Thursday, October 30, 2008

Apple-y Delicious!

I'm not a baker. Or so I thought. It's true, I've been converted. The Beanpole and I had both had lousy weeks with both being sick and not sleeping well and one of the best ways to combat that is good ol' comfort food. What's more comforting on a chilly fall day than hot apple pie and a cup of steaming cider? Exactly. I don't know either. Determined to make my own crust and the best apple pie possible I turned to none other than The Joy of Baking. And joyful it was! When The Beanpole went back for his second slice after inhaling the first and told me that we couldn't speak because it was "pie time" it was all worth it. The original instructions were a bit disorganized so I modified them below to clarify for us "non-bakers". Don't let the length of the instructions dissuade you! The recipe is really quite simple, just very descriptive...

Joy of Baking Apple Pie
Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry)
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
1 cup butter
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup ice water
Apple Filling
2 1/2 lbs apples (about 6 large), peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4" thick slices (I used 9 small-med apples)
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 light brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch

To really bring out the flavor of the apples macerate them (to bring out their juices) prior to baking. Combine apples through salt in a large bowl, stir, and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. While the apples are sitting, start on the pastry crust.

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, and butter, and pulse for 10-15 seconds until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Once combined, stream in water slowly until dough just holds together when pinched. Turn dough out onto a flat surface and gather into a little ball. Divide ball in half and flatten each half into a disk. Cover each with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Once apples have macerated for two hours, turn them into a strainer and place over a large bowl to capture juices. Let them drain for 15-30 minutes or until you have about 1/2 cup of juice in the bowl. While juices are draining, place your first disk of dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 12", working from the center and picking dough up and turning 1/4 with each roll to prevent sticking. Fold dough in half and gently place into pie pan, trimming any excess dough from around the edges. Cover with plastic wrap, return to refrigerator and remove second disk to take the chill off and return apples to bowl, saving juices. Meanwhile, spray a microwave-safe measuring cup with cooking oil. Pour in juices from apple mixture and add butter, microwaving for about 6-7 minutes until the mixture has reduced but about 1/3 and has thickened. Pour over apples, adding cornstarch, stir to combine, and pour into pie plate. Roll out second dough on a lightly floured surface and gently place on top of pie dish. If your pie dish has a ledge on which bottom crust is setting (mine didn't) brush lightly with water prior to adding top crust. Push dough together with fingers (to form the pretty ruffly edges) or crimp with a fork. Cut 5 small slices in top crust to allow steam to escape (this is what makes the pretty star on top!)

Place oven rack on lowest bars and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pie pan on a baking stone or a sheet pan to prevent the bottom from burning, and bake 40-50 minutes. Check the pie about 30 minutes in and cover the edges with foil to prevent burning. Once the pie is done baking, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool 3-4 hours. Serve pie warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped topping.

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