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June 1, 2008

Pie crust (Recipe: as-American-as apple pie)

All this week, I'm updating posts from the very first month of The Perfect Pantry. New links, new photos, and some great recipes for summer.

Piecrust1

When I was growing up, my family didn't "do" dessert.

I don't mean that we didn't eat it. We did, but dessert in our house meant one of two things: fresh fruit, or coffee-chip ice cream by the quart from Grunings, our local ice cream parlor.

There was no in-between.

And so, there was no pie, no making of pie crust, no learning how to criss-cross the lattice.

Eventually I learned to make a pie while working on an article about Little Brothers/Friends of the Elderly, an international community service organization that, among other programs, provides holiday meals to home-bound elders. It was November 1994, and I found myself in the kitchen with Rene Morrissette, the man in charge of getting hundreds of turkey dinners with all the fixings prepared, packed, and delivered by volunteers on Thanksgiving morning to more than 700 "old friends" in greater Boston.

A man who has to make 150 pies doesn't mess around with homemade crust, though he was a master baker who loved to do the from-scratch thing at home. No, Rene was a pragmatist who didn't want to sacrifice quality for quantity. He introduced me to Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust, which General Mills introduced to the marketplace in the mid-1950s.

Pie crust transforms humble fillings into quiche, empanadas and samosas -- and refrigerated pie crust occasionally transforms me into a baker. With both Canada Day and July 4th approaching, I'm planning menus, grocery shopping, and thinking I'll make a dessert that's as American as apple pie.

As-American-as apple pie

The classic. Serves 8.

Ingredients

1 package Pillsbury pie crust (2 crusts)
7-8 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith (or a mix with Empire or Macoun)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 8 small pieces
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Press one pie crust into a 9-inch glass pie pan. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, and toss in a large bowl with the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch, and stir into the apples. Spoon the apple mixture into the bottom crust, and dot generously with the butter. Paint the edge of the crust with a bit of the egg wash, or with water, and place the top crust over the apples. Press down lightly, and crimp the edges (make sure there’s a good seal). Using a sharp knife, make a small hole in the top of the pie. Brush the top crust with egg wash, then make 4-6 slits in the crust. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake 40-45 minutes. Apples should be tender and the crust a deep golden brown. If the crust is becoming too brown during baking, cover the edges with an aluminum foil "collar." Let cool on a rack for 1-2 hours before slicing, to allow the juices to set. Serve at room temperature.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


Also in The Perfect Pantry:

Empanaditas
Chocolate outrageous pie
Sweet potato pie

Comments

Yeah, my mom just always bought pie crust. I still to this day don't think she makes her own.

This is an amazing product. You don't realize how versatile and good it really is until you give it a try. It's great to keep on hand in the refrigerator, and I really like to make "free-form" rustic tarts filled with blueberries or sliced apples and dusted with powdered sugar. It's quick to prepare and always results in a "from-scratch" look and taste.

For those of us on a budget, the store brand of ready-made pie crust gives an excellent result. Make sure you check the list of ingredients and that they are in the same order as Pillsbury. You will find that many store brands are exactly the same. Happy Baking!!!!

its so nice to see a nice apple pie recipe. I just ate a very crappy apple pie at someones place for lunch today , and was wondering , how can u screw up an apple pie ??

What a great idea for using this versatile crust for savory dishes. I've been itching to try making empanadas after watching Rebecca make them. I'll use your recipe for the crust.

I didn't grow up with much sweet dessert either. Dessert was fresh fruit and an occasional popsicle.

Yay for companies that make our modern lives easier! I haven't had apple pie in years. We just bought, I don't know, 20kg assorted apples from the orchard the other day, I can feel a project for our daughter coming along.

Peabody, don't tell anyone, but I don't make my own pie crust, either.

TW, I agree. I use it more and more to make empanadas and mini galettes and things other than apple pie, though this pie is a darned good one.

Pauline, thanks for the tip about checking ingredients; I've had really mixed experience with store brands. Some are great, some not.

Kate, this is the first "real" pie I learned to make, and it's still a favorite.

