Good Old Fashioned Apple Pie

My laptop died about a week ago. For the first couple of days I felt completely cut off from the world, despite having a phone that gives me access to Facebook, Twitter and basically the entire internet. I don’t keep a lot of information on my computer, I’ve heard enough identity theft horror stories to know better. I do however keep pictures on it. Lots of them. And I never backed them up. My trips to San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, and a few random moments in life are all currently in limbo. I know, I know, I should have backed them up, I promise I’ll never make that mistake again. My brother says he might be able to salvage them. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The loss of these momentos had me very stressed, but I realized there was more to my computer withdrawal than that. I missed blogging. I haven’t been doing this very long, but it seems it’s become an important part of my life. So I decided to pick up a pen and some loose leaf paper and start writing up posts to be retyped once everything was sorted out. I’m probably dating myself by saying this, but there is something very soothing about actually putting my thoughts on paper. I think better with a pen in my hand; I can chew on the cap when I’m stuck, cross things out, draw arrows linking thoughts. I think I might actually keep writing my posts this way. I know it’s a waste of time and paper, but I find it relaxing.

You know what else I find relaxing? Apple pie.

I love the feeling of the dough coming together in my hands, the sense of accomplishment when I roll it into something that resembles a circle, the meditative time spent peeling the apples, and putting my face up to the oven window to watch it brown and bubble. Don’t even get me started on the smell of cinnamon and apples. And the best part, the first bite of crispy flaky crust and the sweet yet tart filling.

Apple Pie

Crust

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup shortening or lard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-10 tbsp milk, cold (more as needed)

Filling

  • 5 Cortland apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  1. Make the dough. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter and shortening into the flour. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until it has a crumbly texture. Stir in 5 tbsp of cold milk, keep adding milk until the dough comes together.
  2. Form dough into 2 disks, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Once chilled, roll out one disk until about 1/4 inch thick. Fit the dough into a 9 inch pie plate. Chill.
  4. Make the filling. Toss the apples with the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, flour and cranberries. Pour into pie plate.
  5. Roll out second disk of dough. Place over the pie plate, cut off the excess overhang. Press the edges of the top and bottom crust together making sure the are sealed. Cut air vents into the top crust. Chill for 30 minutes.
  6. Heat the oven to 375. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Saffron Scented Pear Upside Down Cake

There is something very comforting about an upside down cake. It’s old school baking, which I think is the best kind of baking. Think chocolate chip cookies and  bundt cakes.

I saw this recipe while flipping through the October 2006 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The picture made me want to eat it immediately. When I read the recipe it confirmed what my eyes already told me. The addition of saffron and ginger give the cake a modern twist, but the caramelized pears give it a classic upside down flavour.

Saffron Scented Pear Upside-Down Cake

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2  Pears, (6 to 7 ounces each), peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.
    2. In a food processor, pulse the saffron and 1/4 cup sugar. In a bowl beat the sugar mixture with the butter until light and fluffy. Spread the mixture in the pan.
    3. Place the pear slices over the butter in a decorative pattern.
    4. Whisk the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry in a slow stream while stirring.  Spread the batter over the pears.
    5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes then flip onto a serving platter and allow to cool completely.