Old-Fashioned American Apple Pie

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…for when you need something that screams “A-MUR-ICA!”.

A few friends were holding a housewarming and asked everyone to bring something from their native country. I certainly wasn’t going to bring hot dogs or ambrosia salad to a party full of people from all over the world now working together in Canada.  First thought = the apple pie. Not only did it give me an excuse to make a double crusted pie, but it’s also in season and the perfect time to make a dish that highlights wonderful apples.

The only way I’ve really ever enjoyed Apple pie, and these are where my fondest memories come from, is in a diner with my dad. He would eye the dessert counter right away, seeing the pies twirling near the cash register, sometimes skipping dinner entirely just to order a cup of coffee and a warm slice of apple pie with extra vanilla bean ice cream. It was times out like these that I got to know my dad, the time that I most enjoyed and looked forward to during the week. It was here that I got my love of coffee as well; from a very early age, I’d ask if I could have a sip here and there, eventually progressing to getting my own cup, despite the disapproving looks of the waitress. ‘Isn’t she too young for that?’ they’d ask my dad, to which he’d brush them off, assuring them it wouldn’t stunt my growth — I was already taller than all the other girls in my class.

This is the feeling I wanted to give in my pie at this party. In fact, these are the feelings and eventually memories that I want everyone who enjoys some of my baking to get. Whether it’s by using the recipes here in their own kitchen or maybe eventually having something from a little bakery on the corner that I opened, I want them to have the warmth and feelings that come from it.

I’ve had trouble with apple pies in the past: spongy bottom crust, way too much liquid in the middle, and sometimes tough crust on top. This time, I was set on success. This recipe is great for a few reasons: 1. buttermilk crust. So tender and an extra flavor zing 2. Non-runny middle. There are a couple of techniques and changes in this recipe that make it less runny and more caramel-y. Sign me up!

Apple pies are best when you use a combination of apples – it seems to give it more interesting sweetness in the end. I used a combination of Granny Smith and Fuji for this recipe. You can use a host of other ones, but make sure they are good for baking with.

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Recipe worked from Joy the Baker

For the Filing:

  • 2 1/2 lbs baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbls unsalted butter
  • 1 tbls plus 1 tsp cornstarch

For the Crust:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 (12 ounces) cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (5 to 6 ounces) buttermilk

Step One, The Crust:

Start by making the crust first. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt by pulsing a couple times. Cut the butter into cubes, and add to the food processor. Combine using pulses until it looks like coarse sand. It’s important not to over mix. Move the mixture to a large bowl and add the buttermilk. Combine until most of it is incorporated.

Divide the dough and make into two round disks. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for at least an hour, while you’re preparing the filing.

Step Two, Apples and Spices:

In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss to mix.  Allow the apples to macerate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes but no longer than 3 hours, by placing them in a stainer over a bowl. Make sure to catch all of the liquid that comes out of the apples.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep Three, Roll the Dough:

Once you are ready to move on to the next step, take out the dough disks from the refrigerator. On a well floured surface, roll the bottom crust 1/8 inch thick or less and place in pie pan.  Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan.  Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Step Four, Caramel:

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, boil down the apple spice liquid, with the butter to about 1/3 cup, or until you have what looks like a caramel. Make sure to swirl it instead of stirring the liquid. Meanwhile, transfer the apples to a bowl and toss them in the cornstarch.

Once the syrup is ready, pour over the apples, tossing gently.

Step Five, Fill the Pie:

*I didn’t roll out my dough thin enough as you see here. Make sure to really roll it out evenly. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Roll out the top crust large enough to cut a 12-inch circle. If you want to cut out shapes for steam ventilation, now is the time to do it. I used a little star cut out, but you can do whatever shape you want – just don’t cut out too much of the crust!

Transfer the apple mixture to the pie shell.  Moisten the border of the bottom crust by brushing it lightly with water and place the top crust over the fruit.  Trim the overhang of the top crust so that there is only 1/2-inch beyond the edge.  Tuck the overhand under the bottom crust boarder and press down all around to seal it.  Crimp the border using your fingers. If you didn’t do a shape cut out, use a knife to make 3-5 slits in the crust for steam.

Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour before baking. Don’t skip this step – this helps relax the dough, which ensures it maintains its shape.

Step Six, Bake:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F at least 20 minutes before baking.  Set oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on top of it before preheating.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil to catch any juices that may run during baking.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle sugar generously on the top of the crust.

Set the pie directly on the foil topped baking sheet, and then onto the baking stone, and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices bubble through the slashes and the apples feel tender. You may want to add foil around the edges of the pie crust to prevent burning – I added the foil in the beginning, which made it a little challenging to get it off, but worked just the same as adding it mid way through.

Col the pie on a rack at least 4 hours before cutting.

Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Or just eat it straight from the pan. I won’t tell.

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