White on Rice, I always feel like a true dessert maker when I present one of my apple pies. But it's the only pie I make. If I'm making dessert just for me, it's a bowl of fruit... or a sugar-free popsicle!

Neil, good thing I posted this recipe today -- or what would you be doing with all of those apples?!

I grew up in a small town north of Chicago, Il. We had a golden delicious apple tree and a cherry tree in our yard. My mom made pies from scratch with lard. When I got married in 1960 I decided to make a pie. How hard could it be? Darn hard! even lattice top was horrible looking. I finally did master pie making but nowadays I take the easy way out and use Pillsbury Pie crusts. Now that my family has grown I take one crust and lay it out on a flat surface, then I cut an apple into small chunks,put in small bowl and toss with a little lemon juice . In a separate bowl make a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little flour and then combine mixture with apples. Then I put the apple mixture on half the crust. Fold the crust over the apples, take a fork, using the tines, press the edges together to make a seal.Place on a piece of foil, make slits in the top, place on oven rack and bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Let cool and enjoy. This is good for getting that apple pie "fix" without having to make a big pie. My choice for buying apples is still golden delicious. Old habits are hard to break.

wow home made apple pie sounds great! And what a cool idea to use pre-made pie crust, it looks good and definitely saves a lot of hassle.

I can imagine a slice sitting on my plate and a huge scoop of ice cream on top. Yummy :)

I love a good apple pie! I think it was the first pie I ever made.

Ahhhh... pie crust... one of those things that I continue to try to master! This pie looks simple and foolproof... the perfect pie during my learning curve! :)

Helen, do you use one apple for each whole pie crust? That sounds like a giant -- and delicious -- apple calzone! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Noobcook, apple pie with ice cream (vanilla, of course) is one of my favorite desserts. I've pretty much given up making homemade pie crust now.

Mike, it was definitely the first pie I ever made, and it's still the only fruit pie I like.

Michelle, I always think it's great to know how to make something from scratch; that way you can really appreciate a good-quality store-bought product that tastes just as good but will save you time in the kitchen.

Lydia, making my "special pie" calzone is one of those "a little of this, a little of that. How many apples depends on the size of the apples. So, one or two. I buy apples by the 3 lb bag and these are not as large as the "pretty ones" in the produce dept. For the mix, less than half a cup of sugar with enough cinnamon when combined it takes on the cinnamon color and then sprinkle/shake in the nutmeg for a little extra flavor. I don't like it real sweet. Because one crust is folded in half this is enough for two servings. Served warm with vanilla ice cream on the side, puts it right over the top!

I might be the pickiest apple pie eater in the country. For me, apple pie must not be too sweet, too spicy, and certainly not mushy. The crust is just as important. However, I have learned that store bought crust is not a bad thing!

I'm a big fan of the Pillsbury crusts but do have a tip that will transform their enjoyment: roll the pastry slightly thinner, then put it into the pie pan, slice off all but an inch or so. Fold the inch over to form an edge. The thinner crust cooks more evenly and isn't in the least bit gummy. Excellent --

Helen, you're a peach! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

Nikita, I'm a picky apple pie eater, too. But when I'm the one doing the baking, I do go with the store-bought crust.

Alanna, great tip!

I've not made apple pie for ages, you've inspired me.

George, I'm delighted! As soon as the weather cools down a bit, I'm going to make an apple pie, too.

Stunned! I'm stunned that you use Pillsbury prepared pie crust. I don't find it at all difficult to make crust from scratch nor does it take a lot of time. Perhaps it's because I pretty much only make pies about 4 times a year because I can't make a pie unless company's coming to help eat it. Otherwise the pie will call my name until it's gone. (My husband will have one piece and call it a day - he's just not that into sweets, damn-him.)

I'm surprised.

Candelaria, I'm so grateful for prepared pie crust! I'm not much of a baker, so making crust from scratch really isn't my forte. And once I discovered that pie crust can be used for other things, like empanadas, I became even more of a fan.

I've tried many different apple pie recipes over the years and I must say that I was a bit skeptical about this one at first. I was surprised that when i first bit into it, that my taste buds went crazy. I was truly amazed on the results of this one. it's been added to my personal cook book. Thanks for sharing :)

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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