Thursday, October 22, 2009

counter space

Last weekend it wasn't enough that I was surrounded by amazing scenery, peak fall foliage, friendly people, gallons... no, never-ending BARRELS of wine, and no responsibility until Monday. I couldn't just embrace the relaxation and do nothing at the end of a long day of winery visiting and Riesling drinking. Nope. I walked into the Vaala's blue lake house kitchen, took a peek at the enormous island with more counter space than two of my apartments, and saw one thing: pie crust.

It helps that you can't turn around twice up there without running into one darling fruit stand after another (can you believe they trust people to just leave money and take the fruit when no one is there!?). So after passing my 5th "pick your own apples!" sign, I gave my friend a look that said "puhleeeeaase?"

Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were just leaving our 7th winery of the day when the apple farm shut it doors for the evening. We got lucky and a farmers market down the street stayed open for us to grab a bag of 20 Ounces. Having grown up in Western Pennsylvania and worked at an Orchard when I was a kid, I was surprised I'd never heard of 20 Ounce apples (we lived in McIntosh and Empire country), but the label said good for baking so we snatched them up.

A quick trip to the grocery for butter, sugar, and flour (is anything as pure?) was all we needed before heading to the lake to make a Keuka apple pie. When you're at a "second home," whether it's a beach house or lake house, the kitchen is usually stocked with funny things that people leave behind and missing the things you need... like a rolling pin.

Luckily, the pie baking took place on day 2, and on the morning of day 2 there were 3 empty bottles of wine from night 1 sitting on the kitchen counter. And what does an empty wine bottle look like? Ding! The perfect rolling pin for a lake house apple pie.

We lit up the wood stove, threw on layers of flannel, made a pie crust and the rolling began. To be honest, I've never rolled a perfectly round pie crust like I did that night - I might be sold on the wine bottle.

The 20 Ouncer's turned a little applesaucey so I'm not sure how great they are for baking, but the pie was tasty as can be and oh so lake house pretty. This recipe is as real as it gets - 2 cups of flour, a cup and a half of butter, and 4-5 apples. Next time I'm Blackberry/wireless/internet-free, at least I can remember this crust recipe. YUM!

Old-Fashioned All-American Apple Pie
Jasper White's Cooking from New England

2 cups pastry flour (we used all-purpose)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
about 7 tablespoons of cold water

4-5 freshly picked firm and slightly tart apples
granulated sugar to taste
ground cinnamon to taste
about 3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits

Mix together the flour and salt. Cut the butter into pieces the size of a walnut. Mix the flour and butter together in a large bowl, using only your hands, until the butter begins to break up.

When the flour has just begun to pick up a little color from the butter, add the water, a bit at a time, and mix until the dough starts to come together. Since the exact amount of water needed will always vary, you have to develop a feel for how much to use.

Remove the dough from the bowl to a floured surface and knead briefly, just until the dough begins to smooth out. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate immediately for at least 3o minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel and core the apples and slice them about 1/4-inch thick. Toss with sugar and cinnamon to taste with the flour.

When ready to roll out the dough, divide it in half. Place one half on a floured surface, return the other half to the refrigerator. To roll out the dough, form each half into a flat circle and quickly roll it out in the shape required. Always roll the dough very thin (about 1/4 inch). Line the pie plan with one half and set aside the second half for the upper crust. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When assembling the pie, fill the pie with the apple slices, mounding them somewhat in the center. Dot with butter. Roll out the second half of the dough and lay on top of the pie. Wet the edges where the two crusts join, to form a seal. Using your thumb and index finger, crimp them together. Make vents for steam to escape.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. The smell will tell you when it is ready. Serve while still warm.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I never make pies that pretty but I always use a wine bottle for a rolling pin! I have a rolling pin somewhere but somehow wine bottles are more easily found :)

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