(Another) Apple Pie and FANTASTIC crust!

January 26, 2011

This blog needs more pie! So how do I remedy the situation? By making apple pie. The problem? The only other pie on this blog, made by my own two hands, is ALSO an apple pie.

I could argue all day that the pies are totally different (They are! One is vegan and gingerbread and single crust and one is double crust and all butter and butterscotch-y!), that my adapting a pear pie recipe makes up for the fact that they are both apple pies, but, meh. You’d probably get bored. I’m taking my chances and hoping that everyone is really fond of apple pie, and that everyone accepts my apologies for being a smidge redundant, because this pie is pretty awesome.

First things first, the piecrust! There are a lot of piecrust failures in my past, so many that it would be embarrassing to recount them all. Finally, though, I think I’ve found my go-to all butter crust recipe. It was painless enough for me, lacking a food processor and being the most impatient dough roller around, and delicious enough to impress those people sitting around my table for dessert.

The filling recipe was meant for pears, but I couldn’t resist the call of butterscotch. I also had a bunch of empire apples in the fridge, which are really sweet compared to the normal choice for apple pie, the Granny Smith apple, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. Then I figured a tablespoon of scotch wouldn’t hurt. Let me tell you, it didn’t hurt a bit. The bottom layer of crust ended up slightly soggy, but I couldn’t tell if that was because of the extra liquid ingredients in the filling, my pulling it out of the oven too soon on account of baking time paranoia, or some zealous dough rolling. Sliced, the pie held up fine, with no extra liquid to speak of, so who knows? It wasn’t as sweet and syrupy as I like my apple pie, but everyone assured me the pie was delicious.

And don’t mind what looks like tire tread on my pie. You ever get the feeling that no matter how careful you are, there’s always room for more carelessness? Yeah. I baked the pie with the pie chain coiled on the crust, thinking about nothing, apparently, and then had to peel it off ever so slowly and carefully. It’s okay to laugh, as I did for a good thirty minutes. “Texture” is what my roommate calls it.

All-Butter Pie Crust

(Recipe taken from this post on Smitten Kitchen. I suggest you read what she has to say on the subject, you can tell she put a lot of effort into making this recipe, well, effortless. Thank you!)

Yields enough dough for one double crust pie in a 9 inch pie plate, or two single crust pies. There was enough dough left over that you could probably use a 10 inch pie plate. If they even make those.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very cold

Method:

1. Fill a liquid measuring cup with one cup of cold water, then either put a few ice cubes in the cup or stick it in the freezer until you need it for this recipe, less than 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, large enough for all the ingredients with enough space in the bowl left over to work the ingredients, whisk or stir together the flour, sugar, and salt, until the ingredients are incorporated.

3. Dice the sticks of butter into ½ inch cubes, then sprinkle them over the flour mixture.

4. Using a pastry blender, hopefully, or two steak knives if you were me two days ago, cut the butter into the flour mixture making sure to redistribute and move ingredients around in the bowl in order to get equal incorporation. Work the butter into the flour until the pieces are the size of peas, which won’t take a long time. Stop when you reach this point, and don’t panic, the dough will look uneven.

5. Grab the cup of ice water you set aside earlier, remove the ice cubes if you added them, and drizzle ½ cup of it over the dough. Using a super sturdy spatula, gather the dough together. This step reminded me of the folding motion, except using more force. Add the additional water one tablespoon at a time, until you begin to pull large pieces of the dough with the spatula. You won’t use the entire cup of water. I had two tablespoons water left over.

6. Using your hands, gather the dough pieces together into a single mound and knead it gently to get a ball of dough. You don’t want to knead too much, because the warmth of your hands will melt the butter chunks and that’s a no-no. The more visible butter, the flakier the crust.

7. Divide the dough in half, form two discs, then wrap them separately in plastic wrap. If you plan on using the dough more than a day after making it, double wrap the discs to avoid unwanted smells from your fridge or freezer.

8. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, but preferably 2 or more, before rolling out. The dough will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week. If you froze the dough, keep it in the fridge for a day to defrost before rolling out.

For rolling tips, see this post from Smitten Kitchen. She makes everything better. The two most important tips I got from the post were to be VERY generous with the flour, and to pick up the dough and rotate it after ever few rolls.

Apple Butterscotch Pie

(Recipe adapted from the Pear Butterscotch Pie on the Gourmet website)

Yields enough to fill a 9 inch pie crust

Ingredients:

Enough dough for a double crust pie (though you could make it a single crust, if the urge or necessity strikes)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

pinch of salt

½ cup packed brown sugar (if using light, add an extra tablespoon of molasses to the apples)

2 ¼ to 2 ½ pounds (8 smallish, palm size Empire apples) apples, peeled, cored, and sliced to the thickness of your choosing (I cut mine haphazardly, yielding some thin slivers and some thicker, ½ inch slices)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 generous tablespoon scotch, whiskey, or bourbon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large egg, beaten with a tablespoon of warm water

Method:

1. Lightly butter and flour a pie plate. Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees F.

2. Combine flour, spices, and salt and stir to distribute ingredients evenly. Whisk in the brown sugar, breaking up any brown sugar lumps you come across.

3. In a large bowl, toss the flour mixture with the sliced apples, lemon juice, vanilla extract, alcohol of choice, and molasses (if using). Stir until all apples are evenly coated, and let them sit for up to 15 minutes, to macerate the fruit.

4. Roll out both discs of dough for the pie plate. Trim each dough circle to 12-inch diameter circle, and place one in the pie plate, pressing it against the sides and letting a little hang over the edges. On the other one, cut three or four little vents and use this as the top crust.

5. Transfer the apple filling to the pie plate already fitted with the bottom dough layer and dot the top of the apples with pieces from the two tablespoons of butter.

6. Place the dough for the top crust over the filling, and press the two layers of dough overhang together. Fold the overhang over, underneath the top crust layer, and kind of shove it into the sides of the pie plate. Do some decorative crimping. Again, read this post.

7. Bake pie on the preheated baking sheet for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven to 375 degrees F and bake the pie another 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. I fashioned a tin foil ring for the edges of the pie and put that on after reducing the temperature, so the edges would not burn.

8. Let the pie cool for 2 to 3 hours, or until room temperature, before serving. If need be, warm it up in a 200 degree oven, covered in foil, for 15 minutes.

This pie is best the day it is made, but lasts fairly well for a day at room temperature, and three days in the fridge, kept in an airtight container. The crust will be a little soggy, but definitely edible!

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