A long time ago I blogged about making pies for homeless shelters and food banks for Thanksgiving as a service project of youth groups. In parts 2 and 3 of that series, I taught you how to make a flaky pie crust. Click here to go to Part 2. It will have a link to Part 3. The filling recipe I gave in that series was one that was good when working with a lot of squirrely teenagers. It's the one you will usually find in recipe books.
Today I'm going to give you one that is far, far better. It's one I came up with myself, so you'll have to remember the old saying: self praise is half scandal. (Though I never was sure of exactly what that meant.)
You can make the filling first, using the recipe here and then go to the crust posting and follow the instructions there. For one two-crust pie (top and bottom), use just one batch of the 3-cups-flour, 1-cup-shortning, 1-tsp.-salt recipe. You'll use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup cold water for one batch.
First, you have to select the kind of apples you're going to use. If you're using fresh apples, you'll need 5 or 6 apples per pie, peeled, cored and sliced into thick slices. I usually end up with chunks about 1" x 1/2".
Or, you can use the apples you home canned using the instructions I posted last month. Use one quart of apples per pie.
Or, you can buy pie-sliced apples that are packed in water. I know you can get them in #10 cans at Costco and at restaurant supply houses. Some times you can find smaller cans of them at grocery stores, but last time I looked, all my local market had was apple pie filling. (You don't want that. This filling is much better.) A #10 can will make three 9-inch pies.
Here is the recipe for filling for one 9-inch pie:
1 1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of cloves
Bring 1 cup of the apple juice + 1/2 half cup of sugar to boiling.
Dissolve the cornstarch into the remaining 1/2 cup apple juice and add to the boiling liquid, stirring quickly with a wire whisk so it doesn't get lumpy. When it is thick, pull it off the heat.
Add the spices to the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and mix. When the spices are evenly distributed in the sugar, add to the thickened juice and stir.
Add the apples (drained, if you're using canned apples) and mix.
Set the filling aside as you make your crust and roll it out according to the directions in the links I gave you above. Remember, if you'll follow the instructions about cutting your crusts larger than the pan, moistening the bottom crust, and rolling them under before crimping, you won't have any leakage into your oven.
Bake these pies at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until nicely browned.
With this filling recipe you won't have the voids between the top crust and the filling that you get with other filling recipes that use only dry ingredients.
I realized I haven't blogged about custard pies yet. Custard pies are simple, understated deliciosity. When I was teaching an early-morning class to a bunch of teenagers, I used to defy the Friday Donut tradition by taking a custard pie instead. They loved it, and it was so much better for them. And, it's sooooo easy. Watch for it!
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