“It’s Rich! It’s Golden Yellow! And my, what a pie it makes!”
Fluffo. This magical baking relic of the past that my Millenial mouth has never tasted. But, even though I never personally experienced the magic of Fluffo, you can bet I have heard, on more than one occasion, what a tragedy the loss of its golden fatty goodness was for my family recipes. Especially Mom’s pie crust. I can see Mom now, in our old kitchen, stirring some pot and shaking her head as she lamented to the air. “Why do they always get rid of the things I like? And no, Yellow Crisco is NOT the same as Fluffo!”
I don’t know if it’s true. If Yellow Crisco really isn’t the same as Fluffo. But I know that my mom spent a lot of time (and many pie crusts) perfecting a replacement. She reminds me of that replacement (and the loss of Fluffo) every time I bring up her pie crust recipe. And whether or not her mad scientist combination of fats is the magic key to unlock the flakiest, crumbliest, pastriest pie crust I’ll ever know doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to tempt fate or test the theory. Not until they discontinue the next thing. Then I guess it will be my turn to fix the formula.
As it stands now, Mom’s official replacement for Fluffo is nearly equal parts of Unsalted Butter, Lard, and Crisco. And I promise it’s worth it. I have never had a pie crust quite like this one anywhere else. A lot of pie crusts come close, but there is something about this one. It melts in your mouth. It is solid, crumbly, buttery, and crispy. It is perfection.
And, yes, to answer the question you might be asking, traditional pastry rules call for only butter. And those crusts are delightful and delicious. But Mom’s apple pie tastes like it was made in the time of Fluffo. It tastes like time has no meaning. It tastes like the best dang apple pie you could ask for on an easy night. Your family munching on the leftover pie dough strips covered in cinnamon and sugar, as the pie cools. Jude’s pie crust tastes like a big ol’ “Welcome Home.”
And I guess I just think we could all use a “Welcome Home” these days.
Mom’s other trick with baking is that she almost always uses Wondra flour. It is far more expensive than regular flour, and you’re not going to end up with a disaster if you use regular flour, but if you can splurge try the Wondra and see what you think.
A List of Other Discontinued Food Items Often Complained About By My Mother and Me While Cooking Together or On The Phone:
- Australian Toaster Biscuits (Mom has a frozen package in cryogenic hibernation as a sad reminder that we can never have them again. I try not to open her deep freezer)
- Those Entenmann’s Individual Cakes with Cream in the Middle and Powdered Sugar on Top (I contacted Entenmann’s – yes I did – and they can’t even tell me what they were but they existed and they were heaven.
- Kudos Bars
- Honey Nut Clusters
- Grape Nuts O’s
- Clearly Canadian (What I wouldn’t give for some Mountain Blackberry)
- Keebler Pizzarias
- Whipper Snapples
- THE WAY CAMPBELL’S CONDENSED SOUPS USED TO BE. (That’s a story for another post)
Jude’s Apple Pie
For The Crust:
- 3 C Wondra flour
- 2 tspn sugar
- 1 tspn salt
- The Fat Formerly Known As Fluffo:
- 1/2 C Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 C Lard
- 1/3 C Yellow Crisco
- 1/4 C ice cold water
For The Filling:
- 6-8 C granny smith apples, peeled and sliced (amount depends on how high you want your pie filled. I usually land somewhere in the middle)
- 1 tspn ground cinnamon
- 3/4 C sugar
- 2 heaping T flour
- 9 inch pie plate, glass if you have it
- Pastry Cutter
- Plastic wrap
- Rolling Pin
- 2 Mixing bowls (one for crust, one for apples)
- Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife
- Various measuring cups and spoons
- Working quickly to maintain cold temperature, cube your butter
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
- Add the butter, lard, and crisco and incorporate with a pastry cutter or two butter knives. Do not overwork the dough. You’re looking for a sort of semi-wet sand consistency with clumps of your fats still visible and the dough not wet or fully combined. You should be able to press the dough together and crumble it apart fairly easily.
- Pour onto a work surface and form into a disc, remembering not to overwork. Wrap with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator at least one hour or until ready to use.
- Preheat your oven to 425 F/220 C/Gas Mark 7.
- Peel your apples and slice them up. Don’t make the slices too thin or you’ll end up with mushy goo. I mean, if you prefer mushy goo go for it, I guess? But I like my apple pie to have a little bite left. So, normal slices for me.
- In your other mixing bowl, combine the cinnamon, sugar, and flour. Add the apple slices and mix to coat all slices evenly.
- Grab you refrigerated pie dough and a rolling pin. On a cool, floured work surface, portion out about half the dough and roll out into a thin even circle to fit your pie plate. *You may have excess dough which just means you get to make pie crust sticks which no one is going to complain about. You want the dough to fit the pie plate, have some excess hanging over the edged, but not be a monster. Again, important to not overwork the dough at this stage as well. And feel excited if you still see flecks of fat in the dough.
- Transfer to the pie plate. I usually dust it with a little flour, carefully roll it onto the rolling pin like a tortilla, and then unfurl it over the pie plate. Fit the crust into the plate but, you guessed it, don’t overwork it. And don’t cut off any excess at this point!
- Pour the apple mixture into the crust. Dot the filling with butter.
- Roll out the remaining pie dough portion in the same way as before. Transfer it to the top of the pie. Cut away any excess dough bits but make sure you leave a decent amount past the edges of the pie plate because it will shrink while baking.
- Gently press the two crusts together at the pie plate edges to form a seal around the entire pie. If you’re feeling fancy, crimp the edge. My Mom taught me to do this by making a ‘V’ with my pointed and middle finger on one hand and holding that under the edge of the pie crust. Then, using the pointer finger of the other hand, gently pushing down in the open space between the ‘V’ fingers.
- Vent the pie by taking a fork and gently piercing the dough from center to edge in a X pattern across the pie.
- I usually toss a rimmed baking sheet on the rack below my pie to help catch any possible drips. Place the pie on the center rack of your oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 350 F/177 C/Gas Mark 4 and continue baking for 30-40 minutes, until the apples are tender and the crust is golden perfection.
- In the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle the pie with some sugar.
- While the pie is cooling, take any leftover dough, roll it out and cut it into strips. Sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, toss them on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and bubbly.
- Let the pie completely cool to room temperature. I know it will be hard, and some people like warm pie, but you’ve got to let it all settle and come together.