I wish I could pretend that I haven’t posted anything new because I was waiting to unleash some big news, however, it’s really just because my computer had been slowly grinding to a halt and it needed a new operating system (despite only being three years old). The issue was that Dave had offered to do this for me, but when it all came to a head he was away on-site with a client in Hawaii.
Now Dave is home, the computer is fixed, and I am here to reveal some personal news that is kitchen/cooking-related. One of the other reasons I’ve had a hard time blogging is because the light in our apartment isn’t great for photos and my camera spent most of its life knocking around in my purse without a case. The end result: dark pictures. Dave sought to remedy this, not by purchasing a new camera for my birthday, but instead…
buying a new kitchen with lots of natural light! In Florida! Yes, I’m telling you that we’re moving to Florida sometime in November. I would like to say that this was something we thought long and hard about, but it wasn’t. It took about four weeks from toying with the idea, to flying to Tampa, to making an offer, to where we find ourselves right now: post-inspection, pre-appraisal, less than a month away from our scheduled closing date. This was a no-brainer since most of Dave’s family lives in central Florida, his parents have a house there, my best friend in the whole world lives a five-minute walk away from this house, and my grandmother winters about two hours south of Tampa in Naples. The price was right and, as much as we were tempted to move back to Austin (where we met), or to San Diego, or Portland, or northern California, or Charleston, the price and location were perfect for what we need right now.
Here’s a picture of the front. It’s adorable. Just so you can be ready for it.
And, wait, whaaaaat? It has a backyard? We can finally buy a grill?
Yup. It’s pretty great. Also worth mentioning is that Dave and I divide the responsibilities in our household and, like a champ, Dave takes one for the team every day and does the dishes because I prefer to make the mess, not clean it. So, in case you missed it the first time, let me point out to you what I imagine will become Dave’s favorite part of this new dwelling:
Now, you’re asking: “Where the hell/heck is the apple pie? That was just a bunch of pictures of a house and I don’t care about houses or awesome announcements.”
Well, sirs and madams, here is the pie recipe–it’s not paleo AND it contains nuts, so be careful, gluten and nut-sensitive people! It draws from this recipe except that I am unwilling to sit and slice my apples into 1/4″ slices or, more terrifyingly, mandolin them and risk losing the ends of my fingers (I don’t eat a lot of apple pie and I’m not willing to disfigure myself for it).
If you want to use pre-made crust from the store go ahead, that’s what I did for my entire life until about a month ago when I made this pie for a pie sale to benefit the food-stamp program at my local farmers’ market (because I would have felt awkward pretending I made it when I didn’t, unlike when I’ve made pies in the past for my family and happily lied by omission).
As far as the filling goes, though, please take the time to cook down the apples and cool them before you assemble the pie. The point of cooking the apples first is threefold:
1) the pie spends less time in the oven and the crust is, therefore, less likely to burn (so you won’t need crust guards and all that nonsense).
2) the filling doesn’t reduce in volume to the point where there’s a huge gap between the apples and the top crust (makes for easier cutting).
Modified Half-Mile High Apple Pie
- 2 cups flour & extra for dusting your work surface/rolling pin
- 1/2 cup almond flour [Yes, I know you probably don’t have this but Trader Joe’s sells it for $3.80 a bag, it’s in the flour section. Grab some because we’re going to be doing a lot with it and because wheat is Godzilla and your body is Tokyo–almond meal makes a great replacement for breading]
- 16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes*
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
- 3 to 6 Tbsp milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- a “dash” of allspice
- 5 lbs of mixed apples
- 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest (if you can’t get the zest at least do the juice)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter*
*I like to keep my unsalted butter in the freezer so it doesn’t spoil (since I only use it for random stuff like pie crust/cakes) and then you can thaw as-needed.
The Kitchen Science
1) The crust: in a food processor, combine flour, almond meal, salt, and brown sugar; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture solidifies into a ball. (If you don’t have a food processor I think a hand mixer could probably get the job done provided that you scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula. My processor was too small by the time everything was combined, so I transferred it to a mixing bowl and smooshed it together with my bare hands. Like a burly kitchen-lumberjack. Never be afraid to improvise.) Remove dough from machine and shape into 2 discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
2) While the dough is in the fridge, start the apples. I grabbed two bags of apples from the market up the road, no clue what kind they were, but try to use more than one variety (although I would avoid Red Delicious all together but that’s just because they’re gross and mealy–if you like them then go for it). I peeled mine using our awesome super-sharp peeler that we picked up at Target. Note: Do yourself a favor and replace your crappy, dull, painful to use peeler with a new one. I used to make/lovingly ask Dave to do all the peeling because I thought I hated it. Turns out, I needed to raise my standards and throw down $8 for a new peeler. Remember that apples will start to brown quickly after they’ve been peeled. Grab your trusty apple slicer and make quick work of those cores (or use a knife and cut them as efficiently as you can, working around the core, to make semi-uniform slices).
3) Mix 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, allspice, and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Add the apples and lemon zest and toss to combine. Transfer apples to a large skillet/saucepan with a lid or a Dutch oven and cook, covered over medium heat, stirring frequently, until apples are just tender when poked with a fork–15 to 20 minutes. Drain excess liquid from apples by placing them in a colander (It’s going to be hard to watch all that delicious cinnamon-sugar goodness trickle down the drain, but it’s for the best).
3.5) Preheat oven to 425°F.
4) Back to the crust! While the apples are cooling and draining, remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, use a spatula to check if the dough is sticking to your work surface and, if it is, loosen it and add a few sprinkles of flour to keep the dough from death-gripping your counter/table. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.
5) Add the apples to the dough-lined pie pan and “sprinkle” 1 Tbsp of lemon juice on top (I accomplished this by flicking a silicone brush dipped in the juice at the pie…it was only kind of successful). Dot with butter!
6) Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold the top layer of dough under the bottom layer (like tucking sheets under the edge of a mattress) so that the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Take a lightly floured fork and press down on the edges the whole way around to seal the layers together and to make it look pretty. Score the top of the pie with three or four 2-inch long cuts so that steam can escape. (If you want to swab some milk on the crust with a pastry brush feel free, I like to do it, but it probably doesn’t really do anything.)
7) Set pie on a baking sheet (to catch any juices that may bubble out of the pie while cooking) and place on a bottom-ish rack. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 375°F and cook for an additional 50 minutes, until filling bubbles in the center and crust turns golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 1/2 hours.
If you make this pie please tell me, send me pictures, and give me tips! Or come visit us in Florida and I will make it for you, all you have to do is eat it.