Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Apple Pie (From Scratch)

An apple pie is a fruit pie in which the principle filling ingredient is apples. The apple pie is one of a number of American icons that dates back to the eighteenth century. There are a few things that spell Autumn more clearly that a fresh home-made apple pie. Being that Fall/Autumn is finally here, my oven door will be as busy as cab doors with  a rotation of baked goodies going in and out. I will spread the love by sharing all these recipes with you. And since Thanksgiving and Christmas are also just around he corner, I'll share recipes to cover both holidays as well. If  you'll be cooking for a crowd or just for two, I have you covered. For now, here's an apple pie recipe....
NOTE: Double the pie crust recipe below as this apple pie recipe calls for a top and bottom pie crust.
Pie crust recipe follows:

-Fork or pastry cutter.
-medium mixing bowl.
-Cling Foil.

Ingredients for the pie crust:
-2 cups all-purpose flour.
-3/4 teaspoon salt.
-2/3 cup shortening or sweet cream butter (cubed and chilled).
-4-6 tablespoons ice water.
-1/2 teaspoon distiller white vinegar.

Instructions For Making Your Pie Crust:
-Sift the flour and salt into a medium mixing bowl.
-Cut the shortening/ butter into the flour/salt mixture using the pastry cutter or the tines of a fork,until the pieces of butter form a coarse meal the size of peas, in the flour (see demonstration in the video).
-Combine the vinegar and water in a separate small bowl (Gluten is a protein found in flour, that is activated once a liquid is added to flour. It is responsible for giving dough/ batter it's stretchy charecteristic . The vinegar used in this recipe helps shorten the strands of gluten in your dough, resulting in a flaky pie crust).
-One table spoon at a time, sprinkle the water/vinegar mixture into the flour, until the dough starts to come together and almost cleans the sides of the bowl. Once you are able to squeeze the dough into your hands without it crumbling into pieces, your dough is ready for the next step.
- Damp your dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gather it into a ball. 

NOTE:  if you're making a double batch of this pie crust, at this point divide your dough equally into two parts, wrap each part tightly in cling foil .
-Tightly cover the ball of dough with cling foil, flatten the ball of dough into a disc shape and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
-When ready to use, roll out the dough using a rolling pin, drape the dough in your pie plate and follow your pie recipe instructions.
-Alternatively, you can store your dough in the freezer (tightly wrapped in cling foil and placed in a freezer bag) for up to three months. When ready to use, unthaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight the day prior to using it.
Note: if you are making a pie that requires a top and a bottom crust, please double the ingredients called for in this recipe.

Apple Pie Filling Ingredients:
-3 lbs. baking apples eg. Braeburn,Granny Smith, Bramley, Empire, Pink Lady, Mutsu etc. (basically, any apple that is crisp).
-1/3 cup brown sugar (firmly packed).
-1/3 cup regular granulated sugar.
-2 tablespoons tapioca starch, cornstarch or all-purpose flour (for thickening the filling).
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to help keep the apples from browning).
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional).
-1/4 teaspoon salt (to balance the flavors).
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed or thinly sliced (to dot over your filling).
-1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water, beaten (this is egg wash. You'll brush it over your pie crust).
-1 tablespoon sugar (for sprinkling over your top crust).

Instructions For Preparing the Filling:
-Peel and core your apples and cut into thin wedges (use a sharp pairing knife or mandolin slicer for this).
-Place the sliced apples In a large bowl and toss in the brown and granulated sugars, lemon juice , thickeners (tapioca starch, cornstarch or all-purpose flour), cinnamon and cardamom. Toss the apples in this mixture to coat them we'll. Cover the mixing bowl and set aside. 
-Working with one piece of wrapped dough at a time, place the unwrapped dough on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour your rolling pin and roll the dough out into a round that is 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 of an inch in thickness (see video). If your dough is too hard to roll, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes until it is easier to roll.
-Dust off any excess flour from the pie crust using a pastry brush. 
-Drape your rolled out dough onto your rolling pin (as shown in the video) and transfer it onto your pie plate. Gently drape the dough over the pie plate and gently fit it into the bottom and sides of the dish. 
-Trim the dough hanging over the plate with a pair of kitchen scissors and make sure to leave an overhang of about 3/4 to 1/2 inch. Place the pie plate back in the refrigerator.
-Meanwhile, using a colander, drain your apples and collect the juices. 
-In a medium pan,  place the juices you collected and heat the pan over medium heat until the juice reduces (thickens) into a caramel like consistency.
-Remove your pie plate from the fridge and scoop the drained apples into the pie plate. 
-Drizzle the thickened apple juices over the apples in the pie dish.

***Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit***

-Dot the apple filling with the cubed/sliced butter that you had set aside. Return to the refrigerator as you roll out the top crust.
-Roll out the top pie crust following the same procedure you used for your bottom pie crust.
-Center the top crust over your apple filling.
-Trim the dough so that it is even with the bottom crust. Reserve the scraps of dough to use for garnishing your pie (optional).
-Fold the overhang of the top crust under the overhang of the bottom crust (see video), then press together lightly to seal. Flute the edge decoratively (crimping. See video).
-Cut a few slits in a decorative pattern in the center of the top crust.
-Using a cookie cutter dipped in some all-purpose flour, make decorative patterns with the leftover scraps of  dough and set aside.
-Brush the top crust of your pie with the egg wash, and gently stick your decorative cut outs on the crust. Sprinkle the top crust with some sugar.
-Pace the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills.
-if you have a crust protector (see video), place one on the pie to prevent your pie crust edges from burning. If you don't have one, carefully and loosely wrap some aluminum foil around the edges of the pie.
-Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for around 45 minutes.
-When the crust is golden brown, the juices in the pie are bubbling and a knife inserted into one of the slits on the pie meets no resistance from the apple filling, your pie is done. A good crust should be flaky and give a crunchy sound when cut into.
-Transfer over to a wire rack to cool. 
Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be enjoyed on it's own or adorned with a scoop of vanilla ice cream-Devine!!