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Housewarming Apple Pie & 10 Open House Tips

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There is not much that can make a house feel like a ‘warm home’ like the smell of a home-made apple pie baking in the oven.  That is probably why when perspective buyers are to walk through a home, the advice usually starts with “bake an apple pie”.  Hence the Housewarming Apple Pie! As I have mentioned in past posts, my husband and I have listed our home and what better smell to have wafting through it than this? Absolutely none!

As part of ‘Home Month’ I thought I would list out some great open house tips like these for those of you who might be thinking of listing your home and then we can get right to the business of baking this beautiful autumn treat! Whether you are working with a realtor, which I highly recommend, or listing yourself, these tips are invaluable when presenting what you want people to envision as their next home…

10 TIPS FOR YOUR NEXT OPEN HOUSE:

1. Bake an apple pie or simmer some apple cider with cinnamon sticks on the stove.  Smell is one of those senses that are almost subliminal in helping people to feel comfortable in a situation.

2. Clean up. One might think this is self-explanatory, but sometimes we are blind to the “clutter” spots in our own homes, get those too!

3. Play some soft music, think ambiance.

4. Leave.  Your realtor should tell you this, but perspective buyers normally won’t feel comfortable if you are hanging around. If you don’t have a realtor, find a trusted friend to handle the open house for you and have them gather information from anyone who tours the home on a sheet of paper with their realtor’s information.

5. Take pets with you.  You want people to feel comfortable and even if you have the friendliest animal in the world, you still don’t want Fido panting up someone’s leg.  Not to mention you never know what people’s allergies are.

6. Set your dining room table.  This helps people to visualize themselves eating dinner in your home.

7. Turn on lights.  You want to be sure people can see what they are looking for without searching out light switches. Seems basic, but sometimes very over looked.

8. Let in as much natural light as possible.  The more curtains and blinds you can open the better.  Natural light tends to make a home feel more open.

9. Make sure people know about it.  I can’t stress this enough.  Advertize the open house at least one week in advance.  Utilize sites like Craigslist, Yahoo Classifieds and Recycler.com.  Utilize social media, put your MLS listing with pictures up and advertize the date and time a week ahead asking that friends share the information.  Then a couple of days ahead of time, place signs in your neighborhood directing people to your home.

10. Don’t forget about curb appeal.  Remember, the first thing people see when they get to your home is the front door and the outside of your home.  Be sure your lawn is mowed.  Be sure toys are tidy if you have children.  And add a pretty touch like the Autumn Wreath we made last week!

Whether you plan on making this home-made apple pie for your next open house, to bring to a housewarming party for someone with a new home or just to enjoy around your family table, you won’t be disappointed with the outcome!  You could purchase a ready-made pie crust, but in case you are looking for the full effect, I will start off by taking you through a super tender and delicious home-made crust that can be used for virtually any pie!

Start by adding flour to a large bowl.

Add in salt and sugar (they look virtually the same, so I won’t bore you with two photos) 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1 Tbs. sugar will do it.

Dice up some cold butter, very cold.

Add butter to the flour.

Then use some shortening. I used this butter flavored shortening which comes in this convenient bar that I keep in the fridge so it is cold as well.

Dice this up as well although it isn’t nearly as stiff as the butter.

Once you have both butter and shortening in the flour you are ready to cut into the flour.

If you have a food processor, have at it. Mine is on the fritz, but honestly, this process take like 45 seconds longer with a hand pastry tool like this one, so to me it isn’t worth making the mess of the food processor for one pie crust. If you don’t have either, you can still make a pie crust, in the old days, it was done with a couple of butter knives, so have at it, cut away!

You want to cut the butter into the flour until it looks ‘mealy’ like so.

To this, I add in very cold tap water.

You want just enough moisture for it to come together without being too sticky. It should still be flaky like so.  Try and do most of the working with your wooden spoon to avoid too much warmth from your hands melting that butter.  But, once it is almost there, you will need to help it along a bit.

Divide the dough in two, form two discs and place on a plate divided by parchment paper.

Add the second half right on top. Cover lightly and pop in the fridge while you make the filling.

Here are my apples… I have all different varieties here, some from the Farmer’s Market, some from the grocery store and some from apple picking! A variety of different apples, some tart, some sweet will yield you the best pie!

