Easy as Pie (Some Make it Look That Way)

This post is dedicated to all mums and dads who juggle careers and classes and unpaid work and family life, often with difficulty, but always with passion.

Two years ago, we uprooted our kids from their home/school/neighborhood/country as they knew it at the time and, with just days before the start of a new school year, landed in New Jersey, completely friendless and brand new.

On our first morning at the bus stop, I spied a friendly lady with her kids, who dashed over the street with a big grin and asked, “Are you a bus stop mom?” It so happened I was. We were immediately invited to her ‘bus stop party’ that Friday and, just like that, the kids and I had friends and were no longer new.

Since that day, Mary Beth has never ceased to amaze me. As her part-time job expanded into a full-time role, she juggles her roles as mom, uber helpful neighbor and friend, and city working gal, with finesse. Whatever hurdles are thrown her way, she still makes the time for being social and hospitable 😉

On top of it all, she created this beautiful pie for a contest at work, and won!

I simply have to document it here. Modest as MB is, I know this was no mean feat.

There were 21 pies entered in this contest – 21! – and 5 judges painstakingly pored over their crusts and fillings.

Of course, she was happy to share the credit for this beautiful work of art, saying in an email, “It takes a village:  with lots of thanks for recipe tips, shopping support and really timely advice to pull the crust from the oven ’cause I put the rice in without parchment – here is my contender! I almost set the fire alarm off and I have no idea how it tastes, but she’s a better looker than I coulda hoped for!”

But I know, and you know, that few people would have taken on this challenge in the midst of a million others, including a full-time job. The fact that the final product would have needed to traverse state lines alone would have deterred me 😉

Anyway, Mary Beth happily shared that recipe and its origins (see below).

I’d like to dedicate this beautiful work of art of Mary Beth’s to all my friends who juggle work, paid and unpaid, and classes, and kids, and chores and a myriad other tasks, who – at the start of many of these projects wonder how they will manage, yet, by the end, they have done better than most – and make it all look easy as pie!

Classic All-Butter Short Crust

  1. Combine flour and sugar.
  2. Cut butter into pieces.
  3. With a pastry cutter, and by hand, work all ingredients together.
  4. Combine yolk and cold water.
  5. Drizzle into mixture and form the dough into 2 sections.
  6. Press one section into the bottom of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.
  7. Roll remaining dough to 1/8 inch thick.
  8. Using a small apple-shaped cookie-cutter, cut out about 70 apples, rerolling scraps if necessary.
  • 4 pounds GOLDEN DELICIOUS apples
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Core, peel and slice the apples.
  2. Combine lemon zest and juice, sugars, flour, salt,
  3. cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  4. Toss together with the apples.
  5. Place filling in piecrust, mounding it in the center. Dot with butter.
  6. To make egg wash, whisk together egg yolk and cream in a small bowl.
  7. Lightly brush edge of piecrust with egg wash.
  8. Arrange dough apples over filling, working in a spiral from the outside in to the center,
  9. overlapping them slightly.
  10. Lightly brush top of each round with egg wash as you work to
  11. help them adhere to one another.
  12. Once the filling has been covered with rounds, lightly
  13. brush entire top of pie with egg wash. Sprinkle top with sanding sugar.
  14. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in middle and lower positions.
  15. Place pie on middle rack, and bake until crust begins to turn golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  16. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, and bake until crust is golden brown and
  17. juices are bubbling, about 1 hour, 10 minutes more. Tent with foil if crust browns too
  18. quickly. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
*Crust recipe: Elizabeth Ryan, Breezy Hill Orchards in Duchess County
* Filling recipe and crust design: Martha Stewart
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October 27, 2010. Tags: , , . American, Baked Goods, Musings, Stories.

8 Comments

  1. dionneford replied:

    it looks too good to eat. Congrats to MB!

    • divaindoors replied:

      Doesn’t it just? Shame it was all finished before I could go round and have a taste 😉

  2. Rachael Quinn-Egan replied:

    The tiny apple shapes are fabulous. Hmmm, stars for July 4th? The possibilities are endless… nice piece B!

    • divaindoors replied:

      I love that apple-shapes touch too! Baked a pie recently though and lost patience with the cookie cutter, so I found that just a normal pie crust, with a few cut-out stars, looked pretty neat too 😉

  3. Janet replied:

    Sorry, but no. It’s beautiful, but I have not got the patience to cut out 70 mini apples for the top of a pie crust. I’ll vote for a plain and open-topped tarte au pommes. Add some almond paste to a custard base, layer sliced (Ontario) apples on top of that, and use melted down (home-made) jelly as a glaze. I made it this weekend and it was surprisingly awesome.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Sounds scrummy too! But I didn’t expect to see the word ‘awesome’ coming from you Janet 😉

  4. Gudrun Lake replied:

    Wow, looks wonderful. I’ve got so much respect for people who make pastry!
    Congratulations Bernadette on your two year US anniversary.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Thanks Gudrun, and to you too. Two years have vanished in the blink of an eye but I feel lucky to have landed where we did 🙂

      Respect to the pastry makers!

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