Who says you can’t have pie for dinner every now and again?

Cooking for others has become a joy for me.  When I can’t think of any other way to help out, making a meal for someone usually comes to mind.  Sure, in the entire scope of humanity, one meal isn’t going to make a tremendous difference, but often it helps.   And when I can’t think of a creative birthday present idea, I like to make a deep dish apple pie.

One of the best investments I ever made kitchen-wise was to buy this Deep Dish Baker at half price when I hosted a Pampered Chef show with my sister-in-law Laura in the early 2000s.  After hunting through the Pampered Chef website, I don’t think they make it any more (and definitely not its cover, which admittedly I don’t use nearly as much as the baker), but if you click here, it will take you to the next best thing.  At first I suppose it sat in my cabinets, feeling lonely and unloved.  But I remember the night I first made Taco Dip in it for a parenting class we were facilitating at our house back in early 2002, and since then, I’ve used it almost as much as my favorite coffee mug.   It has appeared in other recipes on this blog, namely the one for chicken pot pie.    In fact, it’s almost as necessary to my childbirth class as my workbooks and birth videos.

For this use, however, we started with granny smith apples: six pounds of them.  I wasn’t sure how many we could cram into the pie, but I certainly knew I didn’t want to be caught short.   Plus, my kids love granny smiths over any other apple variety (they’re sour pusses, just like their mom), so I knew they wouldn’t go to waste.

By this time, I was wishing I had one of those fancy peeler/slicer/corer tools, but alas, there is only so much room in my kitchen, and I don’t.  So we set to work doing it by hand.  I should mention that at this point in the process, it was just me.  Hannah didn’t know she was about to be indentured into the preparation of this ginormous pie.  It was probably better that way.  By the time I’d cored what felt like the 27th apple, I waved her into the kitchen with my bruised palm to work her magic.

 

Hannah and Patrick are in charge of making the lunches for all the kids every day, and one of the jobs Hannah enjoys is slicing apples for the kids.  Since I received a really sharp knife a few years ago as a birthday present, we can do all sorts of culinary tricks with it.  Chopping up cauliflower is like cutting through butter.  Chopping and mincing are a breeze, and Hannah has honed her slicing skills to see just how thin she can slice an apple.  I think she’s to the point where we can see through them!  In any case, I knew that she was the perfect person for the job.  I needed many thin slices to stack as high as possible inside the crust, and she was able to deliver.

As willing as Hannah was to lend me a hand with the apples, as soon as they were completed, she slipped into the other room to do whatever it is fourteen-year-olds do.  Perhaps it was to text her friend, “My mom just made me slice, like, two thousand apples! Ugh!”  along with all the appropriate text-speak that I pretend to be up on.   It was just as well.  When she’s ready to make a pie, I’ll be happy to teach her at every step, but I don’t want to push it on her.  I love to bake and want her to love it too.   This is the no-brainer step, as I like to think of it:  flour, sugar, lemon juice, and then (shhh! my cheating step…I use pumpkin pie spice in my apple pie.  All the seasonings are mixed together so I don’t have to.  I barely even measure them out, but sprinkle and stir until the color and aroma seem right).

Finally we’re almost getting to the baking point, the it’s-going-to-smell-sooooo-good-in-your-house-for-the-next-several-hours point.  That’s almost as good as eating it for me.  Way better than a Glade Plug-in, that’s for sure.

At this point, I start to wonder if I’ve gone completely mad in making such a huge pie.  There are supposed to be six adult consumers who may or may not be eating sweets at any given time plus eight children who may or may not like apples in their desserts tonight.   Is this overkill?  No matter, I tell myself, plus it’s too late to change.  The deep dish, enough pie for an army, it is.

My crusts always turn out the same.  I’ve looked at and studied different ways to decorate the crust–whether it be a fork, or a fancy cut-out design, but every time it ends being the “two finger pressed into the thumb” edging.   Oh well.  That’s just the kind of person I am: once I find something that works, I don’t venture too far from it.  In some ways, that’s good.  I’m sure I could use a little peril every once and again, however.

It’s only now that I realize I’m out of aluminum foil and have absolutely none in the house.  Because this baker is bigger than the usual pie plate, the usual crust protector like the one seen here doesn’t fit across the monstrosity.  I start to panic a wee bit, but think of my neighbor across the street.  That afternoon, Kelly was my hero because she came to the rescue with three strips of foil–enough to cover the edges of my pie and ensure that the crust didn’t overbrown.  Three strips of foil may not be a big deal any other time, but when it’s pie time, it will make or break your creation.  Thank you, Kelly!

Skip ahead around 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then another 35-45 minutes at 325 degrees and you’ve got yourself a beautiful pie that dwarfs any strange Lego minifigs you may have wandering through your kitchen (we have a plethora at our house, but they don’t limit themselves to the kitchen alone! They can be found in the dryer most days, and underfoot when it’s dark at night.)

And a lovely smelling house.

The pie, thankfully, turned out perfect.   At some point during the behemoth’s cooking time, I usually start to wonder if it’s too big to bake the crust all the way through on the bottom without overbrowning the top.   This time, however, there was no need to worry.  It was flaky on the top and around the crust, the apples were soft but not mushy, and the bottom was just fine.  Served with some vanilla ice cream, it could have been a meal in itself (not counting the lack of protein or veggies….I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about me in regards to even suggesting to have pie for dinner…)

 

And while it’s true that the children in attendance for this evening’s dessert chose cake and ice cream or just ice cream (with the exception of Hannah.  Patrick, to my utter surprise, skipped dessert altogether.), this is the damage done by those of us who indulged.   I did feel like someone could have rolled me home, but it was a good roll.  A happy roll.  A full of still-warm apple pie with a smidge of ice cream roll.   I’d do it again if I had six pounds of apples and three strips of foil.

If you’re interested, here’s the recipe I started with, straight from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

Apple Pie

1 recipe Pastry for Double-Crust Pie (this is what google is for, people)

6 cups thinly sliced, peeled cooking aples (about 2 1/4 pounds)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 raisins or chopped walnuts (optional)

Prepare and roll out Pastry for Double-Crust Pie.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of the pastry.  If desired, sprinkle apples with lemon juice. In a large mixing bowl stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add apple slices and, if desired, raisins or walnuts.  Gently toss till coated.  Transfer apple mixture to the pasty-lined pie plate. Trim pastry to edge of pie plate.  Cut slits in remaining pastry; place on filling and seal.  Crimp edge as desired.  To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Remove foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes more or until top is golden.  Cool on a wire rack.  Makes 8 servings.

 

 

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