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Deep Dish Apple Pie for One

  I made a pie.  I made this pie as an ode to messy young love, long lonely days, and a potential cure for a plummet in appetite.

  I never delved much into the pie world, I've made a couple but they were way back when.  It's silly, because pie wins over cake for me almost every time.  We just tend to build it up into this unobtainable, scary thing that must have the perfect crust, cheese on top, the newest idea for a filling, and so on.  Oh, Ladycakes posted a refreshingly adorable, single-serving pie that wasn't obnoxious.  Simple all-butter pastry, keep everything well chilled and you're pretty much golden.

  So I took a day and I made it.  Because I have a lot of days lately, and a lot of thoughts.  Pie has been a challenge for me not because of some intricate technique I can't get down, but because it's full of memories.  Because when I look at pie I don't just see pie, I see a diner and laughing faces.  I hear a voice I've been semi-ignoring complimenting me on my choice of apple, in a very obvious effort to get me to make eye contact.  I see an evening that shouldn't have happened, with some friends and a boy that was only there by my grace.  A boy that loved pie but was never around long enough to try mine.  Grace, man, it got me nowhere good.

  Those memories have cloaked me for months, and for months I lived in denial of them.  Anything remotely to do with that graceless fellow followed me, and that shadow followed me all the way to Arizona.  It's there in the morning, the midday, the evening, and especially at night.  I never write about the shadow, I never document relationship experiences in this space.  I don't because it all just seems too personal, and honestly there's not usually much to tell ha.  But also because we accept new boyfriends/girlfriends and breakups at an alarmingly easy rate.  You put together a couple of young adults and you watch them go through the motions of what we call a dating relationship, and then we watch again as they break up and move on to the next.  I can't deal with the seeming lightheartedness of it, not when I know there's a much deeper level that's never addressed, that never fully heals.  It's sick, to be honest.  Hollywood makes it into a mockery, and we grow up wanting what we see on the screen.  But what we can't/don't see is all the feels behind it.  And they're not all nice, or easy to get over.

  And not only do we totally misconstrue the idea of a relationship, we encourage the process.  Being single is not an esteemed status, and anyone that is so is pitied.  Don't get me wrong, a relationship can be great and I totally encourage the togetherness of it, but I think it's so so important that you learn to be you before joining up with someone else.  I think you need to learn to be lonely, and to learn that it's not always lonely at all.  You need to figure out how you function and what you want before you try to figure out someone else.

  Young love doesn't consider this.  It goes for the deep dish pie, but it pays little heed to what it's filling it up with, until it pulls it from the oven only to watch it cool and deflate because it was all just hot air with a few granules of good intention.  Pie isn't easy, but it's not hard, either.  It just takes a little time and consideration.  It takes good fruit that you wash, peel, and chop.  It takes spices for flavor, sugar for sweetness, a pinch of salt for contrast, and cornstarch to bind it all together.  It takes precision and diligence to keep pie dough cold and not overworked, so the crust comes out flaky and tender.

  In other words, it's not unlike the effort required for a real relationship.  And sometimes that takes a few funky pies to figure out.

  I saw that we had all the sugar and spice needed, but were lacking the fundamentals.  You can't make a pie without flour (unless you're gluten-free, but whatever, you get my point), as bland and disgusting as flour can be on its own.

  That realization validates the decisions I made, but it doesn't make the dealing much easier unfortunately, that's just life and feelings.  But after making this, I feel better.  I turned and looked that shadow in the face and I plopped a pie down in front of it.  And this time, I looked deeper.  I saw the happy days, the quick glances, flirtatious smiles, nights by the lake with the stars, even having the same dreams.  But I also saw the hard days, curled up on the kitchen floor of an empty home, sleepless nights with an iPod blaring, the nightmares, how very quickly he always let go and moved on to the next one.

  So I recognize that shadow.  I admit that it still has a strong pull on me, but I also know that with the light filtering in it can't stick around for much longer.

  This has been a very deep dish post with an impromptu side of life.  Go make yourself a pie, you deserve it.

"The flower doesn't dream of the bee... it blossoms and the bee comes." 

--Mark Nepo

Deep Dish Apple Pie for One
Yield: one 4-inch pie

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice cold water

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 4-6 teaspoons granulated sugar (depending on your sweetness preference)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
  • One medium apple, peeled and chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice, optional
  • Milk or a beaten egg, for the top crust
  • More granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Lightly grease a 4-inch deep dish tart pan or ramekin, or a Le Creuset Mini Cocotte; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter, using a pastry cutter or two knives or quick fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger chunks.  Add two tablespoons of the ice water and mix until a smooth dough forms.  If the dough feels a little dry, add a bit more water.  Knead the dough just until it comes together in a disc then wrap with plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling, stir together the sugar (I did the full 6 teaspoons), cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add the apples and lemon juice; toss to coat and set aside.  Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour.  Roll the dough into a circle about 1/4″ thick.  Fit to prepared pan, making sure it’s pressed into the bottom and well against the edges.  Roll a rolling pin over the top of the pan and remove the excess dough.  Fill with apples.  Roll the remaining dough scraps to create your top crust and place on top of the apples, pinching to seal the crusts together.  Cut four slits on the top of your crust.  Place the completed pie in the freezer to rest for about 10 minutes. 

Brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes (If you notice the crust starting to brown too much, put a piece of tin foil over it after about 25 minutes, although I didn't have an issue). Let cool for 10 minutes then serve. Can be refrigerated in an air tight container for up to two days.

If you’d prefer to assemble the pie and save it for later, remove the pie from the freezer when ready to bake and let it thaw for about 20 minutes.  Follow baking instructions above.  Unbaked pie will keep frozen for up to 6 weeks in an air tight, freezer proof container.

Sources: adapted from Oh, Ladycakes