I think tradition is a good thing. It's something you can depend on and in some instances it's the stuff that makes life worth the living.
I've developed a tradition with two very good friends. Steve Walls and Charlie Levan will take time once in a while to travel from their homes in Dallas, Georgia to Thomaston, Ga. for a visit to my shop. Steve and Charlie are customers but much more than that they're my friends.
Two things almost always occur when they visit. We have lunch at English's Cafe which has been in business since 1929 and sometimes if Julie happens to be off that day she will go into town and pick up food from there. Either way is fine with us, even though actually going to English's is it's own experience.
After lunch we have apple pie that I will have made that morning while they were making their way south thru Atlanta and to my shop. Dallas, Ga. is on the north side of Atlanta and so much so that I often jokingly tell them I think they actually live in southern Chattanooga, Tn.
We could actually eat lunch in several different places and that would be fine but the apple pie is a constant and there can be no deviation from the desert menu.
This visit usually occurs due to my need to borrow tools from them when I'm presenting at hand tool events and part of the deal is" tools for pie". This time around I'll be taking pie with me on my journey to return the tools after Handworks. I'm happy to do so because it creates another opportunity to visit with my friends and partake in the pie. It's a win, win for everybody as far as I can tell.
This past Friday morning as I was preparing the pie I thought it might be a good idea to publish a blog about the process and so I took many photos which I will post here with descriptions. The actual recipe will be offered in pieces in reference to a given photo so if you want the entire recipe you'll have to piece it together yourself but all the info will be included.
Put out your pie crust to thaw. If you're adept at making pie crust that would most probably enhance the pie, however in this instance I used a prepared crust (I usually do) and as long as you buy a quality product these work quite well.
Cut the apples into quarters
Slice each piece into thin slices, 1/8" thick or thinner.
Then chop the slices into smaller pieces by cutting thru the other direction as shown, smaller pieces allow the dry ingredients to coat more surfaces of the apple pieces.
Measure and add the dry ingredients into a large bowl. The dry ingredients include, 1 cup of sugar, 2 heaping table spoons of all purpose or bread flour, a dash of salt, 1 tsp of apple pie spice and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.
1 cup seems like a lot of sugar but this is a big pie. The dash of salt is an important ingredient, don't leave it out to reduce sodium. A dash of salt spread over this many pieces of pie is not much at all. You can make apple pie spice but it's easier to buy a premixed apple pie spice and it's just as good. The apple pie spice has some cinnamon but this recipe needs the additional 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. It will look like the picture below when mixed.
Add the sliced and diced apples. You can mix the dry ingredients together before you start processing the apples and then add the apples pieces to the bowl as you process each quarter apple. This keeps them out of your way as you process the remaining pieces.
Put one crust into the pie pan and form it to the bottom of the dish making sure the perimeter of the crust overlaps the edge of the dish as shown below.
Thoroughly mix the apple pieces into the dry ingredients. As my mom used to say "you gotta get your hands in it!" Make sure you get all the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl thoroughly combined with the apples. Go ahead, "get your hands in it!"
Place the contents of the bowl into the bottom crust arranging it evenly. You can add some pats of butter as I've done here. This is optional and I picked this up from watching Paula Dean on TV. When asked about adding this much butter she replied, " I'm your cook not your nurse!" It is rather okay to lick your fingers after this part of the process. Your fingers will taste like the beginnings of a good apple pie. Then wash your hands and proceed to the next step.
Unroll the top crust over the filled pie dish and then cut the edges even with the dish with a paring knife. Rotate the dish while making a downward cutting action with the knife. Easy Peasy! Discard the excess pie crust.
Pinch the edges of the pie crust together using your fingers as shown below.
Then perforate the crust using the paring knife. Perforate straight across the center of the pie, then turn the pie 90 degrees and repeat. Then keep dividing the spaces left with perforations. It should look like the picture below. It's necessary to ventilate the pie with the perforations in order for the pie to cook properly and so the filling stays in the dish.
Place the pie on a cookie sheet. Adding some parchment paper under the pie makes clean up much easer. Cover the top with aluminum foil. Place in the over and cook on 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until the crust is golden brown. I sometimes let the pie cook uncovered for as long as 20 minutes. If the crust is not brown enough after 20 minutes I turn on the convection fan for an additonal 6 minutes or until the crust is to my liking. Don't over brown the crust.
And here's your pie. If Steve and Charlie got wind of you making this pie they may be pulling into your driveway about now. Don't worry, you'll have a great time with those guys.
My recipe says this is "Ron's, My Oh My Apple Pie", now it can be your apple pie. Enjoy!
"Keep it between the ditches"