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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Last Minute but Still All Homemade Apple Pie


So here it is Thanksgiving morning and you really shouldn't be on the computer, but you just realized you need one more pie, with little time or counter space to make your usual masterpiece.

The following recipe goes together pretty quickly and, assuming you have some apples around this time of year, probably takes nothing you don't usually have in your cookin' kitchen. Start to finish, it should take less than half an hour to prepare and then can just go in the oven with whatever else you have baking, though there will be about 12 minutes that you'll want to pump up the heat to 400 degrees. The recipes for all parts follow a few hints.

First the crust. If you bought some refrigerated or frozen shells, they can be used; just bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees before putting in the filling. However, this recipe assumes that part of your problem is that you have to come up with a crust as well as filling.

(The crust for this pie is one I had posted here earlier, for pre-baked pie shells, at Pat in the pan crust.)

The filling is similar to "tart tartin" but it doesn't require quite so much care in cutting the apples or making sure that the filling holds together, as this will stay right in the pan, like any apple pie. And the crumbles on top are similar to an apple crisp, just a lot fewer, enough to cover the apples and keep them from getting too brown.

So here is the method to use for this "quick" version of a totally from scratch pie.

1.  Wash the apples, cut, and begin caramelizing. Preheat the oven to 400 if you don't already have it on for other things.

2.  While the apples are cooking, assemble the crust in the pan.

3.  Put the crust in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

4.  Continue to stir and caramelize the apples while mixing up the crumbles.

5.  Remove crust from oven and pour the apples into the crust--now is the time for a silicone scraper, as you need to be sure you get every bit of the caramelized juices out of the pan and into the pie! Bake as directed below.

Now, to the recipes for the three parts.

Fast, But All Homemade, Apple Pie

Crust
1 3/4 c flour
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 T milk

Filling
6 to 7 c cored but not peeled apples, sliced thin
1/2 to 3/4 c sugar, depending on sweetness of apple variety
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t mace (or nutmeg)

Topping
3 T butter, melted
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c flour
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t mace (or nutmeg)
1/2 c oatmeal
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts

Preparation:
Crust:
1.  Stir the dry ingredients together in a 9 inch pie pan.
2.  Mix the oil and milk together and pour over the dry mixture. Using a fork and then your fingers, combine the ingredients until well mixed. As you mix, begin to pat the dough into shape, pressing up the sides of the pan and then fluting the edges.
3.  Prick the shell in several places with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, just until it is beginning to look dry and set but not at all browned.  Remove from oven and fill immediately with hot apple filling. Turn oven down to 375 degrees.

Here is the unbaked pie shell and the apples that are just starting to cook:




Filling:
1.  Wash, core, and slice the apples. Be sure to use plenty because they will cook down far more than you know. My mother's approach is still my favorite--slice the apples into the pie pan (or one of similar size) and then heap them as high as you can, filling it at least twice as much as you would expect to have when you are done.
2.  Put the apples in a large heavy pan. Spread the sugar over the top, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and mace. Begin heating the apples over medium high heat, stirring as they begin to caramelize.
3.  Continue cooking the apples, stirring occasionally, until they are evenly softened and well caramelized. Early on, the juices will be somewhat runny, so you should continue to cook until the mixture begins to thicken and take on a caramelized texture. This should take about as much time as required to make and pre-bake the crust and stir up the topping. You'll probably be able to peel a few potatoes or wash the green beans or something else as well--just an occasional stir should be fine.
4.  Pour the filling into the pie shell as soon as it is removed from the oven. Be sure to scrape all the juices out with the apples for maximum flavor.

Here are the apples ready to go in the shell--note how much they have cooked down. As usual, my patting of the crust has resulted in a few cracks in the partially baked crust, but this will not create any problems with the final result--don't worry if your shell does the same!





Topping:
1.  Combine the butter, sugar, spices and flour and mix to an even paste. A table fork will work fine for this step.
2.  Stir in the oatmeal and the nuts and mix to an even crumble.
3.  Spread evenly over the pie (your fingers will work best for an even finish!) and return the pie to the oven.


4.  Return the pie to the oven (now at 375 degrees) for about 20 minutes, just until the filling  begins to bubble around the edges. If the crust starts to brown too much, put some strips of foil around the edge for the last ten minutes or so.

And here you have the finished product:









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