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Celebrate National Pie Day with an American Classic: Apple Pie

Did you know that today is National Pie Day [1]?  Seriously.  The National Pie Council [2] has declared it so, and that’s good enough for me.  So, what exactly is National Pie Day?  Well, according to the NPC, its a day “dedicated to the celebration of pie”, and they hope that we all take this opportunity to “pass on the enjoyment of pie making and and pie eating to future generations”.

So, how can you celebrate National Pie Day?  Well for starters, you can eat some pie.  And, if you really want to celebrate, you can eat a whole lot of pie.  Who am I to quash your enthusiasm?  I mean, if you’re going to celebrate, you might as well go all out, right?  And, while you’re eating all of that pie, you might want to share some pie with someone else.  That’s right, people.  Share the pie love!

Of course, you can buy your pie at an area bakery or supermarket.  That would work.  Or, you could get totally crazy and make your own.  That would be even better.  And, before some of you throw up your hands and tell yourselves that you can’t do it, let me tell you that you can.  Making pie isn’t difficult at all.  In fact, it’s pretty easy and can be kind of fun.  I promise. 

Now, I know that the one thing about pie making that really tends to stress people out is the crust.  Relax!  Pie crust can sometimes be a little temperamental, but once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t that difficult.  Remember, I used to be a doughaphobe, myself.   Besides, you don’t actually have to make your own pie crust, if you don’t want to.  You can buy some pretty decent pre-made crusts in the refrigerator section of your grocery store.   No one has to know unless you tell them.   However, if you are a brave soul and would like to tackle your own pie crust, Deb at Smitten Kitchen [3] has the best [4] “How To” [5] posts [6] on the subject that I’ve found.  In fact, her All Butter Really Flaky Pie Dough [5] recipe is probably the one I use most.

There’s nothing like a home-baked pie, hot and fresh out of the oven.  It can do wonders for your psyche.  It can soothe your soul. A really, really, really good pie might even be able to mend a broken heart.  Humans have been enjoying the splendor of pie in one form or another since the time of the ancient Egyptians. It’s a proven commodity.  And, no pie is more quintessentially American than good, old apple pie.  Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest kinds to make.

When I make an apple pie, I like to use a mixture of different kinds of apples.  Some are very sweet and others have a tart bite to them.  Using a variety gives the pie a nice sweet/tart balance of flavor. Just look for apples that are labeled as good for baking.   If I have it, I also mix a few spoonfuls of apple butter or applesauce in with my apples to give the filling a little more body.  This certainly isn’t necessary, but I just think it makes the pie more “apple-y”.  Another thing I’m fond of doing is adding a few splashes of brandy or rum to the apples.  Again, this isn’t necessary, but it does add a little “something” to the finished product.  The alcohol burns off while the pie is baking, so you don’t have to hide it from the kids.

As far as pie crusts go, there is, and probably always will be a debate on whether butter or shortening is the way to go.  I’m a butter girl, myself.  While shortening supposedly makes a flakier crust, butter is where the flavor is.  What good is the flakiest pie crust in the world, if it doesn’t taste good?  Besides, I’ve made many a delicious and flaky pie crust with butter.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, here is my gift to you for National Pie Day: a recipe for a classic homemade apple pie.  I’d like to say that it’s an old family recipe, handed down for generations, but I can’t.  My mother never baked pies.  And, I don’t ever remember a pie coming out of my grandma’s oven either.  Italian’s just aren’t big pie bakers.  I found this one all my own.  It’s simple and basic.  And basically, it’s simply delicious.

Happy Pie Day!