As usual, when I feel weak in an area of cooking, I turn to the folks at Cook’s Illustrated. They are the “how” and “why it works” people. So, I suspect you will agree that a person nutty enough to name their blog after a dessert probably ought to know how to do it, right? Who can’t make a killer apple pie? Well, until yesterday, I hadn’t. I’ve made some passable apple pies. I’ve made some awesome apple crisps. I’ve made some rustic apple tart thingies. They are great because they are kind of ugly on purpose…which I love. But, an awesome apple pie…not so much.
Apple pie is the basis. It is the number one classic pie in my mind. It is grandma and flags and all that great stuff.
Excuse me if I go off on a tangent for a moment. Speaking of grandmas…I went to an estate sale last week. It killed me because every person walked right by a collection of hand sewn aprons. For eight dollars I walked out of this sweet little gingerbread house with two of the loveliest little aprons you have ever seen. And it made me so sad. This world is tooooo fast. It is so fast, and this little sweet woman just faded out of the world and all of these little jewels were left to be fumbled through and crumpled and tossed aside. It killed me. So go visit your grandma.
Anyway, back to how happy I am again about this great pie. It is absolutely, completely, (almost) verbatim from The Best Recipe Cookbook. And the secret ingredient that makes it all work, lemon zest.
One thing to think about before you begin. I have always blamed myself for ugly pie crusts. During this experiment I had an “aha” moment when it occurred to me that my air vent in my kitchen blows directly on my kitchen island. So, when the heater is on, my kitchen island counter stays fairly warm. This was completely monkey-ing with my ability to roll out a nice crust. Everything was getting sticky and difficult very quickly. I solved this by moving to another spot. I also tried putting ice cubes in a plastic bag and leaving them on the counter for a while before I started rolling. This works too. If you do this, just make sure there isn’t a lot of moisture on your counter before you actually lay down the dough.