Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Those Pioneers Loved Dessert.

During the 1800s, traveling out West entailed hardships, dangers, lack of supplies, and often injury and/or death. Nowadays our spoiled generations have no clue what it means to truly “put your back into it”; as the pioneers had to do with their covered wagons and horses to get them through the rough terrain.

When it came time for celebrations, like a wedding, the entire small community came together; foods from various ethnic backgrounds were created by family, friends and neighbors; no one was left out. Whatever provisions were available were used for the feast; everyone was going to eat well that day! A wedding, a celebration of everlasting love and life together; even the most precious of items were donated to the preparations, like sugar.

One dessert often seen was Swiss Apple Pie and there is only one way I can describe it: Crumble plus Custard plus Crème Brulee equals Swiss Apple Pie. A combination of three different pie making techniques totaling up to one rich, sugary, eyes rolling to the heavens, pie. As usual, I made two pies, one for my husband and one for my ever faithful “guinea pigs”; folks who will try my creations and give honest opinions. Comments were “wow”, “this is very good”, some lip smacking, a request for another slice, but my true test was Cindi Holyoak at the City Office. Cindi had experienced Swiss Apple Pie before, so I had an expert on my hands and I was tense with anticipation of her critique. At the first bite, her eyes and face lit up; at the second bite she confirmed that “Yes, this was the pie she knew, and it was very good!” Yes, I had passed the ultimate test and did the happy dance (at home of course, not in public).

Once again, I have used a recipe out of “The Mormon Pioneer Cookbook” by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Note: this recipe calls for a ten inch pie pan; if you do not have that size pan (nine inch seeming to be the standard), decrease the heavy cream by one quarter cup and eggs (not the yolks) by one. With the apples, until ready to use them, place in cold water which has a tablespoon of lemon juice included; it will keep the slices from browning, but not add a lemony taste to them. Oh, I lined my baking rack with aluminum foil under the pie pans; spillage of the custard mixture is simply a given; and who wants to clean the oven, not I!

Swiss Apple Pie (page 102)
¼ cup butter
1 and ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
4 tart apples, pared, cored and thinly sliced (I used Granny Smith apples)
2 eggs (large)
2 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar (divided into ½ cup plus ¼ cup)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender. Gradually add cold water, mixing with a fork, until pastry gathers around fork. Roll out 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured board or pastry cloth. Use to line a deep 10-inch pie plate, trim edge. (I used store bought, ready-made, deep dish pie crusts; it might be cheating, but it’s still homemade.)
Sprinkle bread crumbs over bottom. Layer apple slices evenly in pastry; do not heap. Bake in a 350F oven 5 minutes.

Combine eggs and yolks; beat slightly. Add cream and ½ cup of the sugar; stir until sugar dissolves.  Pour ½ the mixture over apples. Bake in a 350F oven 30 minutes.


Pour in remaining mixture. Return to oven and bake 30 minutes longer (my pies took 40 minutes) or until knife inserted near edge comes out clean. Pour the melted butter over the top (that’s over the filling, not crust) and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup sugar.

Return to oven and bake 5 minutes longer or until top is golden (mine took 10 minutes.) Let pie cool slightly before cutting.
Yield: 1 pie.

Mary Cokenour

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