I love all the multicultural cuisine that I can get living down under but every once in a while I love getting back to my Downeast roots and making my grandmother’s apple pie. If you’re from Maine, you know that Mainers can eat pie at every meal of the day.
I think back to my time as a kid in Maine and have fond memories of my dad eating a huge piece of blueberry pie and a couple of donuts for breakfast before going to work. I hoped I had his genes when it came to packing on the pounds because he weighed 128 pounds wringing wet for his entire adult life. Imagine being able to wear clothes you had when you were 20 when you were 60. He could. He didn’t but he could have. Sadly those were NOT the genes I inherited.
A few words about my grandmother Maryjane. My grandmothers were nearly the same age but my father’s mother was 1 year older than my mother’s mother. Both my parents were the youngest of 12 children. (yes we were Roman Catholic) Whenever my grandmother Maryjane talked about my grandmother Agnes she always called her “the old woman.” I always thought that was so funny. My mother said it was because her mother was really active as an elderly lady and my dad’s mom was small and frail. I still think it was funny. My gran was from Quebec and she never spoke English. We grew up listening to her in French and replying to her in English. It’s a shame that we weren’t encouraged to speak French to her.
On to her pie! It’s pretty much a standard apple pie but when you’re tens of thousands of miles away from Maine, sometimes an aroma and taste can bring you right back home.
2 tbsps butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if you can)
7 c peeled, sliced apples (she used granny smith but I’ve found any apple sitting in the fridge will do)
3/4-1 c sugar (use more sugar with a very tart apple)
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps flour (use a bit more if the apples are very juicy)
Mix the dry ingredients and toss over the apples and mix to coat. Brush the bottom crust with egg white and place the apples in, mounding toward the center. Dot with butter. Place the top crust on and make vent holes for steam. I brush my pies with an egg wash to get that golden color but it’s optional.
Bake at 400F for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 350F and bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes. If the crust starts to get too brown, cover it with strips of tinfoil. (I can’t make myself use the word alyouminnieyum)
Maryjane’s Pie Crust
Ok, it’s not her pie crust because she would never have used butter in her crust – it was always lard. She said it made the best pie crusts. We don’t even have Crisco down under so butter it is for us.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar (or regular sugar)
8 oz butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water.
A few hours before mixing time, measure the 8 oz of butter and place in the freezer.
Mix the dry ingredients to combine.
Using the grater on a food processor, grate the butter.
Using the food processor slowly add the water just until the dough begins to combine
Place on a work surface and bring the mass together into a flattish dough ball and then divide. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but a couple of hours is best.
With this dough you will see flecks of butter (or shortening) and these little gems will make pastry as flakey as can be.
I made the pie to the left last night and it was yummy. Next time I’ll give you the best vanilla ice cream recipe in the world. They’re a matched set I reckon.