So yesterday was my mom's 58th birthday. I am shocked I remembered because I have been telling folks she was 60 for about eight or so years now... A few things you need to know about good ole Sarah J, my mama:
#1 She does what she wants when she wants
#2 She is never on time (Even after almost 30 years in the Army)
#3 She has celiac disease, so I have had it up to here with gluten free recipes at this point
#4 She is incredibly picky for someone who has a serious food allergy
#5 And she is the most giving person I know
That being said, my birthday is literally two days before hers. She gave me an insane amount of stuff for my birthday (see #1 and 5), she showed up to my little get together for my birthday around 9:20pm when I'm sure it started at 6pm (see #2), she demanded a gluten-free cupcake heated up with absolutely no icing on it (#3 and 4), and still managed to try giving me even more gifts yesterday on her birthday (what I love the most about her see #5). That being said, I wanted her 60th birthday (I mean 58th) to be perfect. So we scooped up (yet again) a house robe for her, which she absolutely loves, and I started plotting our gluten-free, for the ever so picky Sarah J, birthday menu.
Side note: Let me tell y'all (for my not southern folks: this means you and all as in you guys, you peps, you people: y'all) something about gluten-free baking: I hate it. So much empathy for people who have to eat that way, so much respect for people who choose to eat that way, but I cannot stand baking with gluten-free flour. There is always a surprise factor involved. This could, of course, speak to my level of expertise in the kitchen but still!
I decided on fried fish, rice, broccoli, homemade tarter sauce, and some delicious apple tarts. Now, I know how to make a pretty good apple pie. Essspppecialy if I sneak a pre-made box of crust into my grocery cart instead of making one from scratch like I usually do. But to celebrate my mama turning the big 6-0, I wanted this dessert to knock her picky socks off. I found a french apple tart recipe online: decided there were way too many layers for me to be trying to deal with (I am not Ina guys). Found another tart that I liked: It caused for frozen puff pastry. No sir! This is my mom's 60th (I mean 58th) birthday! There will be no frozen anything thank you very much. Found an old puff pastry recipe: ummmm.... yeah it's not that big of a birthday milestone for her... I could go buy a frozen pre-made one for all of that. Then I came across this recipe on Taste of Lizzy T's . Now granted, I went through all of this fuss to find a pastry recipe because I already know how to make a pie crust, but after about an hour of searching and my eyes crossing I decided I would just stick to the basics. Don't judge me.
I have always been taught that a good pie crust (or biscuits which is a pretty close recipe to pie) starts with cold-cold-cold stuff. What does that mean in the kitchen? Cold ingredients, cold bowls and utensils if you wanted to take the extra step to do that, and as little bit of touching the dough with your body heat. I got my girls to help out with the measuring and with the apples (which essentially meant they made playdough on my counter and ate a bunch of apples I was trying to get cut). On my birthday (because I was told I couldn't lift a finger that day) I played around with making some apple jelly. It bombed. Horribly. BUT I was able to make an apple...syrup...if you will. I used that with some lemon juice to keep my apples, what was left, from turning. And, because I spoke it into existence, her dough was soggy. Maybe too much butter on my part? Or maybe it's because baking with gluten-free flour always goes wrong? We shall never know. As I have seen on many cooking show, I decided to par bake it in an attempt to stiffen up her "soggy bottom" <--- you would get that if you ever watched a British cooking show. Ever. Some sliced spiced apples layered on top (because the dough was to squishy to fold, move, or even look at) made a pretty nice looking open-faced gluten free apple tart!
I don't want to lie to you. The one on the right is the gluten-free tart. The other tart is a highly glutenized version of hers that I made for the rest of us.
I am happy to report that Sarah J was not only thrilled with her meal, she made it a point to tell me that she actually hates apple pie (especially ones that have a few peels still on them) but that she loved this one.
#6 My mom will never lie to you to make you feel better about yourself. She would rather tell you something absolutely sucks so you can begin working on improving on it
One thing about my mom, she might be a lot of wild things- but she is the greatest 60 year old mom I could ever have :)
Peace, Love, and Strength
Pie Crust (gluten) recipe above in link.
Apple syrup (homemade apple juice or regular apple juice cooked with sugar)
Corn starch to thicken
Layer apple slices across half the recipe for crust then lay second piece across top and tuck in edges. Coat with an egg wash (one egg and water) and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Slice top dough with 4-6 slits across top. Bake on 400 F for about 30 minutes or until brown. Mix a splash of milk with powdered sugar for a drizzle to go on top.