Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's the PIES! Part 2: the Apple Pie

I wanted to work on my apple pie recipe this year. The one I usually use- it's great don't get me wrong- but it's from the back of the frozen pie crust box. My secret is out! But it's not a bad recipe. And it always comes out just fine. But I wanted to try something a little more daring. Ina has an apple pie recipe that I've tried before, but I felt like it had too much citrus. Everyone at my party thought it was great, but I wasn't crazy about it. I am really in love with a cookbook I received last Christmas- Baking Illustrated. It's from the Cook's Illustrated/ America's Test Kitchen people. I looked up their recipe for apple pie and thought I'd give it a go. The juice was really wonderful, but I think I would try different apples in the future. I didn't care for the McIntosh, and would prefer some Romes, Gravensteins or Galas. Because I used my crust recipe, I had one of those big airy crust tents, where the crust sets up before the apples cook down and settle, but that was OK. Once you cut into the pie, the crust fell neatly over the apples. I loved the hint of lemon, from the zest. This pie was delicious- especially good with some Hagen Daas, or fresh whipped cream.
A note about the pie plate- My mother-in-law bought me this pie plate a couple of years ago and I was very skeptical. But I have to say, it works brilliantly. It's got these little bumps in it that make the crust so crisp, even underneath where it's usually kind of soggy. It comes with a ring that you can put over your crust if it's getting too dark, as well. I give it a big kitchen tool thumbs up!

Apple Pie

1 recipe double pie dough
2 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 large Granny Smith apples (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 large MacIntosh apples (about 2 pounds)
1 tbs. juice and 1 tsp. grated zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1 tbs. coarse sugar

Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest oven rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Repeat the process for the pumpkin pie crust as follows. When you're ready to make pie, take the dough out to temper a bit before you try to roll it. Spray your pie plate with a little Pam, or vegetable oil. (In theory, this means you could remove your pie from the pie plate before you serve it, because it won't be stuck to the plate (big oooo! factor here), but I do this because I think it helps the bottom brown, and it makes serving easier.) Roll out the dough to fit your pie plate, on a lightly floured board. Gently transfer the dough to the pie plate without stretching the dough. (Stretching is bad, it means shrinkage.) Press the dough along the sides of the plate, and then refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate.
Peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut the quarters into 1/4 inch slices, then toss with the lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the flour, spices and salt. Toss the dry ingredients with the apples. Turn the fruit mixture, including the juices into the chilled pie shell and mound it in the middle.
Roll out the second piece of dough. Place it over the filling. Trim the edges of the top and bottom layers to 1/2 inch over the edge of the pie plate. Tuck the dough over itself so that it is even with the pan lip. Flute the edge, or seal it with a fork. Cut 4 slits in the top. Put the whole pie in the freezer for 10 minutes. Brush the egg white on the top crust, and sprinkle it evenly with the coarse sugar.
Place the pie on the baking sheet in the oven and lower the temperature to 425 degrees. Bake the pie until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pie from front to back and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue baking until the juices bubble and the crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool.

I use a melon-baller to core the apples.
Trying to mound all those apples in the pie shell is hard, but totally worth it. Do your best.
A note about the coarse sugar- I really like the way coarse sugar looks on baked goods. It's got much larger granules than regular granulated sugar. I buy it at the local cake supply shop, but I bet you could find it at Michael's as well.

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