The holidays are literally right around the corner. The leaves are continuing to fall here in North Carolina. I’m on the road again, at the end of next week, traveling to New England to sign copies of my cookbook, New England Farmgirl. One of my trademark recipes is homemade pie. Recipes in our family have always been simple, but full of wonderful, seasonal flavors. Maple has always been a big part of our recipe checklist too. So, you’ll see I often use granulated maple sugar in many of my recipes. If you are located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine or Vermont, you can join me for several different book signing events in the next two months. Lord Camden Inn is hosting me for a New England Farmgirl breakfast at their gorgeous Inn. You’ll need reservations for this one. Check my events page for all the details and where to find me soon. I look forward to meeting you all!You’ll notice I kind of march to my own beat. I’m not highly interested in the newest trends or what “everyone else” is doing. I create recipes that are simple and ones that I want speak to me. Not what everyone else is doing. That is not to say that I do not read the latest food magazines or love new cookbooks. But, I do my own thing and always have. I take all of my own images. My goal is to get you to be able to lick the sugar crystals off the pie or pastry. I recently picked up a copy of Southern Living Family Dinners magazine, oh boy you’ll love this one- well worth the $12 price tag!
Let’s go back to Pie. My crust recipe is simple and listed below. You’ll want to mix it by hand with a pastry cutter. Do not use a food processor- I cringe every time I see some food blogger showing how to make pie crust and uses one. It makes pie crust tough and won’t flake nicely. Take your time, work in the lard and ice-cold butter until they are small pea-size pieces. I use pie crust making time as therapy. I’m in my kitchen (usually alone) and in baking mode. My Dad’s dear friend, Mr. Bendza always said that lard made the Best pie crust. And oh boy, was he right! Now that we live in North Carolina you can buy refined lard by the 10-pound tub. I keep ten to twelve pounds of butter in the freezer at all times- just in case when the urge to make something homemade comes up. During the fall and winter, we often have a bushel of local apples ready for all sorts of desserts. For this gorgeous Apple pie, I did a simple top crust, trimmed the edges, brushed the edge lightly with egg wash and put on pie crust leaves. Once you get all the leaves gently pressed on the crust, lightly brush the entire pie with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake. Find a 4 leaf collection of pie crust cutters at William Sonoma. I have a set I got about 8 years ago and use it all the time!
I use about 8 large apples. Peel them, core and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss with about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of minute tapioca. Stir together everything and spoon this apple mixture into your unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, place your top crust and crimp. Brush with egg wash (1 large egg and a splash of cold water- mixed together well with a fork) and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. Place the pie on a parchment lined half-sheet pan in a preheated 400 degree F oven for about 1 hour. Cover the pie with a piece of tin foil with a slit cut into the top to let steam out, if needed. This will help the crust not brown any further but the apples will continue to soften and cook. Let cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes and serve warm.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup lard
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, ice-cold
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ice water
- In a large ceramic bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Work in the lard and cold butter with a pastry cutter until you have pea-size pieces. Work in ice cold water a little at a time until the dough comes together. Clump the dough together with your hands a little at a time.
- Place the dough into a large plastic bag and place into the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
- Cut the dough in half. Roll out the bottom dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Place in a 9-inch pie dish. Place apples in the crust, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Roll out the top crust and gently place centered on top of the apples. Trim the edges with kitchen shears to 1/2-inch. Roll the crust under and crimp with your fingers.