A few weeks ago, when asked what I would bring for the Thanksgiving get-together coming up Thursday, I volunteered dessert, and settled on apple pie. I was sure it wouldn't be too bad- I've made apple pie in the past, and at least 3 pear pies, which are the same concept. The catch? In the past, I've made French Apple (or Pear) Pies which have one crust and a crumble top. I had only used refrigerated crusts for the bottom, and the topping wasn't too challenging to throw together. Josh suggested I not use the store-bought crusts and try to make my own. I agreed with him- the crusts I had been using were somewhat tasteless.
As I started asking around and doing research, however, I discovered that crusts were not easy things to make, and most recipes called for equipment I didn't have, like a pastry cutter or food processor. This made me want to try it all the more- I like a challenge. And I always have my back-up store-bought crusts in the fridge if needed.
I looked at recipe after recipe, trying to find one that 1) didn't involve a food processor, 2) didn't involve nuts, 3) didn't involve refrigerating the crust for long periods of time. I settled on 2 recipes, because I had to make 2 pies, and if one turned out better than the other, that's the one that would come to Thanksgiving with me.
I ended up with two recipes. The Best Ever Apple Pie looked delish and looked like it would be fun to try the weaving thing, but Slashfood's Homemade Apple Pie was very well illustrated and looked easier. I figured between the two, I'd end up with something OK.
I started with the apples, obviously. I chose a variety of apples, basically because I couldn't remember which were the good ones to use. I picked up Golden Delicious, Jonagold, and Honeycrisp on Monday.
Actually, I made the crusts first, but I didn't take pictures because I was sure it would fail, and didn't want any embarrassing evidence. I don't own a pastry cutter or food processor, but had read another trick on a different website: use a cheese grater to get the butter into little pieces, then toss and mix with the flour. This worked surprisingly well. Between grating the butter and mixing it with the flour, I stuck it in he freezer to quickly chill it, because everything's supposed to be cold while making the crust dough.
After making the crusts and putting them in the fridge, I proceeded to peel & cut the apples. This is the most time consuming part of the whole process, in my opinion, and the part I like the least. I got one pie's worth of apples done (5 apples) and took a break from peeling to get the first pie in the oven.
I went to get the crusts from the oven, and retrieved the crust for the lattice-top pie. I rolled it out the best I could, and did as the recipes told me and folded it in half to center it in the pie pan.Turns out, I didn't roll it out quite big enough, but it worked out in the end. The top crust I cut into strips and wove (very gently) together (reminded me of my childhood potholder loom)
For the filling, I followed the illustrated directions and tossed the apples in the mix, then heaped them in the pie crust. I carefully put the top crust on, and was amazed at the result!
The pie cooked just as it should have, and came out beautiful. The second pie was made similarly, but with a top crust painted with egg wash rather than lattice top.
My only dilemma left: Which pie to bring to Thanksgiving, and which to bring to small group Monday? Josh votes the lattice top pie for Thanksgiving.