Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Apple Spicy Pie

apple pie

We have been making a lot of apple pies and here's the recipe I've been using. I tend to prefer a spice-rich pie.


Crust (this makes a full top and bottom crust):
* 2.5 cups flour.
* 1 teaspoon salt.
* 2-3 tablespoons sugar.
* 1/4 teaspoon mace.
* 2 sticks butter.
* Ice water (some) [*or 1/4 c ice water, 1/4 c VODKA]

Cut the butter into the flour mix (quickly), add just enough water to stick it all together, ball into two blobs and wrap them as flattened discs (quick! quick!) and get them into the refrigerator for an hour. Once I was lax on the speed and only refrigerated them for maybe 4 or 5 minutes. I was not in a pie waiting mood. The pie was good but the crust was a little tougher than usual.

[* Another recipe I have used for crust calls for vodka to be used in place of some of the water. You add water first, then vodka (preferably directly out of the freezer) and you end up with a dough that is extraordinarily easy to press together with a wooden spoon. Ball, divide, flatten, and refrigerate the dough as usual. Supposedly, the vodka cooks off faster when baking and you end up with a crust that was easier to put together (easier to glob together, easier to roll out, etc.) yet that cooks into a very light flaky crust as if you used very little water. I'm not a crust expert but I am fan of vodka so I suppose for that reason alone, I heartily recommend trying it sometime.]

* Lot of apples. Enough for a pie.
* 1/2 cup sugar--half white, half brown (the recipe I looked at originally said one full cup, which seemed excessive and I made the first pie with maybe 3/4 cup total. It was too sweet and even 1/2 cup is maybe excessive depending upon how tart your apples are).
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon each: allspice, cloves, and mace
* 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix it all together until apples are coated. Some prefer to precook the apples first in order to avoid the gap under the top pie shell and to make the pectin do something to the apple which helps it hold its shape when baking (I read something somewhere once... yawn...). Whatev. Doesn't matter if you do or don't. Note: If you DO precook the apples, do not add the flour to the mix just yet. Cook the apples on the stovetop on med. heat until the apples are tender and letting off liquid but not soft or breaking up. When finished, then add the flour.

Has it been an hour yet? Get one of the pie crusts out of the fridge! Roll it out and plop it into the bottom of the pie pan, load with the apples and stick back in the fridge. Now roll out the top part of the crust and stick it over the pie. Crimp edges decoratively, cut holes in the top, decorate as usual, brush with milk or egg whites, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, etc. Do what you gotta do.

Bake in the oven at 400 for 1/2 hour, then turn it down to 350 for an additional 40 minutes. My oven is tweaky--as a matter of fact, I've NEVER had an oven that worked properly--and so I have to do a lot of checking toward the end. When the crust is golden (but not burned fer crying out loud) and the filling is bubbling, it is ready!

[Perhaps a little overdone; crust starting to burn on edges--whoops! I did not precook the filling in this one and had a gap under the crust. I stuffed the gap with whipped cream before I ate it though and so you know, it worked for me.]

apple pie

[More pie! This one possibly a tad underdone but no less tasty.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homemade White Bread

This is Craig's (my husband) grandma's recipe for bread. It is soo delicious and really easy to make. You don't need a kitchen aid or bread maker, it's all done the old fashioned way - by hand!

2 T. Salt
4 T. Shortening
8 T. Sugar
4 c. Water
4 - 41/2 tsp. Active dry yeast
12 c. Flour
melted shortening (or vegetable oil) - to oil the baking tins

- Combine the salt and sugar in 1 cup of water then microwave until the water is realllly hot. Then, add the 4 T. of shortening to the hot water. Stir it all together.

- Pour the hot water mixture into the largest bowl you have. Then, add the remaining 3 cups of water. Make sure the water is at room temperature now. If you have to add cold water that's fine, just make sure the water mixture is at room temp.

- Add 2 cups of flour and stir together. Then add the yeast and stir it in with another 2-3 cups of flour. It should be the consistency of thick, goopy pancake batter. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1+ hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

- After the dough has risen to double in size, stir the mixture with a large spoon so it returns to a goopy mixture. Then, add the remaining 7 cups of flour. When the mixture gets too hard to stir with a spoon, knead it with your hands. Once it has been all kneaded together (it should still be a little sticky) put it back in the bowl and cover with a dish towel and let it rise for another 1+ hour, until it has doubled in size.

- Once it has doubled in size again, take it out of the bowl and knead it some more. You can add a little more flour to help it knead better. Cut it into quarters and knead a little more. Each quarter should be the perfect size for a bread pan. Place the dough in an oiled bread pan and cover and let rise for 1+ hours, until the bread has doubled in size.

Bake at 350 for 23 minutes.

You can bake all 4 loaves at the same time.