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Something wonderful is happening around here.  There’s a new baker in the house! My husband, Mi Amor.  What has he baked, you ask? So far: Chocolate chip cookies, brownie mixes, and cakes from a mix.  Pretty awesome, isn’t it? Humble beginnings with cake mixes and cookies – that’s how it starts, remember?  Never would I have imagined that in our middle-aged years (yes, I finally said it…), my husband would be baking, and sometimes right along side me.  Like the other night when I was baking this classic apple pie, and he was baking chocolate chip cookies (his second time in one week!). Yes, life is BEAUTIFUL.

I think part of the reason why I love to bake is the discovery.  I normally don’t make apple pie because frankly I think it’s too labor intensive – peeling the apples, making the crust, waiting 60 minutes for it to bake!  But, I had a special request for an apple pie from my mother-in-law.  I will do anything for my mother-in-law.  Quickly I pored through my cookbooks and settled for Martha Stewart’s Classic Apple Pie.  I trust Martha.  And, I trust my instincts – 2 sticks of butter means a great pie crust.  But, being that it’s been a while since I baked my last apple pie and the fact that it’s for my mother-in-law, I was still a little nervous about how it would turn out.

Well, thank God the apple pie turned out –  She loved it.  Life is BEAUTIFUL.

Classic Apple Pie – adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Makes one double crust 9-inch pie

FOR THE CRUST:

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup ice water, more if needed.

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender (I also used my clean, washed hands).  Add the ice water a little bit at a time.  Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together.  If it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface.  Divide in half, place one half disk in a piece of plastic wrap.  Cool in the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the other half into a 12-inch round.  With a dry pastry brush, sweep off the excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into the edges.  Trim to a 1/2 inch thick overhang all around.  Place into the refrigerator.

At this point, you have one dough disk chilling in the refrigerator, and the other disk rolled out and chilling in the pie plate.

Next, prepare apples:

3 pounds apples (I used Granny Smith) peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar, depending on tartness of apples

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Sanding sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:  In a large bowl, toss together the peeled and sliced apples, lemon juice and granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Arrange in the chilled pie shell.  Dot with butter.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining chilled dough disk into a 12-inch round.

Brush the rim of the pie plate shell with an egg wash, then place the second piece of dough on top, and gently place over the apples (I actually forgot to do this step and I was still able to seal the 2 pie doughs).   Gently press the top and bottom pieces of dough together to seal.  Using kitchen scissors, trim the top piece of dough into a 1 inch overhang all around.  (I didn’t have an overhang of dough, but I kept pressing and tucking).  Tuck dough under, and crimp edge as desired.  Brush the entire surface of the pie with egg wash, and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar.  Cut 3 vents in the top to allow steam to escape.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with the rack in the lower third of oven.  Place pie on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake until the crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juice are bubbling and have thickened, 40-50 minutes more.  Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely.

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