Monday, September 19, 2011

Week Eight -- Apple Pie and Bubble Junk

I will confess that I wasn’t all that creative with one of our projects this week (yes, we did two, but one isn’t edible… I mean, I guess it is, but you wouldn’t want to.) The first was inspired by the amazing pyramids of apples that showed up last week in our grocery store. I promise not to bore you with my memories of picking apples in Maine. (Sigh… it’s just more romantic than picking apples at Brookshire’s here in Tyler.) I know I’ve already done an apple project, but please forgive me. I haven’t made apple pie in a while… so…. Here goes. My recipe is my own and of course it’s sort of flexible because I don’t know what kind of apples you are using or how sweet those apples are. I used McIntosh, which I know is some sort of culinary felony in some circles. I’ve been told (pinch your nose and read this aloud) “McIntosh are not for cooking. They are for eating out of the hand.” Whatever. I’m not a pomologist, ( so I pretty much just eat apples that I like (Honey Crisp, Jazz, Northern Spy, MacIntosh, Ambrosia, Winesap, Pink Lady, Pippen, and Black Gilliflower) This last one I’ve only had once and I include it because it’s amazing and I love the name and well, it’s black. Very cool. For a complete guide of registered apples go to:

So, apple pie is about the easiest thing you can do… seriously. And listen, if you are afraid of the crust, just go buy one for heaven sake. No one will know...unless you tell them or unless you are having Martha Stewart over for dinner. And if Martha is coming over, you’ve got bigger fish to fry than to worry about whether your pie crust is flaky enough.

Texas Size Apple Pie
The crust: (Or Pate Brisee if you are feeling fancy pants)

P.S. If you bought your dough… congratulations… you can skip all this business.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 to 8 Tbsp ice water

1. Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Zip it around for a few seconds. Add the butter pieces; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. You can obviously do all of this by hand, but it’s easier with the for processor because you won’t’ have to worry about the dough getting too warm from your hot little hands.
2. Add the ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube with the machine running, just until dough holds together. Use that fun pulse button on your food processor for this so you don’t get that nasty flour gluten all worked up. (That will make your crust tough and Martha won’t like that.) Test by squeezing dough; if it is still crumbly, add a bit more water. REMEMBER! You can always add water… you can’t take it away!
3. Dump out the dough onto some plastic wrap. Divide the dough in two pieces. Pat each into a flat disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic and chill for at least an hour.

Apple Filling

• ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
• Crust (Sorry Pate Brisee)
• 5 ½ pounds apples (about 12-14) Zip it… I know this seems like a lot of apples, but trust me.
• Juice of 2 lemons
• 1 cup sugar This will vary depending upon your apple proclivity
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• ½ t nutmeg
• 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out your chilled dough (or unwrap your store-bought dough). You need to roll it out to about 15 inches so that you have enough to pinch the edges closed when you’re finished. Line your DEEP DISH pie pan with this. You can do a regular 9 incher, but you might have enough apples for almost two pies if you do this.
2. Peel, core, and slice apples. Put the slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and part of the sugar. Toss the apples to mix. Taste the apples… add more sugar if you like.
3. Dump apples into you crust-lined pan. Dot with your butter chunks.
4. Place other pie crust (which you’ve either rolled out or unwrapped – if you roll it out, make it a little larger than the other.. .maybe 18 inches.) on top and seal the edges. Use your thumb and forefinger to make little pinches all the way around the edge so it looks nice and it holds all the hot apple bubbly goodness inside.
5. Cut vents in the top crust. This will allow the steam to exit your pie without blowing a hole in it.
6. Now, you can brush the crust with egg wash (egg yolk mixed with a little cream or milk) and sprinkle it with sugar, but it’s fine without. Note: if Martha is coming over, definitely do this. If I’m coming over, don’t bother.
7. Put your pie on either a baking sheet or foil to catch any overflow of the juices. That way you won’t have to buy a new oven when you’re finished.
8. Place the pie in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
9. Cool before you eat it. I know…but it will be all dribbly and juicy otherwise. Trust me. Let the filling thicken….

Bubble Junk
This might not even be on your radar, but if it’s not maybe you shouldn’t be so sophisticated. There is something so soothing about making giant bubbles and watching them float up into the sky. Even better if you live in an upper floor of a building or live near a body of water. But, the best is when I lived in Alaska… the bubbles don’t burst in the winter, they shatter. Weird, right? Yep… bubble junk plus 50 below equals breakable bubbles.
So, here you go… this is best recipe for bubble junk.

1 cup dishwashing liquid… Blue Dawn is the best. (I don’t know why)
12 cups water
¼ cup glycerin (or corn syrup – but glycerin is better… less messy and you won’t attract bees.)

Mix it all together and let it sit for an hour or overnight. It just gets better.
If you have one of the giant bubble thingies that you can buy from Klutz… awesome, but a big can (like a coffee can) with both ends taken off it works great too.
Go eat pie and play. Life is too short to just sit at your computer.

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