Who doesn't like pie?
At this time of year, bakers descend upon the grocery stores in droves. Each one intent on making their own special version of a family pie recipe. Pie tins, fillings, sugar and the like fly off the shelves more quickly than the store can restock them.
For those that don't bake, they head to frozen isle where the multitude of pie choices can satisfy almost any taste. If frozen pie is not the type of choice, there is always the grocery store bakery.
Still there is another option. Either local bakers or restaurant chains famous for their pie selection provide a "fresh" option for hungry desert eaters. From these pie providers, the choosiest of pie connoisseur can find a whole host of varieties. Pumpkin, banana cream, strawberry, lemon meringue, key lime, cherry, cheesecake - you name it, you can find it.
I can say that I adore pie. I will eat home made, frozen or bakery bought. Almost any flavor will do for me. I'm not that picky. But there is one type of pie that, in my opinion trumps them all. If it is offered in the choices, I will choose it every time. My all-time favorite is my Grandma's apple pie.
I have always been a fan of my Grandma's pie.
From the time I was very little, I can remember her in the kitchen hand peeling little apples that she picked from the tree in her back yard. She was so patient with each apple. It seemed like it took hundreds to fill each pie - they were that small. After she peeled them she mixed just the right amount of sugar, cinnamon and flour in a bowl and then sprinkled it over the apples. She carefully mixed them and set them aside.
Then she went to work on her crust dough. I remember her "cutting" small squares of cold butter in some flour mixed with a little salt, using only two butter knives for her tools. Then she sprinkled, again, just the right amount of ice water over her flour mixture until she had the right consistency to role it out for the crust.
I would watch in amazement as she rolled the dough out, perfectly every time. She was able to move it to her tin, skillfully and slowly - never tearing it. She knew just the right amount of her apple mixture to put in the crust. When it was filled to the brim, she would roll out her top crust, place it over the top and cut four evenly spaced slits on the top. Then she would methodically pinch the top and bottom crust together.
She would bake it just the right amount of time, until it was golden and bubbly. It tasted perfect every time.
Once I became and adult, I asked my Grandma to teach me how to make her pie. I wanted to be able to make a perfect apple pie. I watched expecting to take notes, measurements, apple choices, and cooking times. To my surprise there were none of those. My Grandma explained to me that to make this pie, you just know when it is right.
To me, that is what makes it so special. Each time she made it the recipe was a little bit different than the last time. But each time, it always turned out just right. Just as in everything she did, she didn't need to follow a set recipe to know how to get the job done. She just did it until she knew it was right.
Though I can't duplicate her pie exactly, I have spent a lot of years trying to perfect my version of Grandma's apple pie. Each year, in the fall, I peel my apples and make my mixture of sugar, flour and cinnamon and fill store bought crusts to the brim - I was never able to master the crust so for me, it is store bought.
Every year, my recipe is a little bit different than the year before. But, hopefully, each year, they turn out just right.