November 25, 2009

Apple Pie

(Updated 1.8.22) Apple pie making is one of those few talents in life I feel complete confidence in, and maybe am even a little braggy about-- just ask my sister. We used to have an annual "Apple Weekend" during which we picked apples and cooked and baked a whole bunch of dishes with them, culminating in a decadent feast at the end of the day. We of course had to make it a competition and there was always an apple pie competition as the dessert. My sister, our good friend, and I were usually the three bakers and while there were very nice touches in their two pies each year, mine always won in the blind taste test and voting that we subjected our whole families to. (I don't think I ever won the savory dish competition, so there's a little humility from me on this subject.) 

Anyhow, I use my King Arthur pie pastry recipe always always. I took a pie class there years ago and that recipe is a real winner. So good. Another key is a generous amount of apples, a generous amount of sugar, and plenty of cinnamon-- a few shakes is not enough; I thoroughly coat the apples. The final touch is to brush the whole crust with an egg-white wash. This I think helps it crisp up and have that beautiful golden-brown look. Then I sprinkle-- again generously-- the whole thing with large sugar sprinkles, crystallized sugar. You really have to try this pie. :)   

Apple Pie

King Arthur Pie Pastry, ready to be rolled out 
about 14 Macintosh apples (I levelly fill a large mixing bowl with them)
1 C sugar, heaped 
1/4 C flour, heaped 
lots of cinnamon 
egg-white wash (one egg white with a tiny bit of water whisked in)
crystallized sugar 

To prepare filling, peel and slice a bunch of apples. (You can do this by hand but I have really enjoyed this contraption we have that suctions to the countertop and peels, cores, and slices all at once. Check out video above of my six-year-old in action using it.) The right amount will mound in pie plate so I find it is right to fill to the brim a reasonably large bowl with peeled sliced apples. Toss with sugar, flour, and a generous amount of cinnamon. If it doesn't have a nicely coated brownness throughout, sprinkle with more cinnamon. (I usually add more cinnamon, stir and check how coated it is a few times.) 

Remove one of two chilled rounds of pie pastry from the fridge. Roll on a floured surface from the center outward till it's larger than your pie plate. You have to dust the top and underneath it with flour a few times in the process so it doesn't stick. Fold in half, then in half again-- OR roll it up loosely on your rolling pin. Then lift and place centered in pie plate. Press down a bit in pie plate. If you'd like to, trim edges so they don't hang down more than about an inch or so. (I don't trim; extra crust in certain spots around the edge won't be a problem.) 

Add apple filling. 

Roll out second crust and place on top of pie in the same way. Trim the edges if desired (again, I don't), making sure the top crust remains a little longer than the bottom crust. Fold the top crust so it's wrapped around and tucked under the bottom crust. Pinch or seal all the way around in some way. (My favorite method is this: Hold thumb and index finger of left hand above the pie just inside the perimeter. With the forefinger of my right hand held vertical 90 degrees to the pie, push the crust perimeter in toward the middle of the pie between the two left-hand fingers. Continue this every inch or so all the way around the pie. 

Brush whole top crust with the egg-white wash with a pastry brush, then sprinkle liberally with crystallized sugar. Make 5 or 6 cuts with a sharp knife toward the top center of the pie for steam to escape. 

Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet in case of leakage and bake at 350 for about 1 hour till beautifully golden, turning partway through the baking time. Let cool up to several hours-- but it is by far the best when eaten the day you make it!

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