Monday, December 3, 2012
My Apple Pie
When I started writing Blue Kale Road, part of my motivation was to compile family recipes for my boys, the recipes they are growing up with and may want to take with them. I guess it’s my way of passing down a treasure of 3x5 cards with handwritten recipes. Next year, Sam is going to college, and while he’ll be living in a dorm he may have access to a kitchen occasionally and want to make something homemade. My repertoire of favorite meals is on my mind now, simple food like meatloaf, veggie frittatas, roasted potatoes, lemon pepper chicken and glazed salmon – staples for our weeknights and dishes that in the coming months I want to include here.
Today, though, is about apple pie. While not a regular part of our weekly eating, it is a favorite for Sam and Isaac (and Bob and me!) and a collection of Mom’s recipes wouldn’t be complete without it.
As they say, many hands make light work and this was certainly true the night before Thanksgiving when my mother-in-law Mary, Sam, Isaac, Bob and I all gathered in our little kitchen together to peel and slice apples. We stayed up late chatting and laughing, while seeing who could get the longest strip of apple peel.
This year, in preparing for major pie baking, I made my pie crusts ahead of time, rolled and arranged them in pie plates. I wrapped them up and popped them in the freezer, making it easy to assemble pumpkin, sweet potato and apple pies at the last minute. Since I was baking lots of pies for the holiday, I didn’t have enough pie plates for all of them at once and used a spring form pan for the apple pie.
After tossing the apples with flour, sugar and a bit of cinnamon, I left them to macerate overnight since it was too late at night to bake the pie and I needed some sleep. In the morning, I pulled the crust from the freezer, poured the apples in and slid the pie into the oven. It couldn’t have been easier and I must say I loved the shape of the pie baked in the spring form and will continue to do it this way.
I didn’t get a chance to take photos on Thanksgiving evening since we dove into the pies with gusto, so I had to bake another one. I know, it’s tough. There’s nothing like greeting the boys after school with the heavenly scent of an apple pie just out of the oven! Is there anything more cozy and homey than apple pie? I don’t think so.
The flaky crust enveloped warm, soft apples that melted in our mouths. I enjoy apple pie as is, but a dollop of whipped cream would be welcome, too. If you want to try a creative twist on whipped cream, check out my friend Erina’s delightful curry whipped cream – it is a part of her winning dessert for Kitchen Circus, and I do think curry and apples pair nicely together.
I hope Sam and Isaac will carry many happy memories from the kitchen, and perhaps having our family recipes at their fingertips will help them along the way.
Serves 8 (or 4 of you’re a teenage boy!)
2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, dice the 2 sticks of butter and keep well chilled
4 tablespoons ice water
10 apples (roughly 4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/16th slices (I use a combination of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream to brush on crust
Turbinado sugar to sprinkle
Have a spring form pan or pie plate ready. To make the crust, be sure your ingredients are well chilled. Rose Levy Berenbaum even suggests putting your flour in the freezer to chill before beginning and I’ve started doing it. Also, dice your butter and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
In the bowl of your food processor, pulse 2 1/2 cups flour with the salt a few times. Add the diced 1/2 pound (2 sticks) of butter and pulse until the butter resembles small peas. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and pulse to see if the dough comes together. Pinch a small piece to test. If it still seems dry, add another tablespoon.
When the dough comes together, turn it out onto your lightly floured counter. Gently form the dough into a ball and cut it in half. Using a rolling pin, roll one ball of dough into a round to fit your pan (if using a spring form, the dough should come up about 1 1/2 inches on the side). Fit the dough in, cover with plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer. Roll the second ball of dough into a ring to fit the top of the pie. Place it on a small cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pop into the freezer on top of the spring form pan. You now have crust ready to use whenever you’d like! If you will be baking your pie right away, you can place the crusts in the fridge to chill until ready to use.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss to mix and coat the apples. Set aside to macerate for about an hour (or cover overnight).
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pull your crusts out (if from the freezer, pull the top crust out about 20 minutes earlier to give it time to soften a bit). Pour the apples and collected juiced into the pie pan and press/arrange the apples so they fit snugly. Dot the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Lay the top crust on and seal the edges. Brush a bit of cream over the top to help brown and sprinkle a little turbinado sugar on top. With a small knife, cut a few slashes in the crust as steam vent.
Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and pop it in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour, 20 minutes, until the apple filling is bubbling thickly and the top is browned nicely. Let cool for about half an hour to let the juices collect before serving. If desired, dollop with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I think apple pie is best served the day it is baked, but it certainly will keep well if made a day ahead and kept loosely covered at room temperature.