Cut them up to a medium slice. I don’t go too uniform as long as they are similar in size, shape doesn’t really matter to me. I like biting into a variety.  I don’t place them in a bowl, but rather a large pot. (that’s another secret)

So a lot of people like to use flour in their pie. One of my secrets to a pie that is not ‘watery’ is to use corn starch. I feel like it does a better job at thickening the apple juices. Also, if you pick up a gluten-free pie crust, you can actually have a gluten-free pie!

Add it into your pot.

Add in one tablespoon of cinnamon.

No need to stir yet, just sprinkle right on top of the corn starch.

Then the nutmeg. I have said this before, if you don’t have fresh nutmeg, omit this ingredient entirely. Please don’t use powdered nutmeg from a jar. The fresh stuff is not that expensive and the difference in the taste is substantial.

Sprinkle over the top.

Add in kosher salt.

Next add in just a pinch of Ground Allspice. This is NOT the Portuguese All Spice I use in my savory recipes. This is an actual spice that is called Allspice.

Add in sugar.

Now mix.

This is what you want it to look like.

Add in two tablespoons of unsalted butter.

Turn on the heat to medium. This is my second secret.

Cook while stirring occasionally for about 8-10 mins. Your goal is not to fully cook the apples, but to melt the butter and sugar so they are evenly distributed and gel well with the corn starch. And to par cook the apples.

At about the half way of cooking mark add in the juice of half a fresh lemon. Again, if you don’t have fresh lemon, please omit this ingredient. There is no substitution for fresh lemon juice. This lemon is my third secret, it provides just enough tartness to counter the sugar.

Once the filling is made, take one round out of the fridge at a time, you want this to stay cold. Place it on a rolling mat if you have one, I LOVE this one and use it quite often for all kinds of projects. You’ll also want to have flour at the ready to help with sticking. Flour the mat and the top for the round lightly to prevent sticking.

Roll out to a little larger than your pie plate.

To easily add your crust to your plate without breaking, roll it onto your rolling pin using your mat to help lift.

Once it’s on your rolling pin, unroll it onto your pie plate.

Now you are ready to fill.

Once filled, repeat the rollingout process and place second crust over the top.

Form a pretty edge being sure that you are sealing the two crusts together to prevent leaking.

Here it is with the completed edge, cut off any remaining edge.

Add in vent holes, this is important to allow the steam to escape.

Next, make a thick egg wash with one egg yolk and just a splash of water.

Brush onto the the crust.

Sprinkle with sugar. (At this point you could store in the fridge for later or bake right away… If you are planning this for an open house, make in the morning and pop in the oven just before show time! Just let your realtor know to take it out and place on stovetop when ready!)

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45-50 mins until crust is golden brown.

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And even better than this is Alla-Mode!

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Housewarming Apple Pie

Serves 6-10

Filling Ingredients:

7-9 large apples, different varieties, peeled, cored and sliced

1/3 cup corn starch

2/3 cup sugar

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp Allspice

1/8 tsp. fresh nutmeg, ground

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

Ingredients for Pie Crust:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

1/3 cup cold butter flavored shortening, cubed

2 Tbs. sugar, divided

1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup cold water

1 egg yolk, beaten with splash of water

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Prepare pie crust first and refrigerate while preparing filling.

To prepare crust: Place flour in a large bowl.  Add in butter, shortening, 1 Tbs. sugar, and salt.  Cut together with a pastry cutter until crumbly.  Add in water, mix with wooden spoon until water is absorbed fully.  Finish bringing dough together quickly with hands.  Avoid touching with warm hands as much as possible. Divide dough, form into two discs and refrigerate until ready for use.

For the apple filling: Add apple slices into a large pot on the stove.  Add in corn starch, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and stir.  Turn on heat to medium and add butter, stir.  Heat for 5 minutes stirring a few times to distribute the ingredients as they melt. Add in juice of half a lemon, sitr again.  Heat for another two minutes and remove from heat.

Roll out the pie dough.  Place one half in pie plate, fill with apple filling and lay the second rolled dough on top.  Pinch together edges and form a seal then make into a pretty crust edging.  Place vent holes on top of the crust to allow steam out.  Brush top with egg wash (1 beaten egg yolk with splash of water) and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbs. sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for at least one hour before serving.

Enjoy!

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