Classic Apple Pie: Just in Time for the Holidays (and Every Other Day Too!)

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Sometimes you just crave a little fruit in the winter, but it can be hard to find a dessert that is perfect for that time of year when summer fruits and berries such as strawberries, peaches, or apricots are simply not in season…. With the winter holiday season upon us, I thought it would be a perfect time to share with you a classic dessert that not only shows up in various forms in anime all the time, but that also uses seasonal fruit available in the colder months of the year. Packed full of tender, juicy, and slightly tart apples all wrapped up in a crispy, buttery crust, my favorite fall/winter fruit dessert has to be the crowd-pleasing apple pie!

I admit, that though this pie uses very simple ingredients, it’s not the easiest dessert to make because there are quite a few steps – mainly Applepie - Sukitte ii na yo 05 - 02because this recipe calls for making the crust as well as the filling from scratch…

However, the components of the pie aren’t overly complicated (just when put all together it can look a little overwhelming) and can be done in parts on different days (make the dough for the crust on one day, bake the pie on another), so that alleviates a lot of the stress!

Even if you’ve never made a pie before, I encourage you to try this one out, because apple pie is pretty forgiving as far as pies go, and is a great way to get into all the joys and deliciousness that is pie-making!

About the recipe:

There are 2 main techniques behind this recipe that make it a real success:

Applepie - Sukitte ii na yo 05 - 01Blind baking the crust is a technique where an empty pie or tart shell is baked before the filling is added. Pre-baking ensures the crust is fully baked, and is not gummy and under baked.

To blind bake a pie crust, simply line your unbaked pie shell with parchment paper and fill with weights (these can be anything from commercially made pie weights to uncooked dry beans or rice), pressing down lightly on the weights to ensure the shell is evenly and entirely filled. The weights will prevent the shell from bubbling or puffing up as it bakes.

Bake until the entire crust is a light, matte, golden color, making sure to check under the weights too. If it is shiny, it needs more time in the oven.

Applepie - Sukitte ii na yo 05 - 03Macerating the apples before baking allows the apples to release some of their moisture, softening the apples and causing them shrink a little. This step allows you to pile even more apples into the pie – almost twice as many than if you didn’t macerate! Macerating the apples also helps to prevent or minimize the possibility of a pocket of air between the fruit filling and the top crust.

About the ingredients:

Granny smith apples are tart, green apples that tend to stay firm and dry out a little bit in the oven. They’re perfect in this recipe for giving the pie filling a bright flavor and lending more dimension and texture to the macintosh apples, which tend to be more juicy, soft, and sweet.

Macintosh apples are sweet apples with a red and green skin that become soft and juicy when baked, complementing the tarter, firmer granny smith apples.

Sanding sugar is a coarse sugar comprised of extra large crystals that will not melt in the oven, making it an ideal garnish for sprinkling on cookies, pie crusts, and other crispy topped baked goods. It comes in a variety of colors, but for this recipe, the clear shiny variety works best to add some sparkle to the pie. Sanding sugar can be found in most grocery stores, but if you don’t feel like investing in a big bag of the stuff, I usually just buy a coffee from the local coffee shop and grab a few extra “raw sugar” packets to garnish my pie with add to my drink.

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The recipe:

Apple pie

Makes one 9-inch pie (about 8 – 10 slices)

Ingredients:

For the pate brisee crust

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp cold milk

For the pie filling:

  • 4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3 medium macintosh or rome apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • a pinch of cinnamon

For garnish:

  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 2 tbsp sanding sugar

Directions:

Making the pate brisee dough:

1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Scatter butter over the top of the flour mixture, and mix on low speed until the flour is no longer bright white, it holds together when you clump it between your fingers, and lumps of butter the size of pecans are visible throughout, about 60 to 90 seconds.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and milk until thoroughly blended. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough just barely comes together, about 30 seconds. It will look very shaggy and not particularly dough-like.

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean, unfloured work surface. Gather dough into a tight mound. Starting at the top of the mound, slide your palm down one side of the dough and along the work surface, smearing the dough bit by bit until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Repeat this process once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the dough until it becomes a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.

4. Gather up the dough and separate 1 third of the dough from the rest. Flatten each portion into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least 4 hours before continuing with the recipe. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If frozen, defrost in the fridge before using.

Blind baking the pie shell:

1. Remove the larger piece (two thirds) of dough from the fridge and, on a well floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.

Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unfurl the dough over a 9-inch pie plate. Use your fingers to gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, leaving a 1/4 inch lip overhanging the edge (to allow for shrinkage in the oven).

2. Refrigerate pie shell for at least 30 minutes. At this point, the dough can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bake directly from the fridge or freezer.

3. Preheat the oven to 350F, and place the rack in the center position.

Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Blind bake the shell until the entire shell is light brown, about 30 minutes.

Making the apple filling and baking the pie:

1. While your crust is blind baking in the oven, prepare your apple filling by combining the apples, flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, mixing the apples occasionally.

2. When the pie shell is done blind baking, remove it from the oven, leaving the oven set at 350F. Carefully remove the weights and parchment paper. Add the apples to the shell, pressing down lightly to compact the fruit. To minimize the possibility of an air pocket between the apples and the crust, try to arrange the apples in an even layer, rather than mounded at the center of the pie.

3. On a well floured work surface, roll out the remaining dough according to one of the methods below:

For a fully covered pie: roll the dough into a 1/8 inch thick 10 inch circle. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unfurl the dough over the apples, allowing the crust to hang over the edge. Use a sharp paring knife to cut vents in the crust, which will allow steam to escape as the apples bake.

For a simple lattice topped pie: roll the dough into a 6 x 10 inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into narrow strips, about 1/3 inch wide. You should end up with about 12 strips. Drape half the strips across the top of the apples, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Drape the remaining strips at a 45 degree angle to the first half.

For a true lattice topped pie: roll the dough into a 6 x 10 inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into narrow strips, about 1/3 inch wide. You should end up with about 12 strips. Place one strip just off of the center of the pie, and place a second strip at a 45 degree angle to the first. Then, working one strip of dough at a time and alternating between directions, add additional strips in a basket weave (over/under) pattern, gently lifting the strips as needed. Form the basic lattice pattern first, laying down all your dough strips before carefully adjusting their position to perfection.

For all the above crust methods, do not trim the excess dough on the crust, letting it hang down at least 1/4 inch to allow for shrinkage in the oven. Brush with lightly beaten egg, and sprinkle the top crust with sanding sugar.

4. Place the pie on a rimmed baking tray (to catch any possible spills), and bake at 350F until the apples are soft and easily pierced by a small knife, and the upper crust is golden brown all the way through, about 1 hour and 10 minutes t0 1 1/2 hours.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving. Use a small sharp knife to carefully trim the overhanging dough from the edge of the pie plate.

Serve warm or at room temperate with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Source: Flour: spectacular recipes from Boston’s flour bakery+cafe by Joanne Chang

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