Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rustic Cast Iron Apple Pie

For the first 3 years of my life, we lived in a one room log cabin, that my Mom and Dad built. It was on 11 acres and just a path through our field led us to the river. My family was the first to ever live on that property and while they built that cabin, they lived in tents. I can still remember the way that cabin smelled. It was a smell of old wood, and wool. It was cozy, simple and flat out perfect.

The cabin didn't have running water or a refrigerator. When they bought a pint of ice cream, they'd eat the entire thing, because they didn't have a place to store the left overs. While living in what we called "the little cabin", my parents built a bigger log house and later, we traded candles for electricity, a pint of ice cream eaten, for only a scoop on Wednesday nights and a little wood burning cook stove, for a gas stove. When my sister and I were older, the Little Cabin became the most wonderful play house and a place to stay in and giggle late into the night when our friends stayed over.

Our cook stove, was similar to this one.....Basically you burn wood on the inside and then cook on the top.

This last weekend, we woke up to heavy rain. The day before, our kids had picked the last of our apples- don't be too impressed. We have a couple small trees that we bought for $13 last year from Costco. We're far from having an orchard, like my parents had when I was a kid.

As the rain beat down, I called my Mom and asked her about the apple pies that she and I used to bake on that cook stove in the Little Cabin. If you saw my post on Sunday about the weekend, you might remember this story.

She's told me the story of the apple pies in the Little Cabin many times. They were my Dad's favorite and we'd bake them together while he was at work. I had dreams of these big, rustic, deep dish apple pies, bubbling away on top of the wood stove. When she told me that she made the pie in a regular glass pie pan and then just baked it in the dutch oven (since we baked on top of a wood stove when I was growing up), my dreams of this gorgeous rustic apple pie flew out the window for a moment.

That was just a tiny hiccup though. I was determined that since it was raining, we'd crank up the George Winston "Autumn" album and we'd bake our apple pie in a cast iron skillet. While we may not have a wood burning stove, we can still go for cozy and that's what we did.

Jeremiah sat at the table with the big kids and let them help peel and chop the apples while I made the crust. Eliza sat in her chair and snacked on apples while we baked. It's funny, family baking isn't something I normally think of when I think about family time, but in the fall when it's cold outside, it just seems to fit.

The crust for our apple pie is made with whole wheat flour since I was out of white. The apple pie turned out amazing and if you have a big cast iron skillet, why not have a baking morning with your family? Make a pie while the rain pours and then eat it together after lunch. 

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Southern Living. If you have white flour, go ahead and use that for the crust, or if not, the whole wheat works fine, too.

Rustic Cast Iron Apple Pie

Double Pie Crust:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (white or whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons Crisco shortening
10 – 11 tablespoons ice cold water

Mix the flour and salt together. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening and butter until the size of small peas. Add the ice cold water all at once and blend with a fork. Do not overwork the dough but mix until it forms a ball. Refrigerate the dough while preparing the apples.

Apple Filling:

8 (or so) apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 whole egg, beaten
1 teaspoon milk
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cinnamon and sugar. Toss apples with the cinnamon mixture and set aside. Melt butter in a 9 or 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved taking care not to burn or scorch the mixture. Remove from heat.

Divide the crust dough in half. Roll out one piece on a lightly floured surface until it is about the size of the bottom of the skillet. Place the pie crust over the brown sugar mixture. Carefully layer the apple mixture and any apple syrup in the bowl. Roll out the other half of the pie crust dough and fit it over the top of the apples. Beat the egg and milk together and brush it on top of the crust. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and cut 5 or 6 slits in the dough to vent the steam.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cover the pie with foil if it is starting to brown too quickly. The pie will be done when it is golden brown and bubbly. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Top with ice cream if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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