Two Girls, Two Guys, Four Pies - Part II

When Lindsey had the absolutely brilliant idea to have a 1950’s-style playdate in which we’d spend the day testing out various apple pie recipes, I couldn’t help but think of the apple pie. The one that my mom has made for as long as I can remember. It’s my grandmother’s recipe, which my mom swears is the best ever. EVER I tell you! It always was the best one I’d ever had. But then again, almost everything that my mom makes from scratch is the best I’ve ever had. Her sauce is divine. Her meatballs melt in the mouth. Her ziti is the most moist and delicious of all time. Her chili is full of flavor without relying on spicy ingredients. Don’t even get me started on her potato salad, barbecue sauce, coffee cake or pound cake. Oh and did I mention her stuffed cabbage, cookies or cakes? Somebody stop me before I start salivating.

Anyhow, when we decided to go on this pie-making adventure, I really wanted to try my mother’s recipe for the best ever apple pie, which was handed down to her from her mother, my Grandma Mary, a fantastic woman who I never had a chance to meet. I remember serving as mom’s sous chef so many times while making this pie (among many other things over the years), all the while listening to mom telling me how my mother always made the best pies. We would peel what seemed like a hundred apples for just one pie, stacking them higher and higher and higher, and then I’d watch as my mom made the flakiest, most delicious crust in the whole world. This seemed to me like one of the hardest things to get just right, especially once it came time to roll it out to the perfect size and then move it to the pie dish without breaking the entire thing. And don’t even get me started on devouring the flaky crust that was anything but sugary with a filling that was oh-so-appley with just the right amount of sweetness. I was always in awe at how this came together to make such a wonderful, delicious pie.

So when it came time to make my first apple pie without mom’s guidance (save for a few panicked phone calls), I kind of viewed this as a right of passage, since I learned it from her and she learned it from her mother. It was only fitting to include one homemade crust in the bunch and so for Grandma Mary’s pie it would go.

Using nothing but a knife and my own two hands to get ‘er done, I mixed all of the ingredients together, cut the mass in half and very carefully rolled out the dough onto my (clean) floured countertop.

Heavily flouring the rolling pin, I rolled each dough mass out to be just a bit bigger than my pie dish. Just as the instructions go, I folded the bottom crust into quarters and laid it over my plate.

Success! We then piled the goods inside the bottom crust.

After piling it all into the dish, we successfully covered the pie with the second crust and I once again pranced around like a school girl yelping with glee.

There may have even been jumping, yelling and high fiving involved. This was one of my most proud cooking moments ever! In fact, I literally did my own version of the happy dance in celebration.

And into the oven it went, thanks to Lindsey's awesome forking and top crust design skills!

The finale:

First impressions (and I’ll try not to be biased): This was the only pie that didn’t crumble into a mess when we cut into it, a telltale sign that this crust was anything but store-bought. In fact the top didn't even fall. The crust was just as flaky as a good crust should be. The overall unsweetness of the crust was off-set by the apple center, which was not overly sweet but not quite tart either. It was the most appley of the bunch thus far. Even the apples held up a bit better than Pies #1 and #2, as they were tender but a bit more firm so it was less like apple filling and more like straight up soft apples. And of course we found it necessary to add a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt, though it was completely unnecessary.

How did the overall pie stand up to Pies #1 and #2? What did the guys have to say on their weigh in? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out! And in case you missed the round up of our Pillsbury pie and Joy of Cooking pie, check out yesterday's Two Girls, Two Guys, Four Pies - Part I!

So what do you think? Have you ever made your own crust? Are you just intimidated by the mere thought of it (as I was until last week)? Do you have a family recipe that just screams this is the best ever? And bonus question: What is your favorite food moment, whether cooking at home or eating a fabulous meal at a great or hole-in-the-wall restaurant?