an apple and a peach pie

an apple and a peach pie

I have never been much of a baker. Sure, I am known in my family for the world famous croquembouche that I created for Christmas when I was 15. What is a crouquembouche you ask? Well, it is a cream puff stacked mountain encased in spun sugar. Sound ridiculous? It is, but I had just watched Martha Stewart’s first Christmas Special on PBS and was eager to impress the foodie Flynn family. The dessert looked beautiful, tasted mediocre and I practically destroyed my mom’s brand new calphalon pot caramelizing the sugar. There was also the year that I offered to make a dessert for Thanksgiving and decided to dive right into the Bon Appetit cover piece, the Apple Hazelnut Merlot Pie. Unfortunately, having not read the full recipe until late morning, I didn’t anticipate the need to refrigerate the crust dough overnight. This caused the first fight with my dad. The second was over the only bottle of merlot in the house which was a ten year old wine he was saving for a special occasion. I substituted a cabernet, and again, it looked nice, but tasted ordinary.

These experiences caused me to forever equate baking with complicated experiences that bring on fights and cookware destruction. And since the results were never that great, why should I bother? Besides, I work at Pendl’s Austrian Bakery. I have easy access to unbelievable pastries and all I have to do is put them on a plate.

As I got ready to work on my recipe for the month, I reconsidered my take on baking. We are in the prime of local fruit season, with gorgeous peaches finally perfect to eat. Soon we will be in the heart of apple picking season. One of the major drawbacks for the single chef, if you want to bake a pie or cake, you had better be prepared to eat it every day for a week. I don’t know about you, but when I make sweets (usually cookies) I like to have enough to eat the night I make them and then the next day. Period. After two days, they lose their charm…and often go stale.

So this month I set out to research and make the most simple and delicious fruit pie ever. I went through my arsenal of books, including the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook my mom got me as a joke. Then I baked. Some crusts were light and flakey, some were a bit dry; some fillings were soupy while others set up to perfection. I present to you, the foolproof recipe for homemade two serving apple pie. For a baking dish I used my trusty two cup Pyrex bowl. I love these things. They are perfect for storing leftovers and for baking.

Pie Crust

This crust is multi-purpose as it does not contain any sugar. It is perfect for fruit pies, but also pot pies, empanadas and quiche. The filling for the fruit pies is sweet enough but if you prefer to add more, 1 tsp of sugar can be added to your dough recipe with the flour and salt. This is enough for about two 8 inch round crusts.

Pie Dough Tips

  • Keep your ingredients cold! If the butter gets warm it will blend with the flour and you will end up with an oily crust. If things start to warm up, throw it all in the freezer for a few minutes to cool it down.
  • The less you handle the dough the less tough it will become.
  • This recipe is for a food processor. If you don’t have one you can make it by hand, just use two forks to blend the ingredients.
  • Add water in small increments. After adding in 1 ½ Tbs, test the dough. It should look like coarse cornmeal. Try and form a small ball with a fingerful of crumbs. If it crumbles, it needs more water. If it feels mushy you need to add more flour.

Crust

2/3 c flour

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits

1 ½ – 2 Tbs ice water

  • Pulse flour and salt in food processor 3 times to blend.
  • Add butter pieces and pulse 10 times.
  • Run machine and pour water in slowly. First try 1 ½ Tbs, then check dough. Add more water if necessary.
  • Turn dough out onto a cutting board and form into a two balls. Place on plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and wrap it up. Put dough in refrigerator for at least 1 hour to chill.
  • Roll first ball into an 8 inch circle on a lightly floured cutting board. (If you have parchment paper, roll the dough between two sheets.) Lay the dough over the Pyrex dish and press to form the dough to the edges of the pan. Roll out second ball into a 5 inch circle.  Put prepared, unbaked crust back into refrigerator while preparing filling.

Fruit Pie Filling

You can make this pie with any fruit that you prefer. I made both apple and peach pies.

Filling Tips

  • You may use flour, cornstarch or tapioca as a thickener for your pie. Cornstarch seemed to work the best for me. Rule of thumb 1 Tbs flour/1 Cups Fruit; 1 tsp cornstarch or tapioca/1 Cup of fruit.
  • Vary the amount of sugar based on the sweetness of the fruit and personal taste.
  • If the fruit is very juicy, toss it will the sugar and set it in a colander to drain for 10 minutes.
  • Vary your spices depending on the fruit used. (Apple-cinnamon and lemon, Peach – powdered ginger)

Alternative Pie Pan: 4"x7" Pyrex

Alternative Pie Pan: 4"x7" Pyrex

Two Serving Apple Pie:

2 medium Granny Smith Apples

3 Tbs sugar, plus extra for topping

Pinch each salt, cinnamon and nutmeg

2 tsp cornstarch

½ tsp lemon juice

1 tsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Milk or Egg

  • Peel, core and slice apples.
  • Toss 2 -2 ¼ c apples, sugar, spices, cornstarch and juice in a bowl.
  • Remove prepared, unbaked crust from refrigerator, pour apples into bottom crust, dot with butter pieces and cover with second crust.
  • Pinch together crust edges and cut off excess. Cut three slits in top for steam release.
  • Place pie in freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 450º F.
  • Remove from freezer, brush egg or milk on crust and sprinkle sugar over the top.
  • Bake at 450º for 20 minutes to make crust golden.
  • Reduce heat to 350º and bake an additional 40 minutes. If the crust gets too dark, make a foil tent to place over it for the remainder of baking.
  • Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

Two Serving Peach Pie:

2 Medium Ripe Peaches

3 Tbs sugar, plus extra for topping

Pinch each salt and powdered ginger

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Milk or Egg

  • Peel, remove pit and slice peaches
  • Toss 2 – 2 ¼ cups peach slices with sugar and set in a colander over the sink to drain for 10 minutes
  • Return peaches to bowl and add salt, ginger and cornstarch. Lightly toss.
  • Continue as for Apple Pie.

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