Friday, December 11, 2009

In MY Kitchen: Nana's Apple Pie

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Granny Smith Apples

To finish out the week, I have a post that outlines how to make my family's apple pie - better known as Nana's Brown Paper Bag Apple Pie. It's a yummy concoction that always gets rave reviews. And apple pies are always in season in the good ol' USA, right? Right. They are especially good this time of year, I think. So here we go!

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The recipe card.

While I ate plenty of this pie as a kid, I didn't receive the recipe until just prior to getting married a little over ten years ago. People brought recipes to give to me at one of my bridal showers. My (ex) Aunt Susie brought this particular recipe to me on that day, and I'm so thankful she did. I love having family recipes, especially this one. It's a particular favorite.

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Peel, core and chop the apples.

This recipe uses Granny Smith apples. They are excellent baking apples, and are especially large this time of year, which makes them easier to peel than the tiny ones you find in the summer. There are other good baking apples, but Granny Smiths are the old fashioned gold standard. You cannot go wrong with them. And, if you as lucky as I am, you'll talk your husband into peeling the apples when you make this recipe. If your husband peels, cores and cuts up the apples, the rest of the recipe is, well, easy as pie. And, of course, since I have the world's greatest husband, he always peels and chops the apples for me.

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While he is preparing the apples, get your pie crusts out to thaw.

You know how I feel about pie crusts - frozen or refrigerated are just fine with me. For this recipe, we'll actually make our own pie crust topper. You'll see that later.

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And make sure you have one brown paper bag for each pie you'll be making.

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Cover one cookie sheet with aluminum foil for each pie.
This pie can possibly (will) bubble over.

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Pour 1/4 cup of sugar into the bottom of the pie crust.

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And spread it around in the shell.

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Then, when the apples (4 cups) are ready...

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..start on the filling. 2 TBS flour.

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1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

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A dash of cinnamon.
Give it a shake.

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2 TBS lemon juice.

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1/2 cup of sugar.

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Stir it all up until the apples are all coated and the ingredients are well incorporated.

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Fill your pie shell with the apple mixture.

Mine always looks at least this overfilled. I like it to be nice and mounded because those apples will cook down and you don't want a pie that looks sunken in the middle. Mounding it like this will cause it to overflow, however, so you know, prepare yourself for an easy clean-up with the aluminum on the cookie sheet as mentioned before.

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Next it's time for the "top shell."
1/2 cup (one stick) of butter, softened...

Again, I am using salted butter here. I like the sweet-salty thing. But I know many true cooks only use unsalted butter so they can have control over their salt. Fine. Use unsalted. Just fine. Set the butter out when you (or your fabulous husband) start chopping apples so it's softened by the time you want to use it.

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...and 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour.

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Combine those ingredients into a crumbly mixture.

You can tell I combine the ingredients by hand. It's just the easiest way to do it, in my humble opinion. If you use a mixer, it gets beyond crumbly to completely combined. Some relatives of mine put it all in a plastic bag and smoosh it together that way. Smoosh - that's another highly technical cooking term. We use only the most sophisticated of terms here at the Ate Up Amateur.

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Do whatever it is you want to do to start to get a mixture like this one.

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Then transfer it to the top of the apple mixture.

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Try to do it evenly all over the top of the soon-to-be pie.

Yes, your hands will be messy. The good thing there is - I know this is going to be surprising to some - you can WASH THEM when you're finished. Also good to have the husband around to take these photos - butter and cameras don't really mix that well.

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Once you've used all the topping, it should look something like this.
Then go wash your hands. The messy part is over. For now.

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Place the pie carefully into the brown paper bag.

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And secure the edge. I use a stapler.

Some people just roll up the edge. I like to be a little OCD about it and make sure it's in there and not coming open. So I use a stapler. Why the brown paper bag? Well, it supposedly acts as an extra cooking chamber, allowing the apples to get softer and more "roasted" while the pie is cooked. It also keeps the topping from browning too fast before the pie filling is finished cooking.

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Put the bag on your aluminum covered cookie sheet.

Another important point - ahem. It is important to use a brown paper bag like the ones you see in the photos - just any shopping bag will not do. The brown paper bags have a special quality that makes them flame resistant when heated. Regular shopping bags do not this quality. I speak from experience.

Once, when we were remodeling our kitchen and I did not have an oven at my house, I took a pie, ready for the oven, to my mother-in-law's house to bake. I also did not have a brown paper bag, so I wrapped it up in a white paper shopping bag. I put it in the oven and left the house.

My brother-in-law Michael was still living at home at the time and was the only person home while the pie was in the oven. Shortly after I left, the bag started to smolder. He noticed the smoke, and instead of just opening the oven and putting the smoke out, he called his mother to ask her what to do. Ahhh, good Italian boys. They always think their mama knows best. Even when confronted with a smoldering bag right in front of them. Of course Cheryl told him to PUT THE BAG OUT, which he did. Cheryl then called me, I went back to the house to clean up the mess.

So, really, only use a BROWN PAPER BAG, if you for some reason were thinking of being as dense as me for a moment and trying something else. That's what I'm here for people - to burn down houses so you don't have to.

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So, put the whole thing in a 425 degree oven for 60-70 minutes.

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As it cooks and oozes out everywhere, the bag is also a great "catcher of the mess."

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After it has cooked, take the cookie sheet out and cut the bag off.

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The smell is amazing! Goodness it's wonderful.

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You can see all that sugar has caramelized up. And, well, over.

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Help me Rhonda.

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Once you cut the bag off, scoop up that aluminum for easy clean-up!

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There you go! A wonderfully tasty winter (or anytime) treat.

I did not take "slice and eat" photos because I took these two pies to someone else's home. Because they could not stay at my house. There is no room in the Inn for pie on a diet. They are pretty on the inside, too, though. Trust me. Or make one yourself. You'll see. You can of course serve this pie warm ala mode if that's what you like. Or with whipped cream. Even cinnamon whipped cream. It's also great cold too. Or for breakfast. Not that I'm eating pie for breakfast or anything. I'm just sayin'. You could eat it for breakfast if you wanted to. And I'm sure it would be good.
Nana's Brown Paper Bag Apple Pie

1 bottom pie crust
1/4 cup sugar spread into crust

For filling:
4 cups apples (Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For topping:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour

For baking:
1 large brown paper bag
1 cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil

Peel, core and cut apples into bite sized slices. Spread 1/4 cup sugar into bottom pie shell. Combine all filling ingredients until well mixed and pour into pie shell. Combine topping ingredients until it resembles a crumbled consistency. Place on top of filling evenly. Place pie in brown paper bag and secure it closed. Place bag on cookie sheet. Bake in 425 degree oven for 60-70 minutes. Remove from oven and brown paper bag to cool. Serve warm or cold, with or without ice cream or whipped cream.
Or for breakfast.
OK, another recipe for your holiday gathering is posted for you! I hope you will enjoy making and eating it as much as my family has enjoyed it over the years. It's a wonderful memory of my Nana, too, each time I make it, which makes me smile.

Best wishes for your December weekend. I hope you have a lovely time at holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, cleaning, decorating, watching football, writing Christmas cards, sitting around, or whatever it is you have on tap. I'll be photographing some more delectable recipes to share with you here next week, as well as doing a little more shopping. I am also very much looking forward to going to the annual Lessons and Carols service at church on Sunday night. It's a highlight of the season for me.

TGIF! See you next week.

1 comment:

  1. You got us again Amy. What a way to start the day -dreaming of good treats. Looks like a great recipe.


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