Saturday, October 18, 2014

Apple Pie│Faith's Fabulous Flaky Pie-Crust Recipe│Secret Ingredients│DELICIOUS!

 I apologize that I'm just now getting back to my blog, but don't worry—it has been very sunny in Saint Olaf and I have tons of things to show and tell you! We've had a super-fun, busy summer and fall. I cannot wait to catch you up with lots of overdue posts: our first harvest, friends who've visited, trips we've taken, photos, delicious details, art, and more. 

To start, let me give you a photo overload of our apple pie cooking class that took place back in September. Do you remember my Grape Jelly post with my friends Faith, Jodi, and Emery? Well last month we were at it again. This time Faith shared her secrets to making the most buttery, flaky, mouthwatering pie crust. 

Apple Pie Day:

On a beautiful afternoon in September, I ran outside to quickly harvest some apples from one of my favorite trees on the planet. Zach's grandparents planted our apple tree years ago, and it has grown so big and beautiful. I've loved watching this tree through all of the seasons. In the spring, the tree blooms white and fluffy, then mini green tart apples appear. As fall rolls around, gobs of large, shiny, red apples cling to each and every branch. I still can't believe how many apples grew on that one gorgeous tree. I grabbed my apples in a hurry (I'm usually running around in a mad dash to get everything done before anyone shows up at the house) and ran back into the house as Jodi, Emery, Kate, and Faith arrived. 

We needed to make the pie crust first so that we could let it chill while we peeled our apples. Faith brought several of her and Gabe's apples from their farm in west Iowa. (What big beautiful apples you have! Why, the better to bake with, my dear!) I actually preferred Faith's apples to mine for baking and I'll show you why at the end of this post.

Flaky Fabulous Crust

Yep, vodka!
As soon as we got ready to start making our apple pie, Faith went through the ingredient list and asked if I had any vodka. We were all a bit dumbfounded. Vodka, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, while making pie?  The vodka goes in the crust to keep the water from making the flour gummy. The alcohol molecules don't attach to the flour the way water does. That way, you are able to cut in your shortening or butter, add your flavoring, water/vodka, and keep a light, airy crust. This trick was figured out by some chemists in a pie-crust-baking study, and lucky for us, Faith was happy to share it with us. :)


  • Have a fabulous friend who likes to share her tricks of the trade.
  • Make your crust first so it can chill while you peel.
  • Take notes or photos. :)
  • Don't use too much water mixture in your crust. (3 tablespoons at a time until you reach the right consistency)
  • Do not overwork your crust.
  • Oh, and no sleeping in class! Unless you are Emery—we let her get away with it. 

After we had our crusts pressed into disks between our plastic wrap, we stuck them in the freezer to chill while we moved to the dining room table to peel our apples. Making apple pie takes time, but what a fun way to spend the day with friends. We even got to see Emery try her first taste of apple.
After the apples were peeled and sliced, it was time to roll out our crust. If you're really good, you can talk on the phone while you roll out a perfect pie crust. Would you believe Faith was actually talking pie to the person on the phone?
 Some people use fancy rolling pins in combo with the "regular kind." Rolling your crust between plastic wrap makes it easy to lift and store. You can just slide your pre-rolled crust into a freezer bag and stick it in the freezer for a later date. That's what I called being prepared!

Don't forget to take the plastic wrap off before  you put it in your pie plate. (I almost forgot that step, whoops!)

Sometimes you have to perform pie surgery. Don't worry, it only takes a bit of water to glue your crust back together again.
If Jodi and I can do this, so can you. When my pie crust turned out perfect in the pan, I was pretty proud of myself. Emery was quite impressed with Jodi's pie crust skills, too.
 You can make up your pie crust in advance and freeze them. I'll definitely be doing that to save time in the future.

After we put our top crust on, Faith taught us to tuck-in the top crust. What a neat trick. She also showed us how to make those classic scalloped edges.  Don't forget to make your vents and mark it with an A for Apple. Always brush the top with milk and sprinkle sugar for a sweet shimmery crust.

My first double-crust apple pie, made with apples from our very own tree. What an awesome feeling!

My apples cooked down a little too much in my pie, but Faith's apples kept their shape in hers.
Sometimes you just need to experiment with what you've got.  
Oh, and I never waste anything. All of those crust edges? I turned them into a mini-crisp. I had plenty of dough left over for the bottom of a small 4-inch dish and topped the crisp with an oatmeal brown sugar crumble.

Of course, I invited the girls to share in my apple pie. Pie tastes good alone, but it tastes even better in good company.

Thanks for sharing your tricks, Faith! It was so yummy and I cannot wait to impress my folks over the holidays!


P.S. Be on the lookout for our next cooking class in the country: coconut cream pie, coming soon!

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