Friday, September 11, 2009

Toot Toot! Tooting my own horn!

Well, this past Sunday was a great day at the Kendall County Fair here in South Texas... Our annual fair runs Thursday through Monday each year and each year I tell myself I'm gonna enter something in one of the categories. Well, this year I finally did it! It was the weekend of my little girl's first birthday (Happy Birthday E!!!) and we had a bunch of out-of-town company, so what better time! HAHA! But while I was perusing the calendar of events for the fair, thinking I would take all the out-of-town family to the fair on Sunday (Saturday was the big birthday bash), I noticed that there was an apple pie contest on Sunday afternoon with entries due by 1pm that day.

Now, I have been making Pennsylvania Dutch apple pie using a recipe from my grandmother for years now and have always gotten rave reviews, but most of those tasters were family and friends, so could I actually do any good in a contest? For anyone who's never made a pie in this style, it is not a "two-crust" pie like so many we see here in the south, but rather a "crumb crusted" pie with a streusel-type topping instead of a pastry crust on top. That in and of itself makes it a slight bit different than most apple pies served here in South Texas, so I wondered whether or not that difference would be good or bad when put up against some of the best pies in the county. Seems that it was a good thing in this case since I actually WON! Yes, my pie won the blue ribbon in the apple pie contest, beating out 9 other pies for the best of show. I can hardly believe it! This is the first time I have entered anything into the fair, so I am super pleased with my results. And there were sure some tasty looking pies up there! So, even though you won't find this pie recipe in ANY cookbook other than mine, I thought I'd share the photos and recipe with you, my friends in the blog-i-verse... Hope you enjoy them!

Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Pie

Serving Size : 8 Yield: "1 pie"

Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup lard
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter -- chilled & cut into pieces
  • 1/8 cup ice water -- to 1/4 cup

Pie Topping:

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter -- chilled & cut into pieces

Pie Filling:

  • 2 lbs tart apples
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For pie crust: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add lard and pulse 4-5 times. Add cold butter, a few pieces at a time, pulsing 1-2 seconds per addition. When butter is all in, add just enough water to cause crust to form a ball in the food processor. Form dough into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days prior to use. When ready to use, roll out crust and place into a 9" pie pan.

For topping: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour and brown sugar. Pulse in butter until cornmeal consistency. Set aside.

For pie filling: Peel, core and slice apples thinly. I prefer to use a mix of two different kinds of apples rather than one, usually choosing one apple that holds it's shape and one that bakes down a bit more. Toss apples with lemon juice in a large working bowl. Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in another small bowl and then slowly toss with apples. Allow to set 5-10 minutes then place into unbaked pie crust. Any juice in the bottom of the bowl should be poured over the apples in the pie. Next, crumble topping over pie, patting lightly to adhere to apples. Bake at 375° until done (about 40-45 min or until golden brown). Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or sliced sharp cheddar cheese.

My additional notes: Now, some of you are gonna say... "Lard! Ugh!" but to you I have to say that the half-butter, half-lard crust is key. Nothing else flakes like lard and unlike crusts made completely with lard (and yes, there are quite a few recipes out there!) this gets the flavor of butter but the flake of the lard. And chilling the dough is KEY. Without chilling, you won't get the flake. Also don't over-process your dough. Over-processing it will result in a tough, chewy crust rather than a light flaky one. I also ALWAYS use two different kinds of apples. One that bakes down mushy like a Braeburn or Macintosh and one that holds its shape better like the granny smith. This gives the best of both worlds with some apple texture and some soft "gushy stuff".

I also used fresh ground cinnamon. It's really a snap to make if you get yourself a coffee grinder and dedicate it to spices only. If you aren't a coffee drinking household, let me advise you to STILL get a dedicated spices only grinder and keep one for coffee grinding as well. They're inexpensive and great to have on hand for those last minute coffee drinking guests. Don't do to your poor mother(in-law) what we did! My poor mom came to visit and we didn't think to mention that since we aren't a coffee drinking household (but do have a maker for guests), we only use the coffee grinder in our pantry for grinding dried hot peppers (hubby's obsession). Poor Mom! She really got a spicy cup of coffee the first time she used the grinder! Since then we've purchased a second grinder for coffee only and keep the "spice grinder" in the spice cabinet so as not to confuse people!

Ok, now on to the photos...

Here's a picture of the prize winning pie along with my application and recipe card just before I took it to the fairgrounds for judging:

And another one with a better shot of the overall pie:

And here are the distinguished judges! Two of the county sheriffs and one of the ladies auxiliary members. Officer Serna (on the left) also had the fair court duchess and princess to help him judge :) I could tell the girls were just too upset to have to help with this one! :)

And here is a photo of the three winners along with the Kendall county fair court for 2009-2010. Yep, that's me on the far right...

And finally a picture of the duplicate pie along with the ribbon and trophy I won. I baked two and took the best looking of the two to be judged, so my poor family didn't miss out at all...they just had to eat the less-pretty pie...

Next year I'm going to skip the apple pie contest, but I'm sure going to enter at least one of the other categories! This was too fun! Hope you'll give the pie recipe a try and let me know what you think... Back to posting recipe trials from the cookbooks soon!

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