Preschool apple-picking circa 1995Alex has always found great delight in the story of Johnny Appleseed. As the Vermont nights turn cooler, and apples begin appearing at road side stands and the Brattleboro Farmer’s Market, it triggers Alex’s preschool memories of apple-picking for the Annual Cider Sale. First he tells and retells to almost anyone who will listen, the story of Johnny Appleseed. Then, I know what is coming next, “Mom, can we bake an apple pie?”
Two years ago, Alex had accumulated a little money from birthdays, recycling cans, and doing household chores. One day, when discussing what he might want to buy with his money, I suggested that maybe he would like to buy an apple tree. He jumped right on that one, and pretty soon, we had two fledgling apple trees (a Paula Red and an Empire for pollination reasons.) We planted them side by side in the backyard, not far from the garden. The first year, the Empire tree had barely any blossoms and zero apples. The Paula Red was a bit more successful. It blossomed out, bees pollinated it, and while a dozen or so nascent apples began to form, only three made it to adulthood. Alex would go out and delight at the sight of the growing and reddening apples on his tree. Actually, the apples almost made it to adulthood because, although we enclosed the tree in the electric fence, it was a tad too close to the edge. We neglected to take into account that deer necks can extend a long ways, and that people sometimes forget to turn back on the electric fence. Not only did Bambi pluck the forbidden apples, but he or she ate half of the upper tree, trunk, branches, leaves and all.
Our entire 2010 crop!This past year, we moved the electric fence back (and lowered Alex’s expectations) given that we now had an amputee tree. Both trees blossomed out, and again, the Empire’s apples fizzled. But the Paula Red formed four promising apples. Alex was delighted and announced that we were going to make those apples into a pie. One day while checking the progress of his apples, he reached up to look closer at an apple. Plop, it detached and fell to the ground. With it went 25% of our apple crop. I’m happy to say that the remaining three apples made it to picking time, and guess what was on the Alex’s docket today? Making an apple pie.
Peeling with precisionIt turns out that making the apple pie is only the side show to using that “clever device” (in Alex words) the apple peeler. My brother Geoff gave it to us for Christmas just after we moved to Vermont, and Alex considers it among the family’s crown jewels. Three apples didn’t quite make a pie, so we added to it a few wild apples we picked on the side of the road and a few from an orchard. The pie has just come out of the oven, and I wish there were a scent-equivalent of a web-cam. It smells just like Fall in here. Thanks, Alex.
Gluten Free Apple Pie
2 Never-Fail GF Pie Crusts http://tinyurl.com/2ffxcyy
About 8-9 medium size crisp apples
2 Tbsp sugar+ sugar to sprinkle on baked crust
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp GF flour
1Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp milk (optional, to brush on crust)
1. Preheat Oven to 450 degrees.
2. Peel, core, and slice apples, and then toss with sugar, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar.
3. Prepare and roll out two gluten free pie crusts.
4. Peel the top layer of plastic wrap off the rolled-out GF pie crusts.
5. Line pie plate with GF crust, peeling off the plastic wrap. Trim the shell edges.
6. Fill pie shell with apples, and moisten the rim with water (this makes the upper crust bond with the lower crust.)
7. Drape second CF crust over top, peeling off the plastic wrap. Flute edges by hand, trim excess, and cut vents in the top. (Alex is always partial to an “A” because it not only signifies “apple” but “Alex.”)
8. Bake pie on medium rack for 10 minutes.
9. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake approximately 1 hour. Brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with sugar midway through bake time.