pie, pie, glorious pie

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A friend of mine holds a pie party at his house every year, cleverly coinciding with Pi(e) Day. Everyone that attends must bring a pie, sweet or savory. We then taste test each pie and vote in five different categories:

  • Best Presentation
  • Most Creative Pie
  • Best Sweet Pie
  • Best Savory Pie
  • Best Overall Pie

It’s a brilliant ploy to have friends fill your house with all different kinds of pie with minimal effort on your part (well done, sir, well done).

I have yet to win in any of the categories. The first year I shamefully brought a store-bought blackberry pie that was unremarkable. The second year I made a strawberry-banana crème pie that sounded good in concept but was actually quite bland.

This year I gave it my best effort, making everything from scratch, including the pie crust. I was a bit nervous at this undertaking, since I’ve never made a pie crust from scratch before, but coming from a family of bakers I was confident that I had baking talent running through my veins and it would instinctually kick in once I started.

When looking for an easy but delicious pie to make, I turned to none other than my trusty friends at RealSimple.  I found an easy recipe for a basic pie crust and an awesome sounding ginger apple crumb pie.

I started the pie crust the night before the party, and baked the rest the morning of so it would be fresh and warm for the unsuspecting tasters. Here are the recipes – my notes are italicized:

Ingredients for basic pie crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Ice water

Method for basic pie crust
1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, sugar, and salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of the water. Pulse until the mixture holds together when squeezed but is still crumbly (add more water, a little at a time, as necessary). Avoid overprocessing, which will make the dough tough.
3. Place the still crumbly mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Shape it into a 1-inch-thick disk, using the plastic wrap to help. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
4. Place the disk of dough on a floured piece of wax paper. Using your knuckles, make indentations around the perimeter of the dough.
**The recipe said this would keep the dough from cracking, but mine cracked anyway because I think I made it too thin.  I fixed it by turning the pie tin upside down over the dough and tore off some of the excess pieces to fill in the cracks.
5. With a floured rolling-pin, roll the dough into an 11- inch circle (work from the center outward, and use the wax paper to rotate the dough). Flour the rolling-pin, was paper, and dough as necessary to prevent sticking.
6. Loosen the dough from the wax paper and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Fit the dough into the plate (avoid stretching). Trim the dough to a 1-inch over-hang and tuck it under itself to create a thick rim.
7. With the index finger of one hand, press the dough against the thumb and fore-finger of the opposite hand; continue around the perimeter of the crust. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
**I refrigerated the crust overnight.

Now for the pie itself:

Ingredients for gingery apple crumb pie
Pie crust
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
About 5 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
**I used a mix of McIntosh and Fuji apples. Add some lemon juice to avoid browning.
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
**Using fresh ginger is very important
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Method for gingery apple crumb pie
1. Heat oven to 375º F.
**Always place fruit pies on a foil-lined baking sheet in case the juices boil over.
2. In a food processor, pulse the butter, ¾ cup of the flour, and ¼ cup of the sugar until large clumps form.
**Be careful how much you pulse this mixture. I think I overdid it and it started to form a dough, so I had to manually separate the dough with my fingers to create the “crumbs”.
3. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. In a large bowl, toss the apples, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and the remaining ½ cup of sugar and tablespoon of flour.
5. Transfer the apple mixture to the crust, sprinkle with the crumb topping, and bake until the top is golden and the apples are tender, about an hour.

The pie was awesome, if I do say so myself, and the ginger is what makes it. Alas, I did not win this year, but I still had fun challenging myself.  And we definitely enjoyed eating all the leftovers.  Until next year!

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