Monthly Food Column – Grandpa’s Orchard and Fully Loaded Apple Pies

By: Dennis Weaver Of The Prepared Pantry

My grandfather had a big orchard. At least it seemed so to us boys. We spent hours in that orchard—climbing trees, checking out bird nests, eating green apples, and doing what boys do. The outer row of trees had peach and plum trees and I don’t remember what else. We didn’t spend much time in that row. The inner rows always beckoned, more secretive and better to explore.

There was a giant, gnarled apricot tree with spreading branches that was easy to climb. There was a whole row of apple trees—Jonathans, Winesap, and I don’t remember what else. In the far corner of the orchard was a pillar of a pear tree with branches so thick and tall that it was difficult to climb and with a tangle of low plum bushes behind and along the fence. Beyond the plums and pears were the sand lots with sagebrush and scattered ponds with lots of frogs and an occasional jack rabbit. It was a boy’s paradise.

I remember picking apples at the end of the season with Mother and my brothers. “It’s going to snow,” she said. “We have to get all we want.”

The skies were leaden and we kept sticking our hands in our coat pockets to warm them up. The wind found its way through the orchard to bite our noses and turn our cheeks red. But the apples were incredibly good–cold, crisp, and sweet. We picked bushels to take home and store in our covered porch where we could have them until late in the winter.

I learned how to bake apple pies from my mother. I don’t recall her using a recipe. She would roll out the dough and line a pie pan. She would toss peeled and sliced apples in cinnamon, sugar, and flour. She would load up the pie pan and place chinks of butter over the apples before covering it with a top crust. In my memory, her pies were the best.

Rarely do I use a recipe when I make an apple pie. I just load and bake as my mother did. But I’m prone to add ingredients that my mother often didn’t have—bright red cranberries either fresh or dried, golden raisins, sour cream, or caramel sauce—whatever sounds good at the moment. I have a choice of cinnamons; she had whatever was at the store. She would put one of her boys at the sink peeling the apples; I use an Apple Master. I don’t think my pies are as good as the memories of my mother’s pies but I like them and I like making them.

How to Make a Fully Loaded Apple Pies

You can freelance your apple pies or you can start with a recipe and then add what you want to it. Here you will find a list of suggested ingredients like sour cream, dried cherries, and walnuts. You’ll find quantities but you can add more or less—it’s your pie.

The top crust always seems better if it’s slathered in butter and coated with a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon. You’ll find a choice of cinnamons here.

A Basic Apple Pie Recipe

This is a good recipe to use as base. It makes a nice rounded pie. Add more goodies to it. If it stacks higher, so much the better. Be sure and use a dark pie pan so that the crust bakes and is not soggy. We recommend a pie crust shield to protect the edges from burning so that you’re not tempted to remove the pie from the oven before the apples are tender and bottom crust is baked. Use an Apple Master to peel and slice your apples. Not only will it save you a lot of time but your slices are uniformly thick so that they bake uniformly. A just-add-water pie crust mix will save you more time and give you a tender professional crust every time.

Apples and cinnamon are essential companions. You have a choice of three cinnamons. Ceylon or Sri Lankan cinnamon is very mild and fruity. Korintje cassia cinnamon is what we are most familiar with—but the quality ranges widely. Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon is very aromatic and flavorful with a taste of cinnamon oil. For apple pies, we use Vietnamese most often.

Ingredients

For the crust:

9-inch double crust pastry from a just-add-water pie crust mix or equal.

For the filling:

8 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
For the topping:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the apple pieces with the lemon juice and set aside.

Prepare and press the pie crust into a dark pie pan setting aside the dough for the top crust. Trim the crust. Do not bake the crust.

In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon together. Add the apples and toss them with the dry ingredients to coat. Scrape the apple mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Cut the butter into chunks and spread on top of the filling.

Roll out the top crust. Brush the top edge of the bottom crust around the rim with water to help the two crusts seal. Place the top crust over the pie. Trim the crust and seal the two crusts with the tines of a fork or with your fingers.

Mix the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together with the remaining sugar. Brush the melted butter over the top of the pie. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top of the pie.

Cover the edges of the pie with a pie crust shield to keep it from burning. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the pie is bubbly and the crust is golden.

Suggested additions with which to load your pie:

2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup Bavarian cream
2/3 cup walnut pieces
2/3 cup dry cranberries
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup caramel sauce
2/3 cup dry cherries
2/3 cup golden raisins

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry and the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book that you can get for free. You can get a dough press and other baking tools and supplies at the company’s store as well as a free e-book of yummy desserts at the company’s site.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – Little Caramel Apple Pies, Quick, Easy, Luscious

By: Dennis Weaver & Julie Rencher Of The Prepared Pantry

You can have a batch of little apple pies in the oven in 20 minutes. That’s easy. But we wanted to make them extra special using the best fresh apples of the season. You can do that too.

Step 1: Mix and roll out the pie crust. You’ll need a just-add-water pie crust mix to make a good crust in a hurry. Elapsed time: 4 minutes.

Step 2: Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies. Elapsed time: 2 minutes.

Step 3: Use an Apple Master to core, peel, and slice your apples with a few twists of the handle. Add the browns sugar, cream, and starch or other ingredients from the recipes below. Toss. Elapsed time: 5 minutes.

