Archive for October, 2012

We love Lisa Wheeler’s children’s books, and Ugly Pie has been one of our long time favorites.

Ol’ Bear has a hankerin’ for pie. Not just any pie…ugly pie. He wanders around visiting friends, each of whom has a taste-bud tempting pie, but he’s just itchin’, truly whishin’ for some ugly pie. Each of his neighbors does give him something ugly from their kitchen: “Ugly apples, raisins, too, sweet molasses, nuts–WAHOO!” which he takes home and commences to mix together to make his own ugly pie.

Our version of Ugly Pie

Well, the book has a recipe for ugly pie at the end, and-as you might expect-the kids have been pestering me for years to make it. So here is the finished ugly product!

As you can tell the ugliest thing is my pie crust. There are really only two kitchen projects that really intimidate me: pizza crust and pie crust. Just can’t seem to make either of them well.

One of the coolest things about this pie, though, is that it is the first pie I have had the chance to make using one of my mom’s pie dish. I had a chance to snag it this summer on a trip back to Toledo. It has a special place in my heart. (Now if I can just figure out how to weasel her doughnut cutter from my brother.)

If this has you itchin’ for some Ugly Pie, today is your lucky day! Here’s Ol’ Bear’s recipe, handed down from bear to bear for generations.

Ugly Crust:
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1 cup shortening (we used butter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 to 8 tablespoons icy cold water

Ugly Filling
6 cups peeled, sliced Granny Smith apples (we used apples given to us by a family from their apple tree)
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large bowl, toss apple slices with lemon juice. Then mix in molasses until apples are completely coated with ugly brown goo. Set aside.
5 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients listed above. Add to the ugly apple mixture until everything is nice ‘n’ moist.
3/4 cup red raisins or cran-raisins
1/4 walnuts chopped fine (we left out the nuts)

Toss raisins and walnuts into apple mixture. Make sure all ingredients are well coated. Place into pie crust. Your pie should look fairly ugly by now.
Top with second pie crust and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Cover pie with an aluminum-foil tent to prevent over browning. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.
When your pie is done, you will have the most delicious, most beautiful UGLY PIE you ever did see!

And here are the variations I employed:

  • I used America’s Test Kitchen butter crust, since I don’t have a ready supply of lard, and shortening makes a pretty tasteless crust. (This crust was the best attempt I have ever made, at least it was the easiest to roll out and it didn’t tear too much. We’ll see how it tastes. I have been really, really tempted to try ATK’s trick of using vodka r/th ice water in crust. The alcohol cooks out but it allows you to use more liquid than just water and the crust is easier to roll out. However, due mostly to my upbringing in a fundamental church, I am a teetotaler. While I cook with wine, I don’t drink any alcohol. I can explain to family that visits the cooking wine and beer for beer-battered fish, onion rings, etc. It might be a bit harder to ‘splain the vodka in the pantry! Ah the angst of ‘growing up fundamentalist; I’m scarred, scarred I tell ya!)
  • I also used a combination of Yellow Delicious and Granny Smith apples and baked them to just tender to keep their moisture down so the pie doesn’t get soupy. After baking them with some sugar and cinnamon, I mixed them into the other ugly stuff and cooked it a bit longer to let the four thicken some of the molasses and brown sugar goo.
  • And finally, I used a crumble topping that ATK sent out in one of their email blasts. Halving this recipe worked great for the 9″ pie.
  • Topping
    • 3/4cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 3/4cup pecans, chopped fine
    • 3/4cup old-fashioned rolled oats (see note)
    • 1/2cup (3 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
    • 1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2teaspoon table salt
    • 8 Tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

btw, almost all of Lisa Wheeler’s books are rollicking good fun to read. I want our kids to love language, and her books contribute to that with great rhymes, stories, and rhythmic lines.


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