper side up) 1,5 inches over the rim and carefully guide it over the entire form. It should be in the center, if not carefully move it. When it's centered carefully pull off the baking paper. Do not start pushing in the dough but lift it up on the side and guide it into the form. Try not to stretch it. When it's in you can carefully press it a little so it's in the corners. You can shape the edge now, or later when you add the strips on top.

Muffin form:
Press circles into the dough with a glass or lid or something that has the diameter of a muffin cup plus it's sides. Press down and shake a little so the dough is cut well. When you've made as many circles as you need, pull the plastic off. Pick up the dough and position it over the muffin cup then carefully guide it in without stretching the dough. You'll have to shape it a little and press it in.

Step 8:
Scoop the filling into form(s) and use your hand or the back of a spoon to level it.

Step 9: Take the little piece of dough and roll it out in the same way but try to make it a rectangle where the long side is 10 inches and it's about a 1/4 inch in thickness.
Cut strips of dough and lay them across your pie. You can make an intricate design, or not, it doesn't really matter. Pinch where the strips meet the rest of the dough and remove any excess dough, you don't want anything hanging over the side.

Step 10: Bake the pie as the package tells you to but keep in mind that it might take longer or shorter if you've made it larger or smaller. A fruit pie is done when you can see the juices boiling up at the side and the crust has come loos from the dish. Let the pie cool off in it's form at least till it's luke warm. The juices have to settle and if they don't get the chance they'll flow out when you cut into it. It's better to let the apple pie sit till it's cool (if you can wait that long) and warm the slices in the oven for a few minutes.

That's it! Easy as pie, though not really because that refers to eating pie but that's what you get to do now so yay! Mine went pretty quick, luckily I sold most of it because it was yummy!

Summary of what you need:
- Apple pie crust mix and anything the package says you need to make the dough
- At least 3 types of apples (if clueless buy 3 jonagold, 3 granny smith, and 1 each of apples that speak to you)
- custard powder
- sugar (or some other sort of sweetener in powder form) 
- crisco, oil or butter
- optional: raisins, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon
- plastic wrap and baking paper
- rolling pin
- spring form, pie dish or muffin tray
- an oven :)

I know you're thinking if you mention oven, you have to mention fridge, but you could put it into a cold cellar or outside if it's 7 degrees celsius.

Make it beautiful! Or in this case, just make it ;)

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