I was browsing one of my favorite food blogs the other day, looking for inspiration for quick weeknight meals. I found some interesting recipes, but I also found another, more exciting piece of news: That Monday, January the 23rd was National Pie Day.
Of course, I never realized that such a day existed. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised, seeing as there are holidays for almost everything these days. Who would have known, for instance, that January was National Oatmeal Month? Or that on February 11th, we can celebrate Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day. Am I supposed to be looking forward to catapulting my glass of milk off the table?
Anyway, while I might not actively observe Spilled Milk Day, I decided to honor National Pie Day by making my first real pie. It was also the perfect excuse to use my new dessert cookbook, which was a holiday present from my boyfriend. When I found the recipe for Sugar-Frosted Apple Pie, I knew I had met my match. I had most of the ingredients already (minus the 2 pounds of apples), and I love anything that combines cinnamon and apples.
For never having made a pie before, I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. The only warnings I’d give are not to follow the recipe’s designated baking time, and to really pay attention to the dough when you’re rolling it for the crust. The recipe told me to bake the pie for 45 minutes at 425 degrees. Again, it could just be my oven, but the top of my pie started to look golden brown and done by around 25 minutes. Leaving it in for thirty was pushing it.
Also, you can avoid dough sticking to the counter when you’re rolling it out by lifting it with a spatula, and checking to make sure there’s enough flour underneath. Luckily, I didn’t ruin the dough, or have to re-roll it, but it was a close call.
I saved the pie for an after-dinner dessert, but I’d recommend eating it while it’s hot; the apples will be soft and juicy from the melted butter, sugar and cinnamon, and the crust will be flaky and warm. Not to mention the smell from the oven that will still be lingering in the kitchen.
National Pie Day might be coming to a close, but my own pie-making days are just beginning….
Recipe for Sugar-Frosted Apple Pie (adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts):
(The recipe says to begin 2 hours before serving or early in the day…It me about three hours as a novice pie-maker.)
For the Filling:
7-8 medium-sized Golden Delicious Apples (enough for 8 cups)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1/3 cup milk
For The Pie Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening or butter-flavored shortening
5-6 tablespoons cold water
1.) Peel and core apples; cut into thin slices (there should be about 8 cups). In a large bowl with rubber spatula, lightly toss apple slices, flour, lemon juice, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.
2.) Prepare the pastry dough: In a medium bowl, with a fork, stir flour and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives used scissor-fashion, cut shortening or butter-flavor shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle cold water, a tablespoon at a time, into mixture. Mix lightly with fork after each addition, until dough is just moist enough to hold together. Shape mixture into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other.
3.) Roll out dough for crust: On a lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll out larger ball of dough into round about 1 1/2 inches larger all around than upside-down 9-inch pie plate. Ease dough into pie plate to line evenly* ; trim dough edge, leaving 1-inch overhand. Reserve dough trimmings.
3.) Spoon apple mixture into crust. Cut margarine or butter into small pieces; sprinkle over apple filling.
4.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out remaining dough as for bottom crust; place over filling. Trim dough edge, leaving 1-inch overhang. Fold overhang under; make Decorative Pie Edge if you so choose (the cookbook provided many examples. I just pinched the dough around the edges until it resembled a wave.)
5.) Reroll dough trimmings. With a knife or cookie cutter, cut 7 leaves, rerolling dough if necessary. Arrange leaves on top of pie. Lightly brush top of pie with milk.
6.) With tip of knife, cut hole in top crust to allow steam to escape during baking.
7.) In a small bowl, mix remaining 1 tablespoon sugar with remaining 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle sugar mixture over pie. Set pie on cookie sheet and bake 20-40 minutes, or until crust is golden and apples are tender.
8.) Remove pie to wire rack; cool slightly. Eat as soon as possible:)
*When you ease the dough into the pie plate, you can do so by using the floured rolling pin. Make sure the rolling pin is evenly coated with flour, and starting at the outside edge of the rolled-out dough, ease the dough from the counter onto the rolling pin. Do it very slowly and gently, and do not roll the dough tightly. Then, you can slowly ease the dough into the pie plate by unrolling it off the pin. It’s easier said than done, but it’s also a little safer than trying to pick up the dough, and place it in the pie plate yourself.