Saturday, July 21, 2012

Apple Pie and Autumn Things

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The other day I was looking through some pictures and I came across this post about our trip to Abingdon. I absolutely loved that trip. We went wine tasting, walked around the lovely little downtown, visited a farmers market, ate at the absolutely delicious tavern, drove all through the country roads and spent a long weekend relaxing in the cold mountain chill of November. We said we would live there one day. As I was looking at the photos though, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about...my coat.




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I love this coat. I love the color and the slightly puffy sleeves. But I love the feelings when I wear it too; being wrapped up in warmth with the cold all around, the slightly scratchy wool on the back of my neck, the frosty bite of air on my nose, holding Witt's hand inside his coat pocket. This fall we are going on a week long trip to the north coast, visiting some friends along the way, for Witt's 30th birthday. I'll get to see the leaves change and wonder around Providence, Rhode Island, with Witt's friend Laura. We'll go through Boston and we'll taste Jonathan's homemade beer in New Hampshire. And, I'll get to wear my coat again. Mostly, I'm looking forward to the trip because I know that Witt is looking forward it more than anything else. Even though I wanted to plan a huge party to celebrate his birthday, this trip is so much more "him." And my coat and I will be along for the ride, enjoying ourselves I'm sure.


Speaking of fall, I made a delicious apple pie today from the apple tree in our yard. Witt was working next door painting an office ceiling and I helped until my arm almost fell off and then I came back and did this. 



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I like pie and I like whole wheat flour, which is good since whole wheat flour is kind of mandatory for me. I think apple pies are the easiest pie to handle a whole wheat crust. The flavors of tart apple and spicy cinnamon aren't so delicate that they can't stand up to the more hearty whole wheat. You will still get a buttery, flaky crust and it's actually not very hard to do. I say this because if anyone should be intimidated by pastry it's me. I really am no baker. But this easy peesy pie crust recipe turns out every time and there is no pesky cutting butter into flour with two knives (we don't do that around here). I got my crust recipe from here.


Rustic Apple Pie with Whole Wheat Crust 

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

1 cup butter (2 sticks), cold
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour (I like King Author Pastry or White Whole Wheat)
1 cup ice cold water (add ice to make really really cold)

For the apple pie filling:

6 cups apple slices (about 13 tiny apples, 5 large ones)
1 cup orange juice
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cinnamin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 packets Truvia (stevia) or 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 stick butter, in small pieces

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a standard pie plate.

To make the pastry, in a food processor pulse butter, salt and flour until mixture resembles corn meal:




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Place the flour/butter mixture in large bowl and keep it in the freezer for at least 30 mins, while you work on the rest of the pie. 

Slice up the apples, cutting your apples into four pieces by taking the sides off the core with each cut. Then slices each piece face down into wedges the same size. I am not a master at knife cuts and therefore just learned this technique. It makes cutting the apples easy and looks so pretty inside the pie. 



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My apples were very small so I found it easier to cut them into slices and then peel each slice, especially if you are like me and usually take half the apple with you when you peel it whole. Place the slices in a large stove top pan filled with the orange and lemon juice as you cut. Set apple mixture aside when all apples are sliced.

Take the flour/butter mixture from freezer and slowly add water, a few tablespoons at a time. With your hands gently work the dough into a ball, adding more water as needed. Separate the dough into two parts, one for the top and one for the bottom of the pie.

On a floured surface (I like to put wax paper down) roll out the dough into a circle the size of the pie plate. For the bottom of the dough don't worry about it being a neat circle or having jagged edges since it won't show.



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Once the bottom is rolled out, place the pie plate face down on the dough and taking the wax paper in your hands, flip over the paper and the pie plate. Gently peel off wax paper and press the dough into the pie place, taking off excess edges. Prick the bottom with a fork several times.



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In the pan with the apple slices, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, Truvia or sugar, vanilla and honey. Toss the apples in the juice and spices until coated. Place apples in the pie crust, draining the juice and leaving it behind in the pan. After all the apples are in the pie crust, place the pan with the cinnamon juice over the burner and cook on medium until simmered and reduced by half. Drizzle the sauce over the apples in pie plate. Roll out other crust on wax paper. 



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Trim excess dough into a circle and gently lift to place on top of pie.




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Press edges down with a fork and using a knife cut out a design on the top of your pie. Brush the top of the pie with egg whites for a shinier finish if you like.




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Bake at 425 for 25 minutes and then turn oven to 350 and bake for 30 minutes, checking to make sure the crust isn't getting too brown about half way through. Also...with your leftover pie scraps, be sure to put them in an extra pan, sprinkle with Truvia and cinnamon and bake for 15 minutes. This was my sister Lauren's favorite part of pie making growing up and it is yummy.


A slice of pie, perfect with some vanilla ice cream.



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That photo definitely has a 100 degree heat haze! But Autumn is just around the corner...




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