Is there anything more welcoming and enticing than the scent of fresh baked pie in your kitchen? I think not.
I do love me some apple pie. But baking a pie from scratch seems a bit daunting, doesn’t it? The domain of domestic goddesses extraordinaire, in whose league I do not belong, as much as I enjoy dabbling in the culinary arts. In an earlier time, my grandparents’ generation, many women baked pies every week. In fact, my dad tells the story of his mom setting her hot-from-the-oven Saturday pie on the open window sill to cool, and a sticky-fingered thief walked right off with it. Scandalized the entire neighborhood. Well, I’ve discovered a little trick that makes apple pie so simple, it is downright scandalous. 🙂
You simply prepare the apple filling in advance and freeze it in Ziploc bags. Then when it’s pie time, pull a bag from your freezer, place it in your pie crust and bake. So easy! By preparing several batches of filling simultaneously, the workload per pie is a fraction of what it would be using a traditional pie recipe. And it’s laughably easy to go from frozen filling to warm, delectable dessert on your table. (If you want another shortcut, use the store-bought pie crust dough. I won’t tell if you don’t. 😉 ) And the flavor, texture and aroma are everything you’d hope for. Using this method, I was able to serve homemade pie on Thanksgiving, just a few weeks after William was born, when I was still in the newborn-phase-fog and could hardly make toast.
You could whip up a 3-pie recipe for the freezer in about an hour. But if you find a good deal on apples and want to really stockpile, give yourself all afternoon and invite a friend to join you. Big jobs in the kitchen are so much more fun if you make a party of it!
Last week my friend Lisa and I had an apple party. I had ordered 40 pounds of organic juicing apples from our food co-op, Azure Standard, for just 50 cents/pound. So we rolled up our sleeves, turned up the music, and stocked up on pie filling and apple sauce. Since we both have babies (her Luke was born 3 weeks before my William), it was a bit of a juggling act. But the boys were good and spent most of the time sleeping and entertaining one another nearby.
Here are a few photos from our time, and I’ve included the recipe for frozen (or canned) apple pie filling from the Ball’s Blue Book of Canning at the bottom of this post.
And it really is that easy. When friends invited us for Saturday supper last weekend, I volunteered to bring dessert, knowing it would be a piece of cake to whip up, err…excuse me, easy as pie.
APPLE PIE FILLING RECIPE
from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving
Yield: about 6 pints (3 pies)
6 pounds apples 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup flour 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Wash, peel, core and slice apples. Treat to prevent darkening [I skip this step]. Combine sugar, flour and spices. Rinse and drain apples [I skip this, to]; stir into sugar mixture. Let stand until juices begin to flow, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Ladle pie filling into can-or-freeze jars or plastic freezer boxes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. [I allow to cool and then ladle into large Ziploc freezer bags] Cool at room temperature, not to exceed 2 hours. Seal, label and freeze.