Childhood Apple Pie


With this recipe, the food processor is your friend! Using it not only mixes the dough in just the right way to roll out an amazingly workable pie crust, it slices the apples evenly and thinly, which adds a nice texture to the filling.

I consider myself to be somewhat of a purist when it comes to cooking. But for certain efficiencies and the precision that baking calls for,  kitchen gadgets are a powerful, effective aid and I've adapted my all-butter pie crust recipe to use the food processor when making pie crust.
My engineer husband always reminds me that technology helps to move us forward, in every aspect of life, and I have to say it is true for the philosophy of pie crust making too!

When I was young, my mom and dad would take my brother, sister and I apple picking at an orchard just north of Toronto. I loved it! There's something so fun as a kid-- to be able to run around, climb trees, look for the biggest, reddest apples to pick - all the while snacking on the "all you can eat" apples. Afterward, we'd buy a fresh apple pie, and have it when we got home.

Call it nostalgia, but to this day, after having what must be hundreds of apple pies, I still think it was the best apple pie ever. I've been working on duplicating it and think that I've got the recipe real close to that scrumptious flaky and crunchy crust, and sweet, textured apple filling.
I like my apple to crust ratio in a way where there is more crust to filling, and where the filling is a little saucy and sweet. If this sounds delicious to you, give it a go and leave a comment to tell me what you think!

Crust
2 1/2 cups or 375 g all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 cup or 280 g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and place in the freezer for 30 min
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
About 2-4 tbsp ice cold water, as needed

Filling
6 cups of mixed apples like 4 Golden Delicious and 2 Red Delicious or Macintosh, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp cornstarch

1 egg beaten for egg wash + 1 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp white sugar, for sprinkling over the pie


First off, cut the butter into 1 by 1-inch cubes and place in a bowl, into the freezer for 30 min.

Put the apple pie crust ingredients (flour, butter, sugar and salt) in the food processor and mix. Add 2 tbsp of ice cold water and mix. Add another 1/2 tbsp of water at a time and continue to mix. Once it forms into a large ball of dough, stop mixing. Take it out of the food processor and split the dough into two parts to make two round discs (do not roll the dough yet). Wrap each with saran wrap and place them in the fridge for 1 hour. Do not worry if the butter is marbled or "chunky" looking, it's perfect if it looks this way! 

In the meantime, clean the food processor and use the medium size slicing blade to slice the cored and skinned apples. In a large bowl, mix the cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, two sugars, lemon juice and add the apples and stir everything together well.  

After the dough has been refrigerated for at least 1 hr, take one of them out. Let it sit for 5 min before rolling it out. 
Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on a clean surface and roll the dough out with a rolling pin. Don't be afraid to add more flour to the surface you're working on, the rolling pin and the dough itself to ensure it doesn't stick. 

OK, here are a few tips I learned from a pastry chef friend: 

Tip 1 - Wash your hands in cold water (and dry with towel) so that your hands are cold when handling the dough. Any extra heat or warmth melts the butter prematurely. Also, handle the dough with your hands as minimally as possible.

Tip 2 - You should never use the handles of the rolling pin for this. Applying the pressure to the pin itself helps to spread the dough out evenly. 

Tip 3 - When rolling the dough, push from the middle outward without going back and forth. The idea is to push the dough out to spread it and the back and forth motion may be intuitive but is counterproductive to helping the dough thin out. Push out from the middle and continue doing this in a starburst fashion.

Tip 4 - Again, you should handle and work the pie dough as little as possible. Overworking the dough melts the butter and the crust is less flaky as a result.

Keep rolling until the pie crust is about 3 mm thick and larger than the pie pan so that when you place it in the pie pan, there is some dough hangs over the rim. Gently lift the sheet of dough with the help of the rolling pin and place it into the pie pan. If you're still preparing the filling and also need time to work on the pie top, place the pie dough and pan back into the fridge so it doesn't warm too much.

Place all the apples into the pan - remember they will shrink somewhat so don’t be afraid to pile it up high.

Roll out the second disc of dough. If you want to make a covered pie crust, leave it as is and gently lift the sheet of dough with the help of the rolling pin and place it on top of the apples. Don't forget to slit an X in the middle so that the pie can breathe when baking (1 by 1 inch X works fine).

If you want to make a lattice crust, like the one I have in my photo, cut the dough into strips with a knife or pizza cutter. Have fun with this part, the strips don’t need to be the same width. I cut wider strips, they are easier to handle!

To place it on the apple pie, start with the middle longest piece and place in the middle of the pie, vertically. Take the next longest and place in the middle, horizontally. Continue alternating this way and make sure you lift the pieces and weave to create the lattice look. Cut off the extra dough hanging off the sides. Now, use thumb and forefinger to pinch the edge of the crust all the way around to create the fluting pie crust.

Here's a 2-min short video posted by King Arthur Flour company: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwQYd2ljw-4 

Mix the egg with 1 tbsp of water to make the eggwash. With a pastry brush, brush it all over the pie crust to add that shine over the crust.  Sprinkle the white sugar all over the pie.

Bake at 375 F for 45-50 min. If the crust gets too dark, cover with tin foil and continue to bake until the pie filling is completely cooked and bubbling.

Apple pie freezes well if you store it in an airtight container. I like to double the recipe and make one large pie and a few mini 6-inch pies to freeze and save for a rainy day. Nothing better than pulling out homemade apple pie on a Sunday afternoon to eat while watching Enchanted, one of my favourite rom-coms.


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