It seems appropriate that I would start off this newest category of my blog – Travel-Inspired Baking – with a recipe that originated in the husband’s homeland but which my homeland likes to claim as its own. (As American as apple pie… Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet… and all that.)
Travel-related apple pie tale: The first time the husband and I visited England together, back when he was just “the boyfriend,” we had our famous apple pie incident. We had gone to his grandmother’s for a traditional cooked lunch. For dessert, she brought out her homemade apple pie and served us each a piece. She then ducked back into the kitchen for something and I tucked straight into the pie. (Note: In the intervening years I have developed better manners and now would wait for her to return before stuffing my face.) Seconds after the fork left my mouth, I stopped, mid-chew, alarmed. “Your grandma forgot to add the sugar!” I said in a panicked whisper, worrying about the possibility of undiagnosed dementia in my future grandma-in-law, not to mention the genetic ramifications for my intended. The future husband busted out laughing at my ignorance. “We don’t put nearly as much sugar into our pies here,” he reassured me, adding that the English tend to use decidedly sourer Bramley apple for baking. Relieved that grandma hadn’t made a senility-related baking gaffe, I choked down the remainder of the tart pie, happy that I would soon be returning to a country that knows desserts are meant to be sweet.
Classic Double-Crust Apple Pie
Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart’s
Prison Survival Guide Baking Handbook
Level of Difficulty: low
Time Consumption: moderate, but the patê brisée (crust dough) can be made ahead of time and frozen, if desired
Kitchen Destruction: moderate (expect some flour-related mess, and if you use a mechanical apple peeler, as I did, juice and apple bits will go flying every which way)
A pet rabbit is more than a furry companion. It is also a four-legged compost bin:
Wow Factor: low (your guests will appreciate it, but it’s not like they haven’t seen an apple pie before… most will probably have made one), but you can up the wow factor by turning the extra dough bits into leaves or other decorative flourishes
Ingredients for the patê brisée:
- 2½ C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 sticks (1 C) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- ¼ C ice water, more if needed
Directions for the patê brisée:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour & salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, use a pastry blender to cut in the butter.)
With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet/sticky. Don’t process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it’s still too crumbly, add more water, one TBS at a time.
Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to one month; thaw overnight in refrigerator before use.
Ingredients for pie:
- 3 TBS all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 recipe patê brisée
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 TBS heavy cream
- 3 lbs apples (such as Macoun, Granny Smith, Cortland, Jonagold, Empire, or a combination), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼” slices
- 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
- ¼ C granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 TBS unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- granulated sugar for sprinkling
Directions for pie:
On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one disk of the dough to a 12″ round. Sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9″ glass pie plate, pressing it into the edges. Trim to a ½” overhang all around. Roll out remaining dough disk in the same manner; transfer dough via parchment to a baking sheet. Chill pie shell and dough round until firm, about 30 minutes.
In small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream; set aside egg wash. In large bowl, toss together apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Arrange in pie shell; dot with butter.
Brush the rim of the pie shell with egg wash; place dough round on top. Gently press the top and bottom pieces of dough together to seal. Trim the top piece of dough to a 1″ overhang all around. Tuck dough under, crimping edges as desired. Brush the entire surface of the pie with egg wash.
(If desired, cut dough scraps into leaves or other decorations. Lay onto pie crust and brush with egg wash.)
Cut 3-4 vents in the top to allow steam to escape. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F, with the rack in the lower third.
Place pie on parchment (or Silpat®) lined baking sheet. Bake until crust turns golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350°F. Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and have thickened, 40-50 minutes more. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. Best eaten the day it’s baked, but can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to two days.*
*Bull. You can stick it in the fridge and it will last longer than two days. If Martha thinks the two of us can polish off an entire pie in two days, she’s even crazier than someone who doesn’t hand-craft her own wedding invitations.
Confessions of an Imperfect Baker:
- I ran out of egg wash and ended up brushing the leaves with just heavy cream because I just couldn’t be bothered to crack another egg. This may be why the leaves darkened more than the crust around it.
- I missed a step! I forgot to freeze the pie for 30 minutes before baking. I don’t think the taste or texture was affected, but maybe this is why the leaves got extra dark???
Bonus Recipe: No pet rabbit garbage disposal? You can use your leftover apple peels to make Apple Peel Tea. (The husband would like it noted that this was his suggestion.) Once the bunny was sated, that’s exactly what I did – it was easy and tastes like a less-sweet version of apple cider, though the maker has control over how sweet it is. Sound boring? Add Butterscotch Schnapps.