Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie

Before we begin this post, I would like to welcome our sister Rachel to our blog, and put forth a potential new name for our blog (courtesy of my friend Ben): "Baking with the Matriarchs."

Okay, on to business. Big news (that's also old news, but I don't think I've ever mentioned it on the blog) - I, Sarah, will spending the next semester in Cambridge, England. This is very exciting. It is also faintly worrisome, since on top of all the other things I have to be anxious about, I don't know if I'll have access to an oven! Oh no! According to the lady in charge of logistics, "Your accommodation will have a small, shared kitchen or
'gyp' room in which you can prepare small meals (there are cooking restrictions)." What this means is an enigma, chock-full of intrigue and British slang such as "'gyp' room." Mysterious!

In any case,
as any Harry Potter reader knows, British people eat weird food like pumpkin pasties, black pudding and something called "spotted dick." Before I depart to this strange land, I was thinking about some uniquely American dishes, and nothing is more American than apple pie. Plus, my suitemates and I make pie at least once a year (usually on Pi Day, which I don't think they have in Britain since they write the date as 14.3 instead of 3.14), so why should this year be an exception? We always make the same pie. The recipe comes from my suitemate/love of my life, Emily Li, and it is the simplest, most fool-proof and yet most delicious pie in the universe - probably because it's filled with looooove. One time that we made it, we did not have a single correct ingredient, and yet it was still the best pie we had ever made...UNTIL NOW.

We do some variations, especially for the filling. For instance, sometimes we use pears; we usually throw in whatever spices we have around (in this case, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice) plus brown sugar - they balance each other out very nicely. We mostly make a lattice top covered in cinnamon sugar, except last year for Pi Day when we made 3.14 slits in it and used chocolate chips to make a "Pi" sign. Basically, we are dorks.

But back to this pie. I am quite certain that it's the best one we ever made. Even though none of us were very hungry, Emily, Devon and I ended up eating about a third of the pie by ourselves. Both the crust and the filling are totally rich and satisfying. It's incredible that something so simple could come out tasting so good. I have no idea where it came from, but it is surely a keeper

Emily's Apple Pie

For the pie:
1.5 cups of flour
2 sticks of cold butter
6 tablespoons of warm water

For the filling:
5 apples (we used Macintosh - you can also include pears)
1/3 cups flour
Brown sugar, to taste
Whatever spices you feel like using (we used cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg)
1 tsp. of lemon juice
Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butter into the flour using your fingers until some are the size of crumbs and some are the size of peas. Add the water and mix with a fork until it comes together. Divide the dough in half - there's no need to chill it. Take one half and press into the pie pan.

Peel, core and slice the apples. Toss the pieces in the flour, sugar and spices and dump them into the pie. Use the other half of the dough to create a lattice, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until the apples are soft and the pie is golden-brown, about 35-40 minutes.

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