Monday, February 14, 2011

Apple Pie to End All Apple Pies

This recipe, officially called "All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie" hails from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home to Yours," which is my baking bible. This pie is just about the best I have ever eaten, from homemade to fancy bakery bought. the crust is amazingly flakey, the filling is perfect and I cannot think of a better way to overdo it on the calories. It is so good that it doesn't even need vanilla ice cream. But if you do accompany the pie with said ice cream, I am not responsible for the funny looks you will inevitably get when you moan from happiness as you eat it.

Oh, and the best of all tricks: freeze the butter and the shortening before you chop them into little much easier than slicing cold and quickly melting butter.

For a 9 inch Double Crust

3 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
2 ½ sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tbsp size pieces
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
About ½ cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing- what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 Tbsps of the water- add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface.

Divide the dough in half. Gather each half into a ball, flatten each ball into a disk and wrap each half in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling (if your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge). You can stop at this point and continue the next day if you would like...I always do.

To Roll Out the Dough: Have a buttered 9 inch pie plate at hand.

You can roll the dough out onto a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. If you’re working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to life the paper, plastic, or cover frequently so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases.

If you’ve got time, slide the rolled out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest and firm up.

For the Pie

4 pounds (about 6 very large) apples (I used a couple of granny smiths, a couple of fujis and a couple of galas.)
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon (microplane is the tool for this folks. Bed Bath and Beyond, Williams Sonoma,
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (seriously, grind your own...use the microplane on the nuts you buy at Cost Plus...much better and not too difficult.)
1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or dry bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

For the Glaze (optional)

Milk or heavy cream
Decorating (coarse) or granulated sugar

Getting Ready: Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate (I use a Pyrex pie plate). If you want to use a standard 9-inch pie plate, just reduce the amount of filling by about one quarter.

Working on a well-floured surface (or between wax paper or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Fit the dough into the buttered pie plate and trim the edges to a 1/2-inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick circle and slip it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Cover both the circle and the crust in the pie plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, while you preheat the oven and prepare the filling. (If it's more convenient, the crust can be well covered and kept refrigerated overnight.)

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, core and slice the apples. You've got a choice for slicing: you can cut each apple in half and then slice each half crosswise or lengthwise into slices about 1/4 inch thick, or you can cut the apples into chunks about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on a side. In either case, put the apples into a large bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest tapioca, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Toss everything together really well- I do this with my hands. If you've got a little time, let the mix sit for about 5 minutes, until juice starts to accumulate in the bottom of the bowl.

Remove the pie plate and top crust from the refrigerator and put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the crust-this will help keep it from getting too soggy (some sog is inevitable)- and then turn the apples and their juices into the crust. The apples will heap over the top of the crust. Pat them into an even mound. Dot the apples with the bits of cold butter. (The world will not end if you forget the me.)

Very lightly moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water, then center the top crust over the apples. (If the crusts-top and bottom- are still very cold and in danger of cracking when you work with them, let them sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes.) Either fold the overhang from the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp the crust attractively, or press the top crust against the bottom crust and trim the overhang from both crusts even with the rim of the pie plate. If you've pressed and trimmed the crust, use the tines of a fork to press the two crusts together securely. Really I just mush the two crusts together for an easy, I like to call it "rustic" look.

Use a sharp paring knife to cut about 6 slits in the top crust. If you'd like, brush the top crust with a little milk or cream and sprinkle it with sugar.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the pie for another 50 to 60 minutes (total baking time is between 65 and 75 minutes), or until the crust is gorgeously browned and the juices bubble up through the top crust. After about 40 minutes in the oven, if the top crust looks as if it's browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with a foil tent.

Transfer the pie to a rack and let it rest until it is only just warm or until it reaches room temperature.