Easy as Pie


One of the first cooking skills that I ever learned was how to make pastry and bake apple pie. My parents are both great cooks, but desserts and pastries aren’t really their cup of tea. So it was one of my neighbours who taught me how to make a pie when I was eight years old.

She invited me over one Saturday afternoon and asked me to bring my apron. We went through the whole process, making the pastry from scratch, then using it to bake apple pies. The afternoon even included a neighbourhood hike while we waited for the dough to chill. And at the end of the day, I was incredibly proud to bring home a freshly baked pie.

A few months later, my older brother enlisted my help in making a lemon meringue pie for my parents wedding anniversary. I made the crust, he made the filling and the feeling of our shared success was palpable.

Now it is my son who routinely asks if he can bake a pie. And we all love freshly baked homemade apply pie

Here are a few reasons to consider sharing some pastry-making skills:

• Rubbing butter or shortening into flour is really fun. Even little kids can enjoy getting their fingers into the dough.

• Since pies are not usually time-sensitive, they are perfect for older kids to make on their own. As long as they have an afternoon with nothing else to do, they can bake a pie!

• Pies are really forgiving. While there’s a few fussy techniques, ultimately, simply mixing up all the right ingredients will result in a delicious treat! An award-winning pie crust is not required.

Here is a simplified apple pie recipe. Perfect for teaching pastry-making skills to all the grandchildren in your life.

Fool-Proof Pie Crust

There are so many different versions of pie crust. Some add vinegar or lard. Personally, I like an all-butter pie crust. The flavour is amazing and it’s easier to only measure one type of fat.

21⁄2 cups of all-purpose flour or pastry flour

2 tsp white sugar (optional, only include it if you’re making a sweet pie)

1⁄2 tsp salt

1 cup of salted butter

1⁄2 cup of water

More flour, as required for rolling out the dough

Mix the flour with the sugar (if using) and salt in a large bowl.

Chop the butter into small cubes. Add the butter to the flour and toss to coat each of the cubes.

If you have a pastry knife, feel free to use that to work the butter into the flour. I recommend using your fingers. It’s a lot more fun. Especially if there are kids involved! Just rub the butter into the flour, breaking up all the large chunks. The goal is to have the butter fully mixed into the flour. It should resemble a coarse meal.

Sprinkle on 1⁄4 cup of cold water. Stir it into the dough. Add the remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time. The goals is to bring the flour into a smooth dough that is not overly wet. Don’t add all the water unless the dough feels very dry and crumbly.

After adding the water bring the dough into a smooth ball. I find this is easiest done by hand. Again, you don’t want to actually knead the dough, just pat it into a ball-like shape.

Divide the dough into 2 balls. Place each ball in a plastic bag and stash them in the fridge. Let them chill for at least 2 hours and up to 5 days before baking a pie.

Betty’s Apple Pie

Pie filling is often pre-cooked. This is because raw apples reduce in size as they cook, resulting in a collapsed top crust. However, there’s no way my 13-year-old is patient enough to pre-cook pie filling. So this recipe allows the apples to softens slightly without any additional cooking. The result isn’t a perfectly stuffed pie crust, but I’m pretty sure no one will notice!

21⁄2 lbs of apples (about 5)

1⁄2 cup of brown sugar

3 Tbsp of all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon

1⁄8 tsp salt

2 Tbsp butter

2 tsp white sugar

Preheat the oven to 425˚F.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Mix them with the brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

Leave the apples to soften for 15 minutes while you prepare the pie crust.

Roll out one ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough.

Then roll out the top crust.

Stir the filling and pour it into the bottom crust. Level the filling with a spoon or spatula. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot the top of the apples with the butter.

Cover with the top crust and crimp the edges of the pie to seal in the filling. My kids like to make a woven lattice-style crust. If you’re using a solid crust, use a sharp knife to slice the centre of the top crust two or three times to create a vent.

Sprinkle the top crust with the white sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350˚F and bake for another 30–45 minutes. The pie is done with the apples are soft and bubbly. You can test softness by poking a sharp knife through the top vent.

Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrishhttp://emillieparrish.com/
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog fermentingforfoodies.com.

Share this article

Recent posts