Nan’s Country Apple Pie

The arrival of fall means it’s time to visit your local apple orchard. Nan honed her apple pie-making skills during the many years that her family owned an Iowa orchard. She likes to use two or three different cooking apple varieties to produce fuller flavor, and piles more apples into each pie than most recipes to create a generous fruit filling.

Pie Pastry for a 2-crust, 9-inch pie (see recipe below) or 1 package refrigerated pie crusts

8 cups peeled, sliced cooking apples (use 2 or 3 varieties, such as Honey Crisp, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or Empire)

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated  sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter

Half-and-half cream (optional)

Turbinado (raw) sugar (optional)

Cinnamon or vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Roll out half the Pie Pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle. To transfer dough, gently roll dough circle onto  rolling pin  and unroll onto a 9-inch pie plate. (Or use one refrigerated pie crust.) Gently ease pastry  dough into bottom and sides of  a 9-inch pie plate without stretching dough. Use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to trim pastry even with rim of plate. Use your finger or a pastry brush to moisten pastry on rim of plate with water.

3. In a large bowl combine apples, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir gently. Transfer fruit mixture to pastry-lined pie plate, arranging apples as needed to minimize gaps in filling. Dot with butter.

4. Roll out remaining Pie Pastry to a 12-inch circle. Cut slits or decorative shapes using a small shaped hors d’oeurve cutter. Center dough   over filling. Trim dough to 1/2 inch beyond pie plate. Roll top dough over bottom pastry and seal well. Crimp edge of pie.

5. If desired, brush top dough with cream. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

6. To prevent over-browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Place a baking sheet on bottom rack of oven. Place pie on middle oven shelf. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil; bake another 25 to 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and bubbly. Cool on wire rack at least 2 hours. Serve warm or cool with ice cream, if desired. Makes 8  to 10 servings.

Pie Pastry

Nan opts for using all shortening or lard because it makes a flakier pastry. But if you prefer a buttery flavor, use a combo of half shortening, half butter.

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup shortening, lard, or half shortening-half lard

8 to 10 tablespoons ice-cold water

1. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are the size of small peas.

2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water over part of the flour mixture. Toss with a fork. Push moistened mixture to one side of bowl. Repeat moistening flour with a tablespoon of water at a time until flour is moistened and holds together. Form into a ball. Divide ball in half. Use as directed above for making pie crusts. Makes  pie crust for a double -crust9-inch pie or  two single pie crusts.

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