Apple Pie 2011 Edition

Apple pie is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving.  And since I made my first pie, I have been on a quest to perfect my recipe.  Last year I used the Cook's Illustrated pie crust with vodka and it was a good crust.  Its very easy, and if you follow the directions you can't mess it up.  Because it's so hassle-free its a great crust if you are making a lot or if you want to stock your freezer with homemade crust.  Over the past year I have used that crust for other pies and for pot pies the recipe is fine.  I like to make a bunch and have it handy for when I have leftover chicken.  

But for apple pie, especially apple pie that is being served on a holiday, I wanted a better crust.  I have experimented with a few recipes and I am please to say I have finally found one that is worthy of my Thanksgiving Apple Pie.  It is flaky, buttery and super tasty.  

Like most other pie crusts the key is keeping the ingredients cold.  I cannot stress this enough.  I will keep the butter and water in the freezer until I need it.  Not long enough to get frozen, but once I have the water measured and the butter cut, it goes in the freezer.
I used the same filling recipe from last year with one addition: lemon zest.   I really like how the zest reacts with the spices and helps to bring out the flavor of the apples.  Although the rest of the recipe is the same, the addition of the lemon makes a big difference.  One of the tricks to this recipe is the make sure the sauce has thickened.  You don't want it too runny.  It should coat the apples not still look like cider.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I wonder if I can have left over apple pie for breakfast?  It's kind of like a danish, right? 

Pate Brisee (Pie Dough)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water

In a food processor, pulse to combine flour and salt.  Add butter (keep in freezer until needed) and pulse until the mixture looks likes coarse crumbs.  With the machine running, add the ice water  through the feed tube (I usually keep the water in the freezer until this point to keep chilled) just until the dough is blended. Do not over process.  Remove the dough onto a clean work surface.  Divide in half and place each half on plastic wrap and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Can be frozen up to a month.  Makes enough for one double crust pie, or two single crust pies.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Apple Pie Filling
3 lbs. Granny Smith apples Smith
½  cup light brown sugar
¼  cup granulated sugar
1 ½  teaspoon cinnamon
¾  teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons corn starch
¼ cup apple cider

Peel, core and cut apples into about 1 inch thick slices. Place in a pot large enough to hold the apples with some extra room. Add the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, lemon zest and nutmeg to the apples. Stir the mixture to coat the apples. Dissolve the corn starch into the apple cider. Mix this into the apple mixture. Turn the heat onto medium to start cooking the apples. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the apples have softened and the sauce has thickened. Place the mixture in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until it is cool. Once the apple filling is cool, scoop it into a prepared pie shell, and cover the top with another layer of pie shell. Seal the two crusts together.  If desired coat the crust with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 40 to 50 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the crust looks golden.


Munatycooking said...

Very teasing pictures, looks like the caramelized apples are staring at me and wanting me to taste them. I'm hungry now :)

Ann said...

Truly a stunning pie and I agree....the colder the ingredients, the better the crust!

bananamondaes said...

What a beautiful crust you made. This looks so good - and I love the addition of the cider and lemon zest.

healthyfoodietravels said...

That's a perfectly pretty pie! I always over-stuff, and then my topping gets soggy or loses shape, haha.

Lo-mo said...

The pie is gorgeous! apple pie is the perfect ending to a meal! said...

What a beautiful pie! I especially love the leaves on the crust. Great touch!

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