Holy moly, I bit off very nearly more than I can chew. On Saturday, Jason and I made our yearly pilgrimage to Hollabaugh Bros. for apple “picking” (can you be said to have picked them if you selected them from a bin?) Despite some cold, wet, gloomy weather and some changes we found at the farm, it was a great day. We came away with 101 apples and three handfuls of pears! Good grief. The plan was to make apple butter for canning, apple pies for freezing, baked apples for breakfast, and maybe cider if I got terribly ambitious. Unfortunately, getting the apples coincided with the start of a very labor intensive project (more on that soon). So for the last three days I have been up to my eyes in pies and the smell of slow simmering apple butter has filled our house. . .and I have been completely overwhelmed. I’ve been brooding in black like some apple angst-ing, pie baking Hamlet: Alas, poor York! I knew him. . . (Wah, wah. York,Yorick, get it? Sorry, a little apple humor!)
However, this morning I rolled out my last pie top, and processed a dozen jars-o-jam. . .butter. Cider is not going to happen. I have learned my limits people. For the last several months I feel like I have been taking on what seemed to be perfectly reasonable projects that turn out, for one reason or another (usually my own dreadful inefficiency), to be absolute monsters!
Speaking of monsters, let’s talk about these pies. Pie making is actually therapeutic for me. Despite the fact that I will not savor even a single bit of the finished product, I love every part of the process. I make the dough, an all butter dough, by hand, because I like to control the final texture exactly. I peel, core, slice and season the apples, and until this batch, I even layered in each slice in spirals to get the most densely packed, fall proof pies possible. Control freak, right here! Well, that hand layering didn’t happen this year. . .did I mention I was feeling overwhelmed–curse you, apple butter! As we speak there are 18 cup pies and half a dozen mini pies residing in my freezer, right on top of my massive stockpile of tomato soup :). I would love to be able to tell you that the pie recipe is original to me, but credit must be given where it is due. The dough and the filling are Martha Stewart’s. I have used these recipes for eight years now and for a stellar, let-your-apples-shine pie, I know none better.
1. freeze/chill your butter, your bowls, your water. . .everything that will touch the dough that can possibly be frozen or chilled.
2. Don’t try to do pie dough in a hot room; you will regret it.
3. Kitchen scissors are your friend for cutting clean edges.
4. It is almost impossible to flour your rolling pin too much.
5. Save those dough scraps. They roll out just as well the second (or third) time.
So now that the apples are down to a manageable quantity, I am going to focus on my one little (big) project, getting ready for the Marine Corps birthday and its accompanying cake, and on getting my home ready for holiday guests (yes, it is taking us a long time to transition from being a one bdrm household to a two bdrm, but we are getting there)! I hope you all have had a marvelous weekend/week. Any of you take on any crazy projects lately? I’d love to hear about them!