Step 4: Place the circles in the press one at a time. Press about 1/3 cup apple filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press. Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Elapsed prep time: 5 minutes.

Step 5: Mix up your icing using powdered sugar, a little water, and flavor. It you would like a hard shell on the frosting, add a couple tablespoons of meringue powder. Once you have moved the little pies from the pan to a rack to cool, frost them. Elapsed time: 4 minutes

Premade filling or scratch?

Using a premade apple pastry filling is really quick and easy. You can knock about five minutes out of the sequence above. And the apple pastry filling that we sell is very good. But you can knock your family’s socks off with a homemade filling.

We wanted to make little apple pies using the best fresh apples we could find. We prepared the apples, added plenty of brown sugar and butter for the caramel, and made the pies. Too much juice. You couldn’t pick them up and eat them without making a mess.

So we added starch. We used Instant Clearjel. It’s precooked and does not require further cooking. As long as you cook your pies all the way through, you can use cornstarch.

We used Granny Smith apples for these pies but you can use any good cooking apples.

We wanted a Carmel Apple Pie. We made one using caramel ice cream topping. Along the way, we created a Brown Sugar Apple Pie, a Cinnamon Apple Pie, and a Sour Cream Cranapple Pie.

And here are the recipes:

Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

This is a very simple recipe to make. The filling is simply apples, caramel ice cream topping, and a little starch. We heated the ice cream topping so that it was easy to toss the apples in the topping. We used firm Granny Smith apples and no further ingredients were needed.

Not counting the water and frosting, this is a three ingredient recipe.

2 cups just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1/2 cup good quality caramel ice cream topping
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the pie crust mix and water. Roll out the pie crust until it is just less than 1/4-inch thick.

Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies.

Warm the ice cream topping in the microwave just until it flows easily. Place the prepared apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle with Clearjel.

Pour the caramel filling over the apples and toss the apples until coated.

Place the circles in the press one at a time. Scoop about 1/2 cup filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press.

Place the completed pie on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining five dough circles. Poke four sets of vent holes in each pie to allow steam to escape as the pies bake.

Bake for about 12 minutes or the pies begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used caramel.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor. Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary.

Do not make the frosting too thin. Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

Brown Sugar Apple Pie Recipe

This is a scrumptious apple pie. It’s a simple pie to make. The filling is made with brown sugar and cream plus Instant Clearjel to thicken the sauce. You can use cornstarch to thicken the filling as long as your little pies are cooked all the way through.

2 cups just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used caramel.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor. Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary. Do not make the frosting too thin.

Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

Cinnamon Apple Pie Recipe

Cinnamon was made for apples. We love the bright, distinctive taste of Vietnamese cinnamon and highly recommend it.

We first made these with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and most of us thought it was just right. Some thought that it was too much cinnamon and we cut it back.

2 cups of just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the pie crust mix and water according to package instructions. Roll out the pie crust until it is just less than 1/4-inch thick.

Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies.

Make the filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon with the Instant Clearjel. Add the cream and stir until combined. You should have a thick sauce.

Place the prepared apples in a large bowl. Pour the cinnamon filling over the apples and toss the apples until coated.

Place the circles in the press one at a time. Scoop about 1/2 cup filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press.

Place the completed pie on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining five dough circles. Poke four sets of vent holes in each pie to allow steam to escape as the pies bake.

Bake for about 12 minutes or the pies begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used orange.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor.

Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary. Do not make the frosting too thin.

Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

Sour Cream Cranapple Pie

Sour cream in a apple pie makes for a rich, creamy pie. This one has tart, ruby-red cranberries poking through the filling.

2 cups just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons good quality Cassia cinnamon
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel
1/3 cup dry cranberries
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the pie crust mix and water according to package instructions. Roll out the pie crust until it is just less than 1/4-inch thick.

Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies.

Make the filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon with the Instant Clearjel. Add the cream and stir until combined. You should have a thick sauce.

Place the prepared apples and cranberries in a large bowl. Pour the sour cream filling over the apples and toss the apples until coated.

Place the circles in the press one at a time. Scoop about 1/2 cup filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press.

Place the completed pie on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining five dough circles. Poke four sets of vent holes in each pie to allow steam to escape as the pies bake.

Bake for about 12 minutes or the pies begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used lemon.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor.

Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary. Do not make the frosting too thin. Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

What You’ll Need:

Your favorite cooking apples
An Apple Master to quickly peel, core, and slice your apples
A Large Dough Press to easy assemble your little pies
A just-add-water pie crust mix
Caramel Ice Cream Topping
Flavor for the frosting
Meringue powder, optional
Instant Clearjel or cornstarch
Vietnamese cinnamon or other cinnamon
Really good cranberries, If you prefer, you can use a premade apple pastry filling.

Your dough press can also be used to make calzones and pocket sandwiches. You can download a free e-book that tells you how to make pocket sandwiches with great recipes.

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry and the author of How to Bake a 250 page book that you can get for free. You can get a dough press and other baking tools and supplies at the company’s store as well as a complete prepared pastry fillings including Bavarian cream and Raspberry. A free baker’s library can be found on the company’s site.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved