Today is a historic day in the United States. The whole world is watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama so why not mark the occasion with a special menu to celebrate? The official menu for the inauguration luncheon includes Seafood Stew, Duck Breast with Cherry Chutney, Herb Roasted Pheasant with Wild Rice Stuffing, Molasses Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Winter Vegetables and Cinnamon Apple Sponge Cake. You can get the recipes here: Recipes from the 2009 Inaugural Luncheon.
If you’d rather make something simpler but still quintessentially American, why not bake an apple pie? It’s easy to put together and is always a crowd pleaser (especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!). Apples are considered ‘in season’ right now because the autumn harvest can be stored through the winter. I used MacIntosh apples but you can use any kind of medium-tart apple including Cortlands, Gravensteins or even Granny Smiths. Nothing beats homemade pastry but in a pinch you can use pre-made frozen (uncooked) pie crust. Just be sure to thaw it well before assembling the pie.
All-American Apple Pie
Makes one 10″ double crust apple pie
Basic Double Crust Pastry
The secret to good pastry is to handle it as little as possible and keep ingredients cold. The measures for ice water are not exact – add what you need to get the dough to stick together without being too wet.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1/3 cup butter
- Approximately 16 to 18 Tablespoons of ice water – Prepare a bowl of ice water and use more or less as needed
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt. Stir together to combine.
- Cut shortening and butter into small pieces and add to dry mixture. Using a pastry cutter, cut into flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Spoon ice water into mix, adding it a little at a time. Stir pastry dough every few tablespoons and stop adding water once the pastry can form a ball.
- Cut ball of pastry in half. Sprinkle a clean countertop with about 1/8 cup flour and place half of the dough on the counter. Press on dough ball until it is a flattened disk. Sprinkle a spoonful of flour over pastry disk.
- Working from the centre of the pastry disk, moving outward toward the edges, roll out pastry until it is thin. It will be larger in diameter than you need but can be trimmed to fit.
- Carefully move the pastry to your pie plate (fold pastry circle in half and then in half again so it is folded into quarters). Press into pie plate. Repeat rolling process with top crust. If making pastry in advance, cover loosely with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Apple Pie Filling
Apples can vary in sweetness so the amount of sugar may need to be increased or decreased. Taste a piece of the apple mix before baking. If it seems a bit tart, add a little more sugar.
- 6 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (about 4 cups of apple chunks)
- Approximately 3 to 4 Tablespoons sugar + an additional 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- In a large bowl, combine apples, 3 to 4 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste), cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Using your hands, mix together until the apples are evenly coated.
- Sprinkle in flour and mix again until fruit is coated. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembling the Pie
- Pastry (see recipe above)
- Apple Filling (see recipe above)
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spoon apple mixture into unbaked bottom crust. Cut butter into small pieces and dot the top of the apple mix.
- Moisten edge of bottom crust with water and lay top crust over filling. With a sharp knife, trim any overhanging pastry. Crimp together the bottom and top crusts, making sure to seal it well.
- Sprinkle the top of the pie with 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut two or three slashes in the top of the pastry so steam can escape.
- Bake for about 1 hour or until the pastry is browned on top and the filling is bubbling.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream or a slice of cheddar cheese.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!