Monday, October 10, 2005

Apple Pie!

If someday I had to choose a pie it would definitely be apple! I like apples a lot, and during the cold months my favorite way to eat them is either cooked or baked. I love apple crisps (peach and blueberries too!) and cobblers, they are easy to make, warm and comfortingly good!
Since I have had a few disasters with pastry dough I settled myself into making crisps when I wanted some warm desert, and I actually prefer crisps to pie.
However, as challenging as it is, I wanted to make an apple pie this fall. So I went to the farmers market (one of my favorite places) last week to see what I could get and was faced with tons of apples, different varieties, from the tart to the most sweet ones. Needles to say I came back home with a full bag of yummy crispy apples, and some delicious apple cider too!
For eating raw I like the Fuji ones, they are crispy and crunchy, tart and sweet, kind of “cider-like” in taste, but for pies I wanted to have a mix of them, so I filled my bag with a couple of each of the ones that were said to be good in pies and hold their shapes, and there were so many varieties that I don’t even remember which ones I got!
I chose a recipe that was posted on the CL bulletin board, however the recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated. It is called Classic Apple Pie, and is actually not that difficult to make at all. I took my time and got all the right ingredients, made the dough and let it rest in the fridge overnight, Saturday morning I assembled the pie and baked, everything just as the recipe said. And the recipe is good, because I did not have one little bit of problem with the dough, and the pie came out great!

The only thing I did different was to omit the lemon zest (thought it would be too strong), the allspice (did not have), and the nutmeg (not a big fan of it in sweets). Also, I added a tablespoon of flour to the filling (because I was afraid the apples would give out their juices and make the pie wet), and brushed the top with milk instead of egg white. For everything else I followed the recipe and will do the same when I make it again, which is very likely so.
The crust was flaky and crispy and soft, and the apples came out nice, not mushy at all, just perfectly cooked, sweet and “cinnamonwy”! A good pie and I was very proud of myself because this was definitely my best pie of all!
Now I am going ask here a question for those who like to make and eat pies: I used vegetable shortening in the dough, but I am not a big fan of it myself (and now I am stuck with a whole can of the stuff leftover in the pantry). I saw recipes for pie dough that only used butter, but since most of them ask for a combination of butter and shortening I decided to try it this time. My question is: how is pie dough made only with butter? I know that the shortening makes it flaky, but how is it taste wise?
To be true… I don’t really care for the dough, what I like in the pie is the filling, so flakiness is not a big deal with me. I know taste is something very particular to each one of us, and that the best way to see the difference will be trying it myself, but I wanted to ask and see the different opinions in the subject, you know, it is nice to be able to talk to more people and get real reviews about foods you like.
Thanks for visiting and I hope you try the pie too!


Classic Apple Pie (Cook's Illustrated)
Serves 8

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening (chilled)
6 - 8 tablespoons water (iced)

Apple Filling
2 (cookbook says 1 1/2 pounds) pounds Granny Smith apples (4 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (4 medium)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest from 1 medium lemon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white , beaten lightly

1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor workbowl fitted with the steel blade. Add butter and pulse to mix in five 1-second bursts. Add shortening and continue pulsing until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, four or five more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl. (To do this by hand, freeze the butter and shortening, grate it into the flour using the large holes of a box grater, and rub the flour-coated pieces between your fingers for a minute until the flour turns pale yellow and coarse.)
2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Press mixture together with broad side of rubber spatula, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if dough will not hold together. Squeeze dough gently until cohesive and divide into two equal balls. Flatten each into a 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap separately in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.
3. Remove dough from refrigerator. If stiff and very cold, let stand until dough is cool but malleable. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 425 degrees.
4. Roll one dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of 9-inch Pyrex regular or deep dish pie pan. Unfold dough.
5. Gently press dough into sides of pan leaving portion that overhangs lip of pie plate in place. Refrigerate while preparing fruit.
6. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/2-to-3/4-inch slices and toss with 3/4 cup sugar and lemon juice and zest through allspice. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center. Roll out other dough round and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
7. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to almost room temperature, at least 4 hours.


Cathy said...

Hi Ana - your pie came out beautifully! What a nice blog, too!

Anonymous said...

Ana, your pie looks gorgeous..I could nearly feel its warmth. YOu blog is also shaping up beautifully. You have a lovely style, it is gentle, welcoming..
Keep up the good work I would say.


Joe said...

Hey Ana!

Your apple pie looks awesome! Great Job!

Anonymous said...

Ana, that pie looks fantastic! My mouth is watering. Nice blog.

Feetje said...

Loved the looks of the pie, but not a big fan of apples (actually, this is pretty much the only fruit i can't stand), but I may cook this pie for the upcoming visit of my mother-in-law since she is a huge fan of apple pie (if I make it right and impress, I'll let you know :o) ).
Little question, can I use the same foundation for a banana pie (yep, I love bananas).

Alysha said...

Hi Ana. I've made that same pie, but it's funny - what I thought made it different and interesting were all the ingredients you left out. ;)

As for a pie with an all butter crust - I like the taste better, but I find that an all butter crust loses its shape (any decorative touches you might add) really easily.

I like to avoid shortening if I can, but I have to admit that for certain things - certain cookies and pie crusts - it does make a difference.

To make it less objectionable for myself, I use Spectrum - it has no trans fats.

Your pie looks great! My son requested an apple pie and I keep forgetting to make one....better get on that soon.

Anonymous said...

Oi Ana
Parabens pelo blog é fantastico. Adoro tudo feito com maça. A minha filha estuda em Los Angeles e meu cunhado mora em Sterling, VA . Quando estive em Sterling, comi apple pie. Adorei!!!!
Vc teria a receita em portugues?

MelMelBabes said...

Hi Ana - Great Blog, and guess what, I have used that exact recipe since CI published it in 97! I love it!!!! Next time you make it add the zest, you won't be disappointed!

Look for a good Pâte Brisée recipe if you want an all butter crust. Another yummy crust if you ever want to try your hand at making an Apple Tart would be Pâte Sucrée. This dough is similar to pate brisee, but it is further enriched with egg yolks and more sugar. You will find both, if prepared properly, are just as tender and flaky as if you used shortening, actually, even better in my opinion!

The trick to using all butter is to keep it cold! Always make sure that every ingredient and utensil is cold. Put the bowl (with measured out flour), fork and pastry blender into the freezer for about 20 minutes or so before making the crust. Use ice water as well. For the cooks illustrated recipe there is no need to pre-bake the crust but it should be puled from the refrigerator just prior to assembling the pie.

Anonymous said...

Hello -

I’ve made the original recipe from the “Cooks Illustrated” cookbook. This is absolutely the best recipe ever. If one follows the steps exactly, which provides helps for an ‘all butter’ crust, everything is prize winning perfect. Stop trying to raise the bar on something that is above all bars.