We’re having such a lovely March break. The weather has been amazing, allowing us to get outside to the park, to the Agriculture Museum, and to the nearby woods to feed the birds. We sleep late, toddle around in PJs for half the day, then snack in the backyard. It’s been awesome, and now I really can’t wait for summer.
Also, my very dear friend Sheila came up to visit for two days — I’ve known her since high school, which is mind boggling. We had a great time together but the best thing of all is that she brought us a gift — a Wii Fit! I really tried hard to be all, “Oh, you shouldn’t have” about it all, but really I was way too excited to fake it. Sir Monkeypants’ face, when he got home to see it, was priceless, a beautiful combo of joy and shock.
I think it’s safe to say that we owe Sheila big time.
I am totally rocking the Wii Fit Yoga. The whole goal is to sit as still as possible for as long as possible. I easily win the goal medal in this event every time. If you put the TV remote in one hand, and a milkshake with a really long straw in the other, I might never have to move again. And the whole time I’d be “working out”! Nintendo is so awesome.
Extra bonus: all those calories I am burning doing Wii Fit Yoga earn me extra pie. Yay, pie!
This week’s pie is an apple based pie called Cream and Crumb Schnitz, courtesy of Edna Staebler’s fantastic book, Pies and Tarts with Schmecks Appeal. “Schnitz” is a Mennonite term that means “cut apples,” and for this kind of pie I believe you are supposed to cut the apples in a certain fancy way and lay them out in a flower-shaped pattern in the pie crust, but I think we can all admit that that just isn’t going to happen for me. Luckily, pie still tastes good even when it isn’t too pretty.
So, we start by making a pie crust and this week’s went terribly. I accidentally dropped the shortening when taking it out of the fridge and it went smush and got all weirdly shaped, so when I tried to cut off a slice that was 1/3 of a cup I think I ended up with too much, and the pastry was all strangely soft and clung together without me even adding any water, so that did not bode well.
However, I was making this pie while “supervising” six children (we had some friends over for playdates) so yeah, I wasn’t in the mood for a second pass. It’ll do, pie, it’ll do.
Once your crust is ready to go, you mix up 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 3 tablespoons of softened butter with a pastry cutter to make crumbs. Then take half the crumbs you’ve made and sprinkle them in your (crappy) pie crust:
Then you peel and cut up the apples and lay them on top of the crumbs — anywhere from 4 to 7 apples as required to fill the pie plate. I used five, but in the end the pie is a little shallow so I think I should have used six.
Then, you mix half the remaining brown sugar crumbs (1/4 of the original amount) with 2/3 cup sour cream, and spread it over the top.
This step was a little iffy for me. First of all, the recipe said you could use “sour or sweet” cream, and that was confusing, becuase aren’t they very different in terms of consistency? So then I thought, maybe you’re supposed to whip the sweet cream first, so it’s stiff like sour cream. But then the recipe says to “pour over apples” and sour cream isn’t really pour-able, which is weird. So then I thought, maybe they mean more like buttermilk than real sour cream, so it’s runny.
And in the end, after much dithering and hand-wringing, I said, SCREW IT, used some sour cream I had in the fridge, and spread it over the top with the back of a spoon. Because I’m a natural born baker and I follow my gut!
Okay, then you take the remaining crumbs (1/4 the original amount) and mix it with 3/4 tsp, more or less, of cinnamon. Then sprinkle this mix over the top of everything like so:
And then you bake it at 420 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350 and bake for 30 minutes more:
This pie was for Sir Monkeypants’ poker night, which meant I only got one piece for myself. And that was a good thing, because OH MY, so yummy. It’s apple pie, but with just a hint of extra creaminess and sweetness. It would take a LOT of yoga to work off this baby if it were staying in the house.
I am starting to really regret the fact that Edna Staebler died a couple of years ago, because if I had the chance I would totally write her a fan letter and let her know how her pies are changing my life. She is amazing. I now have all her other cookbooks on my wish list.
Maybe I will sneak another little sliver before I let the poker boys have at it.