Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Apple π Day!

It's that day again. I feel a little bad for not having come up with something more clever this year, but I haven't ever posted an apple pie recipe anyway, so why not. Every baker has to master this at some point.

I loosely followed a recipe from Simply Recipes, except I made a different crust recipe and used half granny smith and half Braeburn apples. I also made sure I had enough filling and crust left over to make a batch of these li'l apple pie bites.

Vodka Pie Crust
Most recipes calls for part butter, part shortening, but my kitchen is an all butter kitchen...
Makes enough for a pie top and bottom.

- 2.5 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 sticks cold butter
- 1/4 cup cold vodka
- 1/4 cold water

Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar and then cut in the butter with a pastry blender, 2 knives, a food processor, or whatever your preferred method may be. Once the butter is about the size of peas, pour the liquid over and let it set for a minute to soak in. Gently knead the dough until it just comes together - don't over do it. Split in half, flatten into discs, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour or so, until firm.


Apple Pie Filling

- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (I grated it fresh)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 pounds of 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices of peeled and cored cooking apples
- 1.5 tbsp brandy
- 1 tsp vanilla

I had never made an apple pie with brandy or vanilla in it before - I have no problem whatsoever recommending those both in your mix! The aroma alone was divine.

So, I have this fancy table top device called an apple peeler/corer that is so easy to use (and makes the most amazing intact strings of apple skin you've ever seen!). It also slices the apples to just the right size for pie making purposes. I don't even make pies all that often, but would be completely sad to not have this device on hand for the few times I do; it's just that cool.

Anyway, once you've prepped your apples, however you choose to do that, put them in a large bowl and sprinkle the flours and spices over them, followed by the brandy and vanilla. I let this mix macerate for quite a bit while I worked on rolling out dough and sundry other multi-tasking chores. The smell is pretty intoxicatingly delicious, be warned.

So yes, at this point, you can roll out the dough if it has chilled long enough. Fit the bottom crust into your pie pan and trim the excess dough off the sides, and then fill the bottom crust with nice even, compact layers of apple slices. Be sure to fill it pretty high, as it will shrink down a bit once baked. Then roll out the 2nd piece of dough to make the top. To attach the top to the bottom crust, get your fingers wet with a little bit of water and run them along the seams before placing the top crust over the bottom. You can use a fork like I did to lightly squeeze the seams shut, or just use your fingers. I then carved a nice little π stamp into the top of mine (you should poke holes of some kind in the top to help with venting).

Now you can preheat your oven to 375˚ and pop this pie into the freezer until the oven is warmed up; It's just a nice way to make sure the butter is nice and solid before you pop it in the oven, ensuring a flakier crust. Bake for 15 minutes, and then drop the temperature to 350˚ and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown. If the edges are getting browned too quickly, you can cover them with a rim of aluminum foil. I typically put a layer of aluminum foil down below the pie while baking, just in case the juices ooze out. I got lucky this time and had no spills. It was quite a lovely pie. Tasty too, though I admit, the filling didn't come out in perfect slices. Guess I have more experiments to do after all, to truly perfect the apple pie.

Happy π Day!

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