As easy as apple pie! Has anyone ever said that to you?
I always thought that baking a pie would be a really difficult thing. And when I saw the UTV ad with the tagline "as easy as apple pie", I'd look at Amma and say, "He's kidding, isn't he?" And she'd say, "No, it is supposed to be a very easy dessert." By that time, I had been baking for about 6-7 years and had even baked a black forest cake from scratch for my brother's 21st birthday, but I'd never tried my hand at shortcrust pastry.
Off I went to Ann Pillsbury's book for some more lessons on baking. This pastry dough is easy to master and I was so thrilled that I could bake lovely pies. Many years later, when I was with GE, there was a bake a cake or dessert contest. I didn't have a fridge, an oven or even a pie tin so I'd decided not to participate. I was spending the weekend with a colleague who was planning on baking gingerbread for the event. I went with her to the INA market and suddenly got very excited. Seeing my enthusiasm, she suggested that I buy the stuff and bake my pie in her house. She didn't have a pie tin, but she said I could use any cake tin of hers. I didn't even have a recipe, but there are times when I can really rely on my memory. And that moment was one of those. I did bake my pie and guess what? I won the first prize. Ever since then, I've been baking this at regular intervals.
Last week, a close friend was visiting from Bangalore. She has recently completed her PhD and started working. When we'd gone to see the Qutb Minar, I asked her if there was anything specific that she'd like me to make for her while she's here. She thought for a bit and asked, "Can you bake me an apple pie?" And I actually said, "Wow, you picked the easiest. Sure."
So, I baked this on Sunday morning. We ate a little, I packed some for her to take back and we've been savouring the pie, slice by slice.
The recipe modified from Ann Pillsbury's baking book:
For the crust:
2 cups Flour
2/3 cup Butter/Margarine
5-6 tbsp Ice Cold Water
1 tsp Salt
For the filling:
4 Apples (Granny Smith preferably, but anything works), peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1 tsp Lime Juice
1/2 tsp Butter
Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and mix together till the mixture resembles small peas. Gradually add the water and knead gently till it forms a dough. (Do not knead as you would for chapati/poori dough.) Divide the dough in two portions.
Roll out on portion and carefully place it in a pie tin.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon powder.
Arrange the apple slices over the dough.
Sprinkle some sugar of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Repeat this until you run out of both. Pour the lime juice over this. Top with the butter.
Roll the second portion of the dough and cover the pie. Pinch the edges together to form a pattern using the thumb and index finger of one hand to pinch some dough and the index finger of your other hand to seal the two layers. Make 3 or 4 slits in the top crust.
Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes and then at 350 F for 30-40 minutes.
Allow to cool a little (just a little) and cut into slices. Enjoy it while it is warm.