Making an Apple Pie in Bahrain

In response to my first blog, I was asked for more information about some of my travels and one of my favorite stories is how I made an Apple Pie in Bahrain.

I mean, it wasn’t so much about how I made the actual pie but how I had to go about getting the ingredients to do so.

It was going to be the 4th of July and I was sharing an apartment with 3 military guys that I thought deserved something ultra American for that day and I wanted to surprise them with a pie.

However, I didn’t have access to a car and while I felt safe enough going out on my own in Bahrain, it’s not a great idea to get in a taxi as a single white woman.  Therefore, I would have to just walk the 1.7 miles to the closest market.

The other problem I faced was that it was July.  In Bahrain.  Which meant the moment the sun came up till the sun went down, it was over 100 degrees.  And, in case you skimmed over the line above, the market was 1.7 miles away.  I didn’t want to sweat to death, but more importantly, I didn’t want my butter to melt!.

Ok, it’s the morning of the 4th of July.  The military folk leave the apartment at the ungodly hour of 5am; makes it easy to actually complete my pie surprise, if I can succeed in getting my ingredients.  The market opens at 7am and I figured it would take me about 20 mins to walk there.  I left the apartment shortly after 6:30am and by the time I arrived, the market was just opening and I welcomed the blast of air conditioning that hit my already sweat drenched face.  Seriously, that country is hot!

As quickly as I could, I went around the store and gathered all my supplies and picked up my butter last.  This left me with a dilemma though.  It was already much too hot to walk outside with the butter and I didn’t have one of those fancy insulated cooler grocery bags that are all the rage now (if I just reminded you that you needed to buy one of those, click here.) I stood in the aisle with butter in hand thinking, thinking, thinking.  What is the answer to every random need?  Duct tape!

But no, not in this case.  Frozen peas.  I bought two large bags of frozen peas and when I checked out, made sure my butter was surrounded by the peas in my sack and walked as quickly as I could back along the dusty roads of Bahrain, waited for the elevator to go up to the 11th floor and rushed inside the apartment to see if I had been successful.  The peas were chilled but no longer frozen, my butter soft, but not melty.  Success was achieved!

I took a cold shower while I waited for my butter to firm back up in the fridge and produced one of the most perfect flaky crusted apple pies I have ever made.  My roomies were delighted with the surprise and oddly enough, no one asked me how or when I went to the grocery store to get the goods.

Here is my tried and true Apple Pie recipe…and it’s not a typo below when you see me write about pears, that’s the secret ingredient.

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Filling

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 green apples
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Ali’s Apple Pie

  1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar.
  2. Add butter and shortening and cut with two forks or a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of the fat.
  3. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Continue cutting into the mixture until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (add up to 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time). To help ensure a flaky crust, do not over mix!
  4. Transfer half of dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form dough into a disk 3/4 inch thick; wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Repeat with remaining dough.

1 hour later…

  1. Lightly flour your counter and place a disk of dough in center. Rolling from center outward (use a wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin), form into a 12-inch circle. Wrap the dough disk gently in plastic and refrigerate. Repeat with second disk of dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a rack set in lowest position. Remove first circle of dough from refrigerator; and carefully unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently lift edges and lower dough into the pie plate so it hugs bottom and sides. Avoid stretching the dough, which will make it shrink during baking. Refrigerate.
  3. Place lemon juice in a large bowl. Peel, core, and cut apples and the pear into 1/4-inch-thick slices; halve crosswise, and add to lemon juice.
  4. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.
  5. Remove dough-lined pie plate from refrigerator. Add filling mixture and dot with butter.
  6. Lightly brush rim of pie shell with water. Remove remaining circle of dough from refrigerator. Lay over top; press along moistened rim to seal and rip off and crimp the extra dough.
  7. Cut 5 slits in top of pie.
  8. Bake 20 minutes; reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes more.

 

 

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