This post provides the first slice of what will come, over the next month of trials and taste tests in my apple pie education. I decided to begin by attempting a traditional butter crust apple pie, bubbling with cinnamon and tart apples. Doesn't look too shabby, right? Think again.
Despite ample warning, I convinced myself that it's best to begin with the hardest and work from there...I struggled a bit with the actual making of the butter pie crust, the first crust of this kind I've attempted. Exercising too much restraint can be a bad thing- especially when it's witholding the last few drizzles of water that help along the 'pea sized' crumbles become a workable dough. But darn it, I had my dough and I wasn't going to waste it. There were flour and dough bits on my hands, face, floor and counter tops but somehow, not enough to assemble a truly spectacular, crimp-able dough.
After picking up the non-ball of dough like dog poo in my saran wrap and launching it into the fridge, I found that refrigeration, and the warmth of a baker's hand can't work miracles. Or my work surface would look less like a doughy flour hurricane hit it.
LESSON #1: Don't underestimate the dough making process, or the temperature and quantity of each ingredient therein. Note to self: exert deftness in working with cold dough, and patience in the transportation process from counter to pan, as evidenced here.
I'm already eagerly anticipating the shortening dough trial!
The apples, referenced in my previous post, were a delicious surprise. Two mildly tart options- Mutsu and Jonathan- proved a perfect foil for the flour-sugar-cinnamon-spices coating. I will definitely continue with this mixture, perhaps adding more apples to the sauce next time and experimenting a bit more beyond just lemon juice. Behold the final product:
I could have taken more pleasure in the fact that the pie at least came out with a golden glow (thanks Ben for the milk tip!), and that we did manage to clean our plates.
For me, though, I found the truest pleasure in baking something complicated from scratch, from the smell of a butter crust cooling on the counter and adding a certain coziness to the air of a football-filled Sunday. And of course, the best part of cooking from scratch is having that 'resident taste tester' there to provide plenty of hunger-fueled support...and if I'm lucky, mop up that flour-coated floor, too.
F&W's Grace Parisi's 'Perfecting Apple Pie' Recipe:
2 1/2 cups flour, plus 1/4 cup flour for filling
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, plus 1 tbs butter for filling
1/2 cup ice water
6 large apples (Food and Wine recommends Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Golden Delicious), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tbs lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Combine flour, salt and unsalted butter. Pulse in food processor until small 'pea size' balls form, drizzle in water until evenly moistened crumbs form. Shape into a ball, divide in half and refrigerate until firm.
Toss peeled and cored apple pieces with lemon juice, the remaining 1/4 cup flour and sugar, plus cinnamon and spices (I would recommend more than the recipe calls for here).
Roll out dough and fill pie pan with the first half of the dough, the apple mixture, then cover with second half of dough. Be careful to seal and crimp the edges of the pie, and poke holes in the crust to allow the steam to vent during the cooking process.
Bake pie 1 hour 10 minutes at 375 degrees or until crust is golden brown. Let stand up to four hours before serving.