Our brother-in-law, Matt, makes the best pie crust known to man. Or at least known to us. This computer scientist knows a thing or two about how to bake! While we were visiting over the holidays, I BEGGED him to share his secrets with us. The recipe is based on the one from The Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook. Without further ado, here is Matt and his famous apple pie recipe:
You should start by preparing the filling. The instructions here are for an apple pie. For blueberry, get rid of the cinnamon and the butter.
Five or six medium apples (McIntosh work well)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
Peel and cut up the apples. I like to eighth the apples, then cut each of the eighths into four pieces. Put them in a bowl. Separately, mix the dry ingredients, then pour them over the bowl full of apples.
Now do the crust. The most important part of the pie is the crust. I have learned how to do this by watching my mom on multiple occasions, and then rewatching her as my technique started to drift. You may find it helpful to try many times yourself, treating this entry as your own mom.
Here are all the ingredients you will need:
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup Crisco or other vegetable shortening
4 to 6 tablespoons of cold water
Flour should actually be measured by weight, since its mass can vary by as much as 20%. Make sure you fluff the flour a bit before measuring two cups, so that it is looser and not packed.
Mix together the flour and salt with a fork.
Now put in the shortening. Cut it into the flour with a pastry blender, making sure to continually pull in the unmixed flour that gathers at the bottom of the bowl. You’re done cutting when it starts to stick together in clumps.
The next part is crucial. Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of cold water on top, and mash it with a stiff fork until it seems evenly distributed. Add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of cold water until you get a dough that is just the slightest bit sticky. It may help to pick it up with your hands and mash that way, once all the water is in. It’s hard to describe exactly how it should be because it is learned by experience. You should be thinking something like “This is too wet”, but if you’re thinking “This is way too wet”, you’ve likely gone too far. In that case, you could add some more flour, but I would recommend just trying to proceed anyway.
Divide the dough into two balls. One is the top, the other the bottom.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface, and transfer it into a pie pan. Push it against the sides of the pan, then trim the overhang with a knife. A good trick for transfering dough to the pan is to pick up one edge of it (if you’ve mixed it correctly, it will cohere nicely), and slide the rolling pin under it, draping the crust over the pin. You can then pick up the pin and use it to set the crust over the pan.
Now, dump the sugared apples into the pan. It should rise up nicely above the edge of the pan, but don’t make too much of a mound. I like to make extra sugared apples and eat some myself and also feed them to my three year old, endearing her to me.
Now, you need the following ingredients
2 – 3 tablespoons butter
Cut the butter into three or four pieces and put those pieces around the apples.
You should also wetten the rim of the pie dough in the pan with your fingers and cold water. This will help the pie top adhere when you press them together.
Now roll out the remaining doughball. In this case, it really helps to use the rolling pin trick to transfer the dough on top of the pie. You will really pay a price if you did not mix it well. But if you did mix it well, the dough will stay together well. Once on top, use a fork to press the top and bottom dough layers together around the edges, working your way through the entire circumference of the pie. Now cut off any excess with the same knife you used earlier.
Cut a few decorative slits in the top of the pie, and a few other slits for releasing air as the pie bakes.
Finally, you need:
Remove and discard the yolk, then whip the egg white. Use a pastry brush to apply a light layer of the whipped whites to the entire top of the pie. The silicon ones are best, since they don’t leave hairs behind on your crust.
Bake at 375º for about an hour. The pie is done when apples are bubbling out the top. It’s hard to overcook.
Pie is best pronounced with a Southern accent, i.e., “pah”.