Grab a Slice of Life — Happy National Pie Day!

An Apple a Day…

Today, January 23 is National Pie Day.  The American Pie Council recognizes this day every year to support the history and heritage of pie.  They encourage hosting pie parties for family, friends and neighbors.

Ideas for Celebrating:

The website has all sorts of fun ideas to celebrate with pie.  Share the ultimate “comfort food” by giving the gift of pie to your local police or fire department and let these heroes know that you appreciate all they do for your community.  If pie making is not in your schedule, stop by your favorite bakery or grocery store and bring home a gift of love and joy for the whole family. The coldest of January days will be warmed by a special pie dessert.  Reach out to new neighbors you might not have met yet – it says you’re thoughtful.  Has someone done a special favor for you? Acknowledge their kindness with the gift of pie.  Spend time with your children and make a pie together. You’ll make great memories and your children will be so proud to serve the pie for dessert..

Fun Facts:

The American Pie Council has a wealth of information on their website including this fun downloadable packet for National Pi Day (another day of the year on March 14 — perfect for all the math teachers out there!).

Did you know pie has been around since they ancient Egyptians?  The word “pie” was popular in the 14th century.  Early pies were primarily meat-based.  Pie came to America with the first English settlers.  The most request pie is apple, followed by pumpkin then pecan.  My personal favorite is Buttermilk…

Susan Apple Graas

Yesterday my lovely friend Susan Graas taught a class at Central Market on how to make her signature apple pie.  It was such fun! She led the class step-by-step on how to make her flaky homemade double crust, to the delicious cinnamon sugar apple filling. Everyone went home with a pie to bake, a slice to enjoy there, sips of Prosecco and a fun kit with a pie server and recipe cards including her recipe.

Susan has a beautiful blog and is the quintessential homemaker.  She sews most of all her own clothes including the cutest aprons, and raises chickens — June being the matriarch — that lay gorgeous blue and green eggs.

Susan has been featured on Bobby Flay’s Food Network series Dinner with Bobby where she and her friend Grace-Ann won the “Best Home Cook” episode filmed in Dallas.  Susan has earned several blue ribbons from the State Fair of Texas and won “Best in Show” for her lemon cake.

Her grown son, James, was in the class yesterday and said his most favorite food his mother prepares is homemade beignets on Christmas morning, followed by her chicken pot pie (we might not want June and her fellow nesters to know this).

I am sharing Susan’s delicious pie recipe with you on the blog today.  I hope you will treat your family with a homemade pie tonight!

Flaky Pie Dough

Ingredients

3 cups all–purpose flour

1 tsp salt

10 TBL (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices

1/2 cup, plus 2 TBL cold Crisco shortening

3/4 cup to 1 cup ice water

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt.

Add the butter and toss to coat with the flour, then flatten the bits of butter between your fingertips.

Add the Crisco, toss to coat with the flour mixture.  Flatten into pieces a little bigger than the butter.  Tip:  Use the tips of your fingers!

Sprinkle 3/4 cups of the ice water over the flour mixture and gently toss to incorporate.  Use a rubber spatula to push the dry fl0ur into the liquid, but do not stir mixture.  Tip:  Process of hydrating the flour without stirring is the secret!

The mixture is ready, when it holds together.  Add as little water and handle as little as possible.  Some dry patches and crumbs are okay.  They will moisten as the dough rests.

Divide the dough into two balls, flatten into disks, and wrap well in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Tip:  The dough can be frozen for up to a month, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Apple Pie

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

3 TBL cornstarch

1 tsp. ground cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling)

1/2 tsp salt

8 medium apples (about 3 lbs., peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices)

2 TBL lemon juice

2 TBL unsalted butter

Pie Dough (from recipe above)

All purpose flour for rolling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of the dough into a 13″ circle. Then fit it into a 9″ pie dish.  Roll the other disk into a 13″ circle.

Toss the apple with the lemon juice and sugar mixture.

Pour the apple mixture into the dish and dot with butter.

Cover the remaining dough circle, then trim the excess dough and flute as desired.  Cut about a dozen slits all over the pie.  Now sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.

Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juice begins to bubble through the slits, approximately 65-75 minutes.  Cover the edge with 3″ strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.

Transfer the pie to a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

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