In this final lead up to Thanksgiving, I've been making an apple pie a day in an effort to perfect the craft. And while the pies have been delicious, they're woefully far off from the perfection Leif routinely achieves with the same recipe. And, since I know practice and minuscule innovations make perfect in cases like these, I would like to extend Leif's father-recipe to the lot of you in hopes that you might chime in with your findings about proper slice girth, proportion of flour to fat, and alternative filling ideas. Of course, your own entirely different recipes are welcome as well! All in the good name of a thunder-stealing Thanksgiving contribution. There are aspects to this recipe, if you know what I'm saying, so I'll give it to you straight from the man himself. Take it away Leif:
Important things first! Pie crust : 3 C whole wheat pastry flour 1 t salt 1 C butter 1/2 C cold water 1 egg 1 T white vinegar
Mix together flour and salt in a large bowl. I try to put as much whole wheat flour in my crust as possible, but it depends on your taste and the flour itself.* Slice the butter into 1 t pieces and cut them into the flour with a pastry blender or two butter knives. You want to make sure the fat smears into the flour without melting until you have little crumbly bits the size of blueberries. Blend together the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl, and then pour into a well in the flour/butter mixture. Combine with a fork until everything's clumped up together. Divide into three equal volumes and roll out ; each dough ball makes a single 9" pie crust. Keep extras in the fridge up to a few days.
* The crusts I made in SF this summer were all whole wheat pastry flour, but when i got here i got some much grainier wheat flour, so I've been cutting it half-and-half with white pastry flour.
Then filling for apple pie: 6-7 C peeled, chopped apples, preferably mixed types (apples direct from trees would be delicious !!) 3/4 C sugar, more for sour apples lemon juice for sweet apples 1 T flour cinnamon and nutmeg
Preheat oven to 425. Peel the apples, quarter them and remove the seeds. For each quarter, slice the apple lengthwise at 1/4" intervals, and then cut the slices in half cross-ways.* Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then pour over your pile of apples, stirring just enough to coat them. For the spices, basically you want just a tad of nutmeg (maybe a couple taps on the side of the angled spice jar) and enough cinnamon that you're fairly uncomfortable with it. Heap the mixture into a 9" pie plate lined with a bottom crust (it will probably make a small-ish mountain), add 3-5 t of butter on the top of the mountain, and drape another pie crust over it all. Cut cutesy things in the top, or use a pie bird from the world's best stuff store. Flute the crust edges between your thumb+index finger on one hand and your pinky on the other. Bake at 425 for 30m, and then at 375 or so for another 20-30m, or until thick juice bubbles out from the pie. You might need to cover the edges of the crust during backing to prevent burning. Cool a bit before eating.
* I'm still experimenting with chopping techniques. I think long thin lengthwise slices tend to make a pie that's too dense, while small chunks make a pie that's too crumbly. Let me know what you discover here. Also, Leif would like to add that he got the crust from the Raleigh News & Observer, and the apple filling is from his mom. Also, the carvings in the top crust are crucial. Now, let's all get to baking!