NomNoms!: Papple Pie and Happy Holidays

I am free readers! Ok, not entirely free from the yolk of graduate school, but more liberated than I've been since…maybe halfway through sophomore year of undergrad. Woot! The thesis has been turned in, allowing me the luxury of an actual holiday break from assignments (not break from work, but I'll take the free time whenever I can get it). My intent is to turn this newfound time into more posts for you guys! Bonus: the world didn't end!

We've bandied the notion of apparent time-travel about several times during the course of the year, but this phenomenon tends to be more widely felt during the holiday season. It seems like the weeks have a proclivity to slip away between bouts of decorating, wrapping, baking, and holiday get-togethers. Suddenly the month of December is drawing to a close and you may find yourself at a loss as to how to fulfill last-minute gifting/baking/hosting obligations. And, quite frankly, after the events of this past week, we could all probably benefit from taking a moment and appreciating the opportunities available to us.

If you're in need of inspiration to festoon the foot of your Wookie Life Day tree, check out our 'Geeky Shoppin' board over on Pinterest. The board features a plethora of ready-made goodies from Think Geek and other purveyors of nerdy goods as well as several handmade items from online markets like Etsy and Shanalogic. (and the Steam Winter Sale is on!) Also, if circumstances or personal choice are causing you to eschew the shopping rituals that lay so heavily on this season, check out some of our other boards for crafty tutorials that'll allow you to express holiday cheer with a creation of your own design.
Threatening your Wookie Life Day since a long, long time ago...
For those of you out there seeking to make more of a gastronomic impression on your friends and family, you can click over to the 'Feed the Nerds' board for recipes and idea on how to turn all sorts of dishes into geeky, edible tributes. Or you could attempt to make pie-licious goodness listed below.

About a year ago, a friend requested that I make 'papple' pie for an upcoming holiday shindig. Though this was, in all likelihood, a slip of the finger rather than an attempt by Siri to invent a new species of edible flora, I was determined to make 'papple' happen. The following is the end result of my kitchen hybriding efforts. Depending on the types of fruit used, the pie can offer a lovely array of holiday hues in addition to imbuing your kitchen with rich and homey scents. It's super easy, highly flavorful, and a fun twist on more traditional pastries.

Difficulty: Easy/Noob
Availability of Ingredients: Common
Gadgetry: Optional
Feeds: 4-8 nerds
Time Till Noms: About 30 minutes of preparation, then an additional 30-40 minutes of baking

Required Equipment: A cutting board, a sharp knife, a large bowl, a pie plate, a rolling pin, a zester or cheese grater, a large spoon or salad tongs, a fork
Optional Equipment: An apple slicer, a citrus juicer

2 or 3 medium-to-large apples
2 or 3 medium-to-large pears
The juice and zest of 1/2 of a medium-sized lemon
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
Dough sufficient to fill at least an 8 inch [20.32cm] pie plate twice (2 scrolls of pre-made pie dough will work perfectly)

*Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees* [204 degrees Celsius]

Step 1: Slice the apples and pears in half, then remove the cores and seeds.

Wait, aren't apple seeds poisonous? Should I do anything special with them?

While they do contain trace amounts of cyanide, the quantity is such that it wouldn't have much of an impact on you, even if you accidentally chopped or chewed a few seeds. So long as you're not chomping down on handfuls of seeds you should be fine.

Step 2: Divide the apples and pears into thin slices or small [1 inch/2.5cm] pieces. There's no discernable correlation between enhanced flavor and fruit shape, so the geometry of your filling is entirely up to you. Toss the chopped fruit into a bowl, then zest (remove the very top layer of the lemon peel with a zester or cheese grater) half a lemon over the fruit. Once you've removed the majority of the rind, squeeze the juice from the half lemon into the bowl, then toss the fruit to ensure even distribution of zest and juice.

Step 3: Sprinkle the sugar, salt, and spices over the fruit, then toss the contents of the bowl again to coat the apples and pears with the dry ingredients. Set the bowl aside.

Step 4: Take 1 scroll of dough (or half your ball of dough if using homemade), and roll it out until it's about 1/8th of an inch [0.32 cm] thick. Lay the dough in your pie plate, then gently make a series of pricks in the dough with a fork (just enough to make an impression, but not enough to poke all the way through the dough). We do this to ensure that the pie dough doesn't accidentally start to rise during the baking process, which would displace the filling. It's not a common occurrence with pre-made dough, but an easy enough remedy that it's sensible to get into the habit of doing.

Behold! The Tower of Papple!
Step 5: Transfer the filling into the pie plate, distributing the fruit as evenly as possible in the dish. Roll out the remainder of your dough to the same thickness as the first 'round' and lay it atop the filling. Pinch the edges of the two layers of dough together, working around the circumference of the pie plate. When the top and bottom layers of dough are conjoined, punch a small ventilation hole in the center of the top.

Step 6: Place the pie in the oven for 20 minutes. After this time has elapsed, check to see if the top of the pie has browned. A finished pie will have a golden brown top and potentially some bubbling fruit juices along the sides of the plate. If the pie has not browned in 20 minutes, continue baking in intervals of 5 minutes until the top reaches the desired color. Remove from the oven once this hue has been attained and allow the pie to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Woot! You have 'papple' pie!


Does it matter what variety of apple/pear I use? You didn't list any species in the ingredients list.

Most types of apples/pears you'd find in a standard grocery store will work just fine. Many stores now include brief descriptions of the best uses for each variety of fruit, which can be helpful. I typically use Granny Smith/Empire apples and Anjou pears, but that's largely just a matter of personal preference. I've used Pink Lady, MacIntosh, Macoun, Fuji, Cortland, and Bourbon apples as well as Bartlett and Fuji pears on various occasions and all serve equally well. Mixing different species can often result in awesome flavors, so I highly recommend experimenting!

Can I add other fruit to the pie?

Definitely! Berries, particularly blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, are an easy little flavor-add. Just toss a handful in with your other fruit and stir. Peaches are another solid option. If you can find pitted pomegranate seeds (or are patient enough to pit them yourself), then those can be another potential +1. I'm personally a fan of tossing a few handfuls of cranberries into a food processor and adding those to the pie, as they add a bit of tartness and a lot of color.

I don't own a pie plate. What can I use instead?

Any heatproof cooking container at least 8 inches [20.32cm] across will suffice. Pyrex baking dishes, the ones you'd usually use to bake brownies, work well in a pinch. Corningware dishes will also get the job done. Potential bonus: pie in fun shapes!
The most recent rendition was this square papple pie

This is a perfect recipe to experiment with or even just get into baking if you're a newcomer to the world of pastry. As always, feel free to send in your pictures or blurbs about your baking experience via the links in the Follow the Nerds page above.

Wishing all you guys a safe and wonderful holiday season!

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