Objective: I can apply a variety of pastry techniques to bake a delicious apple pie.

My friend Terry made an apple pie today. I was the pie-coach. She did a great job!  It turned out beautifully! We documented in case anyone doubted her abilities (ahem).  It was great to return to the lovely kitchen where Tlacuache and I assisted in baking our own wedding cakes last spring.

We will see how it tastes tomorrow, but we did get to sample the pastry with a little scrap made into an empanada with cinnamon, sugar and butter, and it was rich and flaky.   It tasted sweet and tangy, and the crust was buttery and flaky, a classic!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, now get to work and bake this pie.

Here are some tips that will really help produce a great pastry:

1. Cut up your butter and freeze it for at least an hour, if not more.
2. Place your pie plate (glass) into the freezer ahead of time, until you need it.
3. Don’t use a food processor– use a pastry cutter (by hand), or the paddle attachment on a mixer on low speed.
4. Get everything you need out before you get covered in flour and butter (ok, we kind of didn’t do a very good job of this, but that is why we know it is true). Including a plastic bag for the reserved dough, knives for trimming, rolling pins, etc.
5. Don’t try to do anything else while making pie– no multi-tasking.

Pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon has a lot of other great tips too, and a great recipe for an all-butter crust (shortening is very bad for us, and not as flavorful) that is as flaky as ever.  It is from a book called The  Baker’s Dozen, a cookbook that took 10 years to make, with contributions from dozens of world-renowned chefs.   The background from the publisher explains:

“At the first meeting of The Baker’s Dozen, forty people showed up with forty lemon meringue pies. The topic of the meeting was weeping and shrinking meringues and how to prevent them from happening… ”

I know cookbooks require multiple people testing recipes, but this is more like the bakers general assembly planning to take over the world.  And they have taken over our pies so far…

Another impressive thing about this pie crust recipe is that it doesn’t require chilling– I assume because of the frozen butter, ice water, and cold pie plate.  Something about everything beginning to cook at the same rate, instead of butter melting before flour begins to toast.

Deep Dish Apple Pie

adapted from Shuna Fish Lydon and The Bakers Dozen

Crust:

2 cups All Purpose Flour (King Arthur)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into pieces and frozen

4-5 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

5 or 6 large apples, or 7-8 small

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tablespoons flour

fresh nutmeg to taste

1/2 tsp orange zest

juice of 1/2 lemon

Freeze the butter in chunks.  Freeze the pie plate.  Put water in a cup with ice and allow it to chill while you start the dough.

In a large mixer bowl combine flour, salt, sugar and mix on low with the paddle attachment.  While it is turning, gradually add the butter.  Mix on low until it starts to break up into the standard “pea-sized” bits.  Do not over mix or get distracted.  Once it is at this stage, begin to add the water one tablespoon at a time.  It will start to resemble clumpy wet sand, but it SHOULD NOT “come together” and you do not want to mix it long enough to let it form a ball.  As soon as it starts to clump on the paddle, turn it off.

Dump the mess of crumbly dough on your floured board.  Use your hand and a pastry scraper to gather it into two hockey puck shaped disks, one slightly larger than the other.  Do not handle the dough for more than 2 minutes when you do this.  (Humans are warm-blooded, we melt butter when we hold onto it).  From the moment we touched it, we noticed the dough felt cold.  It will not be homogenized, and that is good for making flaky tender crust.

Refrigerate the small disk.  Flour a rolling pin, and roll out the dough by pushing the pin at the center of the dough and out, always in one direction (away from you).  After a couple passes, rotate the dough do it doesn’t stick.  Do not roll it back and forth, push from the center and rotate the dough, do you can evenly spread it.  Dont worry about rough edges, or asymmetry, just worry about not over working it, and getting it an even thickness, big enough to cover the pie plate.  You should see smears of butter in it, and that is good.

Get out your pie plate.  Roll the dough up on the roller, like a paper towel.  Place your plate where the dough once was, and unroll it into place.  Very gently ease the pastry down into the dish.  Trim the edges a little.  Place it in the refrigerator.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (don’t do this until now, as you want your kitchen cold while handling dough).

Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks.  I have seen pies made of thin slices of apple stacked very high, but you would have to cook your pie much longer to get apples this densely packed to be tender.  The air that is created in the spaces between the chunks of fruit allows the fruit to steam.  Mix the flour, sugar, spices and lemon juice with the apples.  Let them sit in the bowl while you make the top crust so as to macerate the apples and bring out the juices.

Roll out the top crust.  Pour apples into the bottom crust, top with a few pats of butter.

Unroll top crust onto the pie. Trim edges.  Repair any holes by brushing with milk and applying a patch from trimmed crust.  Flute the pie by crimping the edges together by using the thumb and index finger of the hand you favor to pinch, and the index finger of your other hand to press the crimped edge against (see pictures). Cut slits in the top for steam to escape.  Brush the whole thing with milk if you like, for a golden color.

Place the pie on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Drape a piece of foil over the whole pie.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil.  Bake an additional 20-30 minutes.  Allow it to cool before serving.  Get ready to brag about how you made an apple pie from scratch!

My mama taught me to make pie, in the 9th grade I think, at the house on Columbus Street.  Who taught you to make pie?  What is your favorite kind?  What tips do you have for pie making?

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