I was driving to Chicago a few weeks ago with my friend, John and my son, Max. We wanted to buy a gift for friends we were going to visit, so we stopped at a "kitschy" little apple orchard and bought a pre-made pie. The pie looked tasty and we thought our friends would love this "homemade" treat.
We (and the pie) made it safely to Chicago and our friends were happy to see the treat we brought along. We ate the pie after dinner and to our disappointment, the pie was bland and tasteless. Our friends were too polite to say anything, but my son and I felt free to critique, especially since I didn’t make it. The crust was cardboard-like and the filling had no flavor.
I really should know better. Every time I buy a pre-made pie, I am disappointed with the taste and the quality. Even if the pie looks beautiful, it doesn’t meet my expectations. Each time I eat "store-bought" pie, I think, "I can make a pie that tastes much better than this!" And so, I started my quest to make a better apple pie.
If my pie was going to be amazing, I had to find the perfect apples. After researching apples I found an apple orchard near our house. My kids had an extra- day off from school, so they were excited to go to the orchard with me.
We arrived at the orchard and were thrilled to learn that it is also a working farm, complete with goats, chickens, geese, and cows. After spending some time petting animals, we went into the orchard to pick apples. The apples were not only amazing - they were perfect! Apparently the climate here in Minnesota this year was right for apples.
The apples were so beautiful, my kids and I could have picked 100 pounds that day, but decided we should stop at 20 pounds. We picked several varieties, one type that is better for eating, and some that are better for baking.
We brought our apples home and were ready to make our apple pie. The recipe I used is, Apple Ginger Pie. I like this recipe because it uses a standard butter crust and lots of spices in the filling. The recipe may look long, but it really isn’t difficult.
Begin the recipe by preheating the oven to 400°F and gather all of the ingredients together. Combine all the crust ingredients in a bowl, except the butter and cold water.
Measure the butter and cut it into pieces.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water with a fork until just combined.
Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it a bit, and place it on a floured surface.
Lightly coat the rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. It doesn’t have to be exact, but get it as close to 12 inches as you can. If the dough feels sticky when you are rolling it, add a little more flour. Add a very small amount of flour at a time. When you have a circle, fold the dough into quarters.
Place the dough in the pie pan, and then unfold it, pressing against the bottom and sides. There are many ways to "crimp or flute" the edges of the crust. The way that works the best for me is to use a fork and press down onto the crust. Continue all the way around the crust. Put the crust aside while you make the filling.
Combine the filling ingredients (except the apples).
Make sure the apples are cored, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch thick slices.
Add the apples to the filling mix, and then stir to coat the apples with the mixture. Spoon the apple mixture into the crust.
Mix the all streusel topping ingredients together, except for the butter. Mix in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is small crumbs.
Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the apples.
Cover the edges with strips of aluminum foil and put the pie into the oven.
Bake the pie for 35 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil. Return the pie to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. When the pie is browned and the apples are fork tender, remove the pie from the oven. Yes, I really do use a fork to test the doneness of the apples.
Let the pie cool for at least an hour, and then serve with your favorite ice cream. We used caramel swirl to top our pie slices.
By the way, this pie makes a great once-in-a-while-after-school snack. While eating the pie, my daughter said, "I think this is my favorite pie ever!"
This pie was not just a "little" better than the pie we bought on our road trip, it was 10 times better. The ginger and cinnamon in the filling and the streusel makes the flavor intense, but not overwhelming. The crust was flaky and light, an ideal match for the flavorful filling.
Next time I’m tempted to buy a pre-made pie, I need to stop and remember how much better the homemade Apple Ginger Pie is. Instead of buying the pie, I will buy the ingredients and make it at home.
Give this homemade apple pie a try, and let me know how it turned out for you.
Come back in a few days when Emily will share a muffin perfect for fall mornings.
Bridget is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.