Mmm, now here's an experiment with instant gratification!! Using the recipe in the Little House Cookbook, we made the Dried Apple Raisin Pie (pg 130) to go along with the 'Sugaring Dance' in Little House in the Big Woods. I really learned alot from this experiment-namely how to make a good pie crust! I've heard chef's on TV talk about being sure your pastry is cold, but according to the book, pioneer women truly relied on that throughout the whole process of making the pastry. "If it ain't cold, it ain't pastry" is a saying that used to float around back then. They didn't just chill the dough before rolling it out. They chilled the ingredients (possibly in crocks in a stream) and the mixing bowl, too. Then after making your dough patties, you chill them for at least 15 minutes before rolling out. This is the first time my crust came out beautifully! I had tried many recipes; with eggs and without, with vinegar and without, but it seems that the type of ingredients aren't as important as the temperature of them! I was even able to use my wooden rolling pin and roll the dough around it to transfer to the pie pan without fail. Hooray-Victory!
Okay, now back to the apple-raisin part of this. I purchased our dried apple rings in the bulk section of the grocery store. You need about 3 cups for this recipe, so you really want to purchase them this way if possible. If I had bought them in those cute little packages over in the canned fruit aisle, it would have cost me $12 to make this pie whereas I paid less than $2! The cookbook says to soak them overnight to rehydrate, or "about 1/2 hour in freshly boiled water". I did the latter, and they puffed up just fine.
After reconstituing, I drained out all but about 2 cups of the water. We simmered for about 20 minutes as instructed to soften our little rings. While this was going, I rolled out my bottom crust. Then we transferred the apples to the bowl and mixed with the raisins, flour, and sugar. Note: The book did not say how much sugar! So, I got out my regular tried-and-true apple pie recipe. It called for 1 cup. Knowing that the raisins were already going to make this pie pretty sweet, I lowered it to 3/4c. In hindsight, I probably would have went with 1/2 cup.
We topped the pie, crimped it, and baked as the recipe states. When it came out of the oven, I brushed it with light corn syrup for a shiny finish. It's an old trick I learned when I worked at a bakery. I don't know that Ma Ingalls would have done that, but I couldn't help myself. It makes it so much prettier.
The final result: It was pretty yummy! My husband and I aren't real fans of raisins anyway, so we didn't especially love that part, but overall the pie was good, and I would totally opt to make a dried apple pie in the future if fresh aren't to be found, or are out of season. It was the first time I'd worked with reconstituted produce, and I must say it was an easy, positive experience!
Conclusion: Success a la Mode! Yum!
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