Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It's State Fair Time- All American Apple Pie Gets a State Fair Update

It's that time of year again. The Iowa State Fair kicks off in two days with the annual parade through downtown, and ten days of  rides, shows, food, competitions, concerts, food, tractor pulls, lemonade, food, baby animals, arts and crafts, food, free stuff, contests and of course- food! The Iowa State Fair is the once a year event for many of us to throw good eating habits out the window and have that fried-something-naughty-on-a-stick. You can't eat that everyday but once a year, you just have to!

The first ever Iowa State Fair was held in 1854, a mere eight years after being granted statehood.  It was quite an event for the time, admission was 25 cents. Women on horseback was the entertainment highlight of that first fair. Ten women participated, all competing for a gold watch as the prize. The fair moved around Iowa several times before finally landing at it permanent home in Des Moines in 1879. In 1886 the current location of the fairgrounds was purchased, and the rest is history.

Our great state fair is well known for many things, from crashing locomotives for entertainment, to the famous Butter Cow, and most notably, for being the inspiration for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Tony Award-nominated musical State Fair, the story of the Frake family and their Iowa State Fair experiences in 1946.

Now, without a doubt, when we talk about the state fair, we usually don't talk about the historical stuff (other than the musical, because most Iowans think that is pretty cool actually), we talk about the FOOD. Starting in the early days with humble lemonade and popcorn, to today's fair with more vendors than I can count, selling everything from corn dogs, to hot beef sundaes (yes, it's a thing) to deep fried butter on a stick (yes....that is also a thing). Deep fried, on a stick and hugely oversized- think smoked turkey legs- is the Special of The Day at the fair. Every year several new signature items are added to the food lineup. This year they include the Bacon Brisket Bomb, Corn in a Cup, and fried Apple Pie on a Stick. 

I used regular bamboo skewers you can find in any kitchen
store, but I cut them in half.
Of course, our office loves to have food days. We have one for loads of occasions and certainly State Fair Food sounds like an amazing chance to whip up something utterly naughty, maybe fried, maybe on a stick even..... and share it. So the committee that plans events sent out an email last week announcing a State Fair Food Day with prizes in several categories. My brain immediately started planning......and after much internal debate settled on Apple Pie on a Stick. I have heard that the fair's apple pie on a stick is simply apple wedges, threaded on a skewer, then dipped in funnel cake batter and fried. Well......I can do better than that!! Let's make MY version!

Apple Pie on a Stick With Bourbon Cinnamon Glaze
(makes about 36)

2-3 Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 batches double crust pastry (3 packages store-bought)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
bamboo skewers

Prepare your pastry. If using the store bought rolled up kind (and hey I did!!) let it rest at room temp while getting the apples ready.

Peel, core and chop the apples into small cubes. The "pies" are small so you need tiny pieces of apple. Place apples in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice and ginger over. Toss well to evenly coat the apples with the mixture. Set aside.

I love the flavor of cinnamon and allspice with apples, so I
went pretty heavy handed with spices. You can adjust to suit
your taste, same with the sugar.
Roll out (or unroll) the pastry and cut into circles using a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter or, as I did, the ring from a canning jar- that is the perfect size. Working with one pie at a time, use your fingers to moisten one side of a pastry circle. Press a skewer lightly into the pastry.

A canning jar ring made the perfect cutter. I moistened the
pastry circle with water and lightly pressed the skewer into
the dough so it would be pretty secure.
Spoon on about a tablespoon of the apple filling into the middle. 

Top with a second pastry circle and press the edges to seal. Crimp however you like, as fancy as you like, and cut a couple slits in the top to allow stem to escape. 

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

If you like, you can brush them with milk and sprinkle with
sugar before baking. I did not, since I was adding a glaze.
I made a batch at a time, working on the next dozen while one was in the oven.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.

Aren't they pretty?
In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, bourbon, vanilla, spices and enough milk to make the glaze a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the pies (on a rack over the cookie sheet is good) and allow the glaze to dry before storing loosely covered.

I was a little disappointed that the food day ended up being cancelled because not many people were able to participate. That's not unusual this time of year- it's back to school, fair time, families are busy with kids, sports, school supplies, vacations and so on. Sadly that meant no prizes and no voting, but I did get a quality coupon that's redeemable for paid time off as a thank you for participating, so I was happy. All my team members said I would have won Best Food on a Stick so I went home with very few leftovers and feeling pretty good!!

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