Saturday, September 1, 2012

Of Pies and Apples

I like to make pie. I especially like to make fruit pies, which is kind of a seasonal thing.

About six weeks ago, I made a cherry pie to take with us when my husband and I went to Richland to visit his mom.

For some reason, instead of following my usual recipe (my grandmother's recipe that my mom handed down to me and my sisters), I decided to consult Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I am so glad I did!

In his recipe for Flaky Pie Crust, he says to use a food processor (rather than a pastry blender) to mix the flour and butter. Genius!

That has always been my least favorite part of making pie dough, which is always a bit of a production. There are so many things in the sink that I have to wash when I'm through! Big things, such as a couple of bowls, rolling pin, and my mat for rolling out the crust, not to mention measuring spoons and cups, a couple of wooden spoons, maybe a spatula or two. And all the flour to wipe up.

It is not a tidy process.

It still isn't, but with the food processor, it's a bit less work.

My food processor is just a little one, so I have to do the top crust and the bottom crust separately. (Last week, when I made a blackberry pie, I tried to do both at once. Didn't work out so well. Won't do that again.)

I originally purchased the food processor to make hummus. That was its primary, if not sole, function until now. (I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets. A few years ago, I bought a cherry pitter. That's all it does. Pit cherries. And take up a fair bit of room in the gadget drawer. But when I want to make cherry pie, it redeems itself.)

The other good idea Mr. Bittman offered up was to put the pie dish on a cookie sheet while baking. Keeps stuff from dripping down to the floor of the oven and baking into an unremovable black residue. Duh!

I used to have a drip protector, but it mysteriously disappeared when I moved three years ago, along with a pie crust ring.

Anyway, today I made an apple pie. With Gravenstein apples. Which are THE BEST baking apples. They're what my mom always used to make applesauce.

When my daughter was little, I made applesauce with Granny Smith apples. It was okay, but something was missing. But I couldn't say what it was.

A few years ago, I poked around on the interwebs to see if I could find a local source for Gravensteins. They are unlikely to be available in regular grocery stores because they don't ship well.

I did find some possibilities, but before I had a chance to follow up, I happened to pass by the Yakima Fruit Market on the way home from work one day, and their reader board announced that they had — you guessed it — Gravensteins! I didn't have time to stop that day, but I made sure I did the next day.

I bought something like 17 pounds of Gravensteins and made applesauce. I didn't can it the way my mom used to, but instead froze it, which seems to work just as well.

When I sampled it, it was just the way I thought applesauce should be. Tart and sweet, but there was also this specific texture that seemed to be unique to Gravensteins. It was a kind of graininess, for lack of a better word.

It was how applesauce should be.

I haven't made applesauce in a few years. I still have one quart in my freezer. I should probably thaw it out and do something with it. Maybe make applesauce cake or applesauce bread.

But today I made apple pie. Do you see the A for apple?

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