Friday, December 31, 2010

day 31 - crumb top apple pie

Today is it. The last day of my challenge.  Just 31 days ago I challenged myself to bake and blog every day.  I figured December would be an easy month to do this, with Christmas and parties, and baked gifts for all.  It started out tough, I mean really tough.  Fun to make something new every day, but eye-opening to realize just how much butter I was going to use!

I started out making plans, cookies one day, fudge another, etc.  Unfortunately I am not one who does well with plans.  Some days there was something I just had to make, for myself, for my family and certainly for my friends.  Other days it was what the boys voted for.  Finally, it was what did I have in the house?  I had some high hopes that never materialized, but I certainly feel like the month was a success.

So what did I make for my final day?  My family's favorite, the first thing I made for my husband when we were only dating, and I was trying to woo him... Apple Pie.  Mind you this apple pie has gone through some modifications in the past 10 years, but it remains the all-time favorite desert for my family.

We start off with a fantastic home-made crust.  I have only purchased a crust on very rare occasions, and have been scolded each and every time.  Not to worry, I will include the recipes.  My crust is a shortening crust.  Now I've tried butter crusts, but always go back to the shortening crust I learned when I was a kid.  It is a mixture of flour, salt, vinegar, egg, water and shortening.  It never fails me, and I'm sure that is why I'm so un-willing to try something new.  There is a second crust, not as good as my first, but it is a better stand-in than purchased crust.  It is on the tub of Crisco I buy at costco.  It makes only 2 discs of dough as opposed to 5 like my favorite recipe.  It works.

On to the pie.  I have only one cookbook I use for pies.  Even when I'm looking for a new recipe, I turn to only one.  Farm Journal Complete Pie Cookbook 1965. The very first pie in the book: Old-Fashioned Apple Pie.  This is what I started with. Double crust, traditional pie.  Not much added to the apples other than sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and a dash of salt.  The type of apple used in a pie varies widely, some use a combination of apples, some are just one variety.   I grew up with Granny Smith apples in my pies, and I still love that flavor.  The only modification to this recipe I've made, is the addition of orange zest to the apples.

There are several variations of apple pies.  After much taste testing, we all agree that a crumb top apple pie is our favorite.  Traditional apple pie filling, topped with a combination of brown sugar, flour, butter and a touch of orange zest.  The combination is fantastic and perfect.

You'll notice the pictures are only of a whole pie.  Unfortunately my husband would not let me cut into the pie just for a picture.  You can imagine what it would look like: flaky crust, layers of sweet apples, crumbly topping of sugar and butter topped off with a scoop of Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream . That is perfection, and the perfect way to end 2010.

Happy New Year!

Stay tuned, there is a new challenge for 2011, and I think you'll like it!

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