Monday, February 8, 2010

Country Apple Pie

Apple pie. Yawn.

I know, I know. It's a tad passé. Stick with me on this one, folks. It surely won't disappoint you if you follow it through till the end and you mix it up a bit with your apples. There isn't too much innovation going on here, but there really needn't be with something like apple pie. I chose instead to innovate on the quality and type of the ingredients.

I started with my farmer's market Pink Lady apples. And while there wasn't much that was called for, I decided to opt for the juice of the Meyer lemon rather than just the garden variety lemon. I find that their flavor is the perfect amount of tartness and flavor. And for brown sugar, if it's not specified, I love to use the darkest variety I can find. This is typically the muscovado type, or "Barbados sugar." It's got a molassesy flavor that I like to pair with anything from pork to pears. Freshly grind your own nutmeg for the recipe, and you're on your way to a wonderfully-decadent, fabulous yet familiar apple pie. This recipe comes from The Southern Heritage's Pies and Pastries Cookbook.

But we'll start with our crust. I've doubled the recipe I featured before in the post about chocolate bourbon pecan pie. It's a wonderfully versatile crust that I use for any sweet pie. The following recipe for apple pie fits a 9" plate.

2 1/2 C unbleached, all-purpose flour plus extra for work surface
1 t table salt
2 T sugar
12 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" slices
1/2 C chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into two pieces (I always use my home-rendered lard here--you can't beat the flavor!)
1/4 C cold vodka
1/4 C cold water

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 2 4-inch disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Remove one dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured work surface to 12" circle about 1/8" thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least a 1" overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease dough onto plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Trim overhang to 1/2" beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

For the filling now:

6 C of peeled, cored, and thinly-sliced cooking apples
1 T lemon juice
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C firmly-packed dark brown sugar
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 T butter
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 T water

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine apples and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, mixing well. Spoon over apple mixture, tossing gently. Spoon filling into evenly into pastry shell and dot with butter.

Next, remove the other disk of dough from the refrigerator to roll out the top shell. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to a thickness to a circle about 11" in diameter, roughly 1/8" thick. Then, using a 1.25" biscuit cutter or upside-down shot glass of a similar size, cut one hole in the center of the circle. Then, cut 6 more circles around the first.

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Next, wrap the dough loosely around a rolling pin and transfer it while unrolling over the top of the apple filling. Trim the edges. Seal and flute the tops. Brush the top of the pie with the egg and water mixture: this will guarantee a wonderfully golden crust.

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Bake on a rimmed baking tray at 450°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and continue to bake an additional 35 minutes. The rimmed baking tray will ensure that any spilled filling fluid won't burn on the floor of the oven and burn. That smoke flavor simply won't do for country apple pie!

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Enjoy warm with a decadent scoop of Tahitian vanilla ice cream dusted with a touch of cinnamon sugar, and you're good to go.

Keep it classy, y'all!

<3 Davey

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