Christmas Apple Pie

On December 26, 2010, in Desserts, by rita

As we were having Christmas lunch at my friends’ place, I wanted to make a dessert from scratch that her kids would like.  Since Apple pie, is one of their all time favorites, I decided that was it. Since I have made it only once before a few years back I was in need of a good recipe. After scouring the Internet my eyes fell upon this highly rated recipe on the foodtv.com website.  I decided to go with it along with my some of my own modifications. The results exceeded my expectations. It took a bit of effort, but it was all worth it, seeing the empty plates. Don’t get intimidated about the number of steps; I assure you it is well worth it. Have fun with it, just as I did.

My Modifications

As I like to make do with less fat wherever possible, I used 1 Tbsp. less of butter in the crust and in the filling. I added an extra half  pound of apples and a quarter spoon of lemon zest to bring out the zing of the apples. Also, while the recipe called for Granny Smith apples I also added a Pink Lady – a softer apple variety, to thicken the filling.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 13 tbsp cold butter diced
  • 1 large egg beaten with 2 tbsp cold water


Filling Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3.5 lbs granny smith apples. (about 7 granny smith and 1 pink lady)
  • 2/3 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling
  • 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest – optional

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean sized bits of butter.(If the flour/butter mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.)
  3. Add the egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl.If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon more of cold water over the mixture.
  4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.


Filling

  1. Put the lemon juice in a medium bowl.
  2. Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut each half into 4 wedges.
  3. Toss the apple with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and toss to combine evenly. We add lemon juice to avoid the browning of the apples due to oxidation.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the apples, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer, about 2 minutes.
  6. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the apples soften and release most of their juices, about 7 minutes.
  7. Strain the apples in a colander over a medium bowl to catch all the juice. Shake the colander to get as much liquid as possible.
  8. Return the juices to the skillet, and simmer over medium heat until thickened and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  9. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the reduced juice, cinnamon, lemon zest and nutmeg. Set aside to cool completely.
  10. Cut the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half of dough into a disc about 11 to 12 inches wide. Keep the other half in the refrigerator.
  11. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  12. Line the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan with one of the discs of dough, and trim it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. I had a 9.5 inch pan, and and adjusted the trim accordingly.
  13. Arrange the apple slices in a concentric manner, so that the pan is now filled. I interleaved the apple slices, to maximize the space of the pan.
  14. Take the remaining half od the dough from the refrigerator, and roll out a similar disk. Fold the top layer of dough under the edge of the bottom layer and press the edges together to form a seal. Flute the edge as desired. If you have extra dough, you can cut it into desired  shapes, and place it on top of the crust.
  15. Brush the surface of the dough with egg wash.
  16. Pierce the top of the dough in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. This is crucial to avoid an oven disaster!
  17. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  18. Bake the pie on a baking sheet until the crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Enjoy the aroma that will be wafting in the kitchen while the pie is baking. Hmmmm.
  19. Cool on a rack before serving. The pie keeps well at room temperature (covered)  for 24 hrs, or refrigerated for 4 days.

The Verdict

The crust was flakey and just right even with the lesser than recommended amount of butter I used. Adding the Pink Lady helped hold the filling together better. The filling was not runny. Pre-cooking the apples, helped fill the pie completely without leaving any air pockets. The lemon zest was not overpowering and helped bring out the sweetness of the apples. Sprinkling the sugar after baking helped avoid the brown streaks from caramelization typically seen on pie crusts.

Judging from the empty plates, the recipe was a success!

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