I don’t care that the lattice top got messed up. I learned that I haven’t attempted to make a lattice top without my brother Jasper’s help in a very long time. I usually make apple pie at Thanksgiving when he’s around to help me weave them together gently. Anyway, I re-learned how to (kind-of) do it on my own.
Here’s how I made this pie tonight:
First I made the crust. My mom’s pie crust is the best, so I followed her method: mix 1/3 cup shortening into a heaping cup of flour with dry, cool hands. Throw in just a pinch of salt. Add cold water little by little until the dough just holds together into a ball. I did this twice (for the top and bottom crusts). Then I put them in the fridge so that the ingredients could coalesce and make little pie crust bonds while i prepared the apples.
Next I cut up all the apples into slices. I used apples I had leftover from when we went apple picking over fall break at Little Tree Orchards and some huge Mutsu (?) apples from Cornell Orchards. I would normally season them with brown sugar, a little white sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, but I had to skip the lemon juice and allspice this time because I didn’t have any. I also didn’t use any measurements because I didn’t know the amount of apples I had and therefore I couldn’t figure out how to follow a recipe. I winged it.
Two thanksgivings ago I learned to let the apples soak for a while in the sugar and spices. The sugar releases the juices from the apples, which settles to the bottom of the bowl with some of the spices mixed in. If you save this mixture it can technically be heated up and used in place of cornstarch to hold the apples together. I haven’t mastered this yet, but I tried it again tonight.
Once the apples were cut, seasoned, and partially drained I rolled the bottom crust out and placed the apples carefully into the pie pan:
Then I put the saved juices in a pan on the stove and heated them until they coagulated into a jelly-like substance. I poured this back onto the pie in the hopes that it would help the filling to be less liquidy. It did its best, but its best was not enough. My ineptitude interfered.
Then I rolled out and cut up the other crust into lattice strips:
I brushed egg all over the top and dotted butter on the inside as well to make it even more rich. Then I put it in the oven at 350°F and baked it (half the time with foil on top, which in retrospect probably wasn’t a good idea) for about an hour.
So the pie came out pretty watery. I have a couple theories as to why this occurred. First, normal people add add cornstarch to their pies. I don’t know why I’m so resistant to this practice; maybe it’s because I never use cornstarch for anything and therefore when I bake it’s never in the house. Second, I think the foil kept most of the moisture in during the first half hour of baking. I shouldn’t have used foil at all but I didn’t want the top to brown too quickly. Third, and I added a few more apples to the top of the pie (to make it taller) later on in the process. The latecomer apples didn’t have their full chance to soak in the sugar and let their moisture out and therefore probably contributed to the (tasty!) mess that is my pie. I also didn’t wait for it to cool down very much before I cut it open (I am impatient). Finally, my mother informed me after the fact that usually people bake their two-crust apple pies for 15 minutes in a 425°F oven and then for half hour or more at 350°F. She also suggested that my oven might be on the cold side. Maybe tomorrow things will have solidified a bit. It’s still really tasty, though, and in my opinion that’s the point. Despite the fact that when I served it the slices became cobbler, the apples have been transformed into delicious versions of their previously tired selves.
I’m learning. This practicing is good for Thanksgiving, which is now less than a month away. I’m very excited!