S I G H
So yesterday, I was walking through the kitchen and realized that we had three bags of apples that have probably been sitting around too long. I have eaten several Macoun, but there were a bunch of McIntosh and Cortlands as well. I figured I'd roll them around so they weren't sitting on the same spot, reached in the first bag and came out with a handful of gross!! I was apparently too late. I had to throw away three or four apples, so I decided I better do something with the rest of them before we lost them all...but what?
Everyone in our family leans toward Apple Crisp, but we've had it so much, I'm kinda over it. I haven't baked an apple pie in a while, so I was wondering what I could do with a pie to change it up. My brain first went to the standards - raisins, cranberries, cheddar (my last apple pie had a cheddar crust). Then I thought of apple slices with peanut butter on them and wondered how a Peanut Butter crust would work out. I looked online to see if that has been done a million times but only saw one recipe. I didn't want to cheat and use theirs, so I figured I'd wing it and try to adapt my go-to crust recipe. I should have tried theirs!!
I have no idea where I got this recipe, but it has to have been more than 20 years ago, because I've been really good about documenting origins since then. Whenever I make a pie and someone comments on this crust, when I give it to them, they get mad at me for not having shared it sooner because it's so easy. Kinda therapeutic actually - just throw everything in a covered bowl, put the lid on, and shake the crap out of it until it all comes together.
2 c flour
3/4 c Crisco shortening
2 T melted butter
6 T cold water
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 t sugar
In trying to decide how to accommodate the peanut butter, I decided to cut back on the shortening because of the oil content in the peanut butter, and the water because of the moisture. I also wanted to include vanilla, so that translated to 1/2 c Crisco, 1/2 c peanut butter, 1t vanilla and 3T cold water. It turned out way too dry!
Start off by peeling, coring, and slicing your apples. I always slice mine, never chop. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it or not, but sooooo many people end up with huge peaks on their pies, I wonder if it's because they cut their apples into chunks, and when they cook down, they end up with potholes in their crust??? I normally leave mine on the thick side, but they're still slices, so they settle in nicely. I cut them smaller today though, because I have some mini pie tins I hadn't gotten around to using yet, and thought this would be a good opportunity to take them out for a spin.
Mose people seem to use some sort of filler in their fruit pies - flour, tapioca, etc. I like to keep it simple. I stick to just cinnamon and sugar. I have no idea how much. It's the love that goes in the pie; how can you measure love?!? I just pour in some sugar, then keep adding cinnamon and stirring until it's all coated and pretty much just a color I like. How's that for precision?
Set that aside while you put your crust together. That way, if you've got some juicy apples on your hands, they'll have a chance to drain. You want your filling to be juicy, but not soupy. If you've got a lot of juice at the bottom when you get there, and don't want to waste all that sugary-apple goodness, try pouring it into a cup of tea!
For the crust, I put everything but the water into the food processor and gave it a whirl to incorporate, then added in the water, one T at a time. I was thinking about what to use to cut out my mini crusts, then decided not to bother doing it that way. I just pulled off a meatball sized portion of dough and rolled it between sheets of waxed paper. Actually, that's what I was going to do, but I was having a hard time with the bottom crusts for some reason, so I just pressed the dough into the tins and rolled out the dough for the top crusts. Make sure you bring the bottom crust all the way out to the edge of the pan so you can pinch the top crust onto it to seal.
Aren't they cute?
OK, so this is when the waxed paper comes in very handy! Once you've rolled out your dough, lifting it by the paper, center it over the pie, then peel the paper away. Be sure to slice steam vents in the top. If I'm doing a full-sized pie, I'll sometimes cut out a shape - maybe a leaf and place it elsewhere on the pie with a few more cut out from scraps.
I always brush my top crust with egg. Some people use cream or jam. I'm always afraid the jam will burn because of the sugar. Sometimes I brush scones with cream or milk, but never my pies. I baked them on the pizza tray because they're so small, I figured it would be easier getting them in and out of the oven that way - and in case they decided to bubble over.
I don't know about your grandmother, but when I was kid, whenever my grandmother was baking pies, she would take her crust scraps, roll them into a rectangle, sprinkle on some cinnamon, sugar, and finely diced walnuts and roll it into a log to be baked with the pie. Sometimes, I would rather have that than the pie! In deference to some of my BakeSpace Nutella junkie buddies, I remembered we had a jar in the cabinet and decided to roll that inside my crust scraps! Tastes good with the Peanut Butter, but sadly, as I've said, too dry!
Sooooo, I baked them off for about 40" at 350. Of course I later realized that most fruit pies get baked at 375, but all I had with me at the moment was a list of ingredients. Whatever temp you bake at, look for a golden top, bubbles, and for your nose to tell you it's done. Especially when baking cookies. I don't think I've ever used a timer before. My nose will tell me they're ready, and if they're still a little glossy, I'll give them another minute or so.
OK folks, comments, ideas, jokes...I'm thinking maybe a peanut butter cookie dough crust, or maybe putting the peanut butter in with the apples and using a little plain or vanilla yogurt to thin it a bit. I definitely like the PB/Apple combo, so it's just a matter of figuring out how to translate that to pie!
As for the rest of the apples (because, in case you couldn't tell, I cut up way more than four mini pies would account for), they are safely nestled in a ziplock bag in the freezer for future reference.