“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.” Proverbs 12:14
It’s peak apple season again, a time of year that speaks volumes to my inner child. Why? Probably because apples remind me of my childhood family. We had a beautiful apple tree behind our house that produced a fragrant and beautiful display of blossoms in the spring that transformed into bushels of tart green apples by September – perfect for baking.
On Saturday afternoons during September, Dad, Mom, my brother, and I would take on the task of turning those little darlings into one of my favorite desserts: apple slices. It was a team effort, each of us actively participating to complete the task. My parents used the time to encourage me and my brother, to teach us new skills, and to demonstrate a spirit of love by their words and action. Our mutual reward was a tasty treat that we eagerly shared.
I first wrote about this little family ritual a while back in a memoir titled, “Cicero Cooks,” hoping my nieces and nephews would take up the tradition with their families. This year, I plan to make apple slices again. It is no surprise that my husband is already embracing the autumn season. We are planning to pass this tradition to our grandson.
“Family Affair” Apple Slices
Pie Crust (I make two separate crusts, each using the following amounts. To make both top and bottom crusts at one time, double the recipe.)
2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
7 – 8 tablespoons of ice water
16 cups thinly sliced, peeled and pared tart apples
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Dash of salt
6 tablespoons butter
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Measure the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut shortening into mixture until it has a crumbly texture. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time until all flour is moist and forms a soft ball. Hint: use a food processor to make the crust easy as pie (pun intended). Just pulse the flour, salt, and shortening together until crumbly. Then add the water slowly until the dough pulls away from the sides. Do not overwork the dough.
Flour a flat work surface and roll the dough in a rectangle large enough to fit a jelly roll baking sheet. That’s the kind that has 1-inch sides all around. Carefully place the dough in the bottom of the pan and up the sides. If the dough tears apart while you’re doing this, just pinch together any holes that form. Nobody will see this anyway.
Mix all filling ingredients, except butter, together in a large bowl until all apples are coated. Spread apple filling over bottom crust and dot with chunks of butter over the entire surface. Roll out the top crust and cover entire surface. Cut slits or small holes in the crust to make a nice design. If the top crust gets holes that you didn’t intend, get creative and make an avant-garde design. Trust me, nobody will care. Pinch the top and bottom edges together to seal and pop it in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the filling begins to bubble and the crust turns a pretty, light shade of brown.
In a small bowl, mix 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and a dash of salt and just enough milk to make it runny (about 3 tablespoons). Drizzle the icing over the entire surface of the apple slices; this will fix any unfortunate design details in the crust. Slice it and serve. This non-diet dish tastes best when shared with friends and family.