Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cathy's Apple Pie

Cathy's Apple Pie

Classic apple pie
Hooray! Our daughter came home for a visit – Cathy, of the famed roasted radishes recipe (see blog 3/19/12). She has always, and I mean always, made our apple pie.  She has truly perfected the recipe and we usually make it at home, together – well what mother could ask for more? It has loads of daughter/mother and family love as well as apples, lemon, nutmeg and cinnamon. Perfect. She baked. I took pictures. Unfortunately it was nighttime before we got around to the pie – there was massage and manicures for daytime activities. Hence, the pictures are not as spectacular as I would have hoped. I really must get the fancy lighting I need. The pie tasted GREAT –well worth the effort.  Cathy is also a master at creating a lattice top – well, truth be told, she taught me.

I am usually an all-butter crust fan – easily exchanging flavor for flakiness and, like a lot of us, I’m pretty freaked out by shortening in general. I mean what is it – exactly? But, Cathy has been baking this scrumptious pie using a magical blend of both vegetable and butterfats. To compensate, I provided the butter-flavored vegetable shortening and Plugra – a rich European butter. This was so wonderfully rich that within minutes of hitting the warm oven, the unmistakable scent of buttery goodness hit the air.

Lattice-top Pie Dough
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 7 Tb vegetable shortening, chilled, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 10 Tb (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 8-10 Tb ice water

Pulse in a food processor: 3 C flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tb sugar until combined. Scatter 7 Tb shortening over the top and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter 10 Tb butter pieces over flour mixture, cut butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs with butter bits the size of small peas. Put mixture into a bowl.

Sprinkle 8 Tb ice water over mixture. With the blade of a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 Tb more of ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten pieces into 4-5 inch disks, wrap separately in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months before rolling.

Classic Apple Pie
  • 2½ lbs. McIntosh apples (5-6), peeled, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 lbs. Granny Smith apples (4-5), peeled, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¾ C plus 1 Tb sugar
  • 2 Tb all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Recipe Lattice-top Pie Dough (above)
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten 

Adjust oven rack to its lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500 degree F. Remove one piece of pie dough from refrigerator; let it stand at room temperature until malleable.

Roll dough on lightly floured work surface to 12” disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over a 9” pie plate. Working around the circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with the other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

Peel, core and cut 2½ lbs McIntosh and 2 lbs Granny Smith apples.  
Apple peeling!
Slices apples
Toss apple slices gently in a large bowl with 1 Tb fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp lemon zest. In a medium bowl, mix ¾ C sugar, 2 Tb flour, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp nutmeg, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Gently toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including all juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

Getting messy with the apples - the best utensil - your hands!
Ready for the pie
Roll out second piece of dough and follow directions for lattice top as described on previous blog: Summer Honey Caramel Peach Pie, posted 7/9/12. If a novice to lattice-top pies, a blog reader pointed me to an article in Fine Cooking, which has some great directions that could be helpful, particularly the photos/instructions on how to weave the lattice. See: http://www.finecooking.com/articles/making-lattice-top-fruit-pies.aspx. Brush the crust with the lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tb sugar.

Place pie on heated baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425 degree F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375 degree F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

Perfect lattice
The use of two different apples in the filling provided for both distinct but complementary flavors and texture. The combination of tart Granny Smith and sweet McIntosh creates the richest apple flavor. They also cook at different speeds, which makes for a multi-textured filling. For the crust to remain crispy, Cathy found it best to bake the pie first at very high temperature to bake the filling, while placing on a heated baking sheet, on the lowest rack, ensured the bottom remains crisp.

Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours before serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature; wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 2 days.  In our house, it would be a miracle if it lasted that long! Although traditionally served in fall and winter – apples are prevalent year-round, which leads to year-round baking and eating apple pies.  Enjoy!


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