I was very worried I had overextended myself. As I wandered through the maze of Mercado Central I was fairly convinced I had bitten off more than I could chew. But I missed home, and I wanted something familiar. So I baked an apple pie. My mom bakes a killer apple pie, and it is by far my favorite desert. I grew up helping her peel apples and mix spices, so this reminds me of home. And, because this century is all about oversharing on social media, I took picture to share with you! Perhaps it will guide someone else in making their desert, even in a hostel with a bad oven.
- 2 cups/457 grams of flour
- 1 cup/228 grams of shortening
- 1/3 cup/ 78 mL of water
- 1/2 teaspoon/ 2 1/2 grams of salt
- 4 teaspoons/20 grams of cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons/10 grams of nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons/10 grams of cloves
- 2/3 cup/ 150 grams of flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups (343 to 457 grams) of granulated sugar
- 7 to 8 granny smith (green) apples
Cooking: Everything depends on altitude, heat of oven, and other factors. However, aim for 350 F for an hour (180 C for an hour). Less heat obviously takes more time. Time amount also depends on how high you are. Anything above 6,500 feet (1982 meters) is considered high. You can see this is more art than science. Note: If you are making this in a hostel (like I did) expect variation in measurements, spices used, and time of baking. It took me several trips to the market to find the spices I needed. In the States I use store bought apple pie spice. Here I had to make my own. There are a variety of recipes, which was good, because I did not find everything I needed. Any mixture of cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves will work, as long as it is 2 parts cinnamon to 1 part of each of the other spices. I could not find allspice or cadamom, so I settled with ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and a whole nutmeg. I ground the nutmeg on a fine cheese grater, and it worked. The wheat flour I bought still had some of the husks in it, so Jordan (who helped me because he is very nice) used a small sieve. We guessed on how large a cup was. For the average-sized person, a cup is roughly the size of your fist. We filled an average coffee mug two-thirds full and called it a cup. We did the same with the shortening (which I bought for 10 bolivianos and is called manteca in Spanish. Only took me three conversations and two hours to find that out.) Pour the water into the bowl with the flour and shortening, and mix together. The colder it is, the better it will mix, so use knives and spoons to cut and smoosh. When it looks like dough, dump half of it onto a counter (with flour to keep it from sticking to the counter) and knead. We did not have a rolling pin, so I used a vodka bottle instead. It worked okay. We also did not have a pie plate, so we used a medium/large skillet. I have an average woman‘s hands, and if I spread my hand over the skillet I could not touch the edges. So it was around nine or ten inches in diameter. When the dough is circular, place into the skillet. For the filling, grind/grate what you need and if you don‘t have measuring cups (we didn’t) use your hand as a guide. Here is a nifty little website I found after the fact. I definitely just poured things in my palm and eyeballed it as it went into the mixing bowl. I have also made apple pie for years, so I knew roughly how filled the bowl should be when the whole filling was mixed together. One teaspon is an average person’s thumb to the first knuckle. Because I couldn’t rely on accurate measurements, I tried to stick to the part rule: two parts cinnamon, one part cloves, one part nutmeg. Then flour and sugar into the same bowl. It’s roughly two parts sugar, one part flour (or more sugar, if you like lots of it). Peel, core, cut all the apples. Slice until they are pretty thin. Layer the apples into the skillet/pie pan (the lower crust is already placed in the skillet at this point). When you cannot see the crust below the apples, sprinkle with the spice mixture. Layer again with apple slices and spices until all apples are used. Pour any remaining spice/sugar mixture on top. Roll out the other half of the dough to make the upper pie crust. Place over the apples and pinch the edges together. Use a knife to cut breathing holes. My mom always does a leaf design. This time I made a “B” for Bolivia. Put in the preheated oven. As you can tell from the photo, our oven was very old and very small. Jordan had to light the gas with a match. If the pie is very full, as it cooks juices might leak. This dirties your oven and makes a terrible smell. If the oven has an exposed flame, like ours, it could also be dangerous. So place foil or some pan to catch any drips underneath the skillet. Pie typically cooks at 350 F or 180 C, but this oven didn‘t get that hot. So we turned it up as high as we could, to 290 C and just checked on the pie every ten minutes. After an hour and fifteen minutes (due to altitude and low heat) it was done! And it tasted pretty good! You have no idea how relieved I was.