Life of Pie, episod 2: American Apple Pie
I have unfortunately never been to the USA, so my (most likely mis-) conception of it comes from the movies and TV shows I've seen or from the books I've read. Considering the size of the country aswell as the number of states, this vision must be about as accurate as summing up France by just talking about Paris.
But some images, or should I even say clichés, seem just as american as can be. One of those is the apple pie. I guess I have this on my mind from some "Tom and Jerry" cartoon I watched growing up, with Mammy two Shoes backing a pie and leaving it to cool on the window counter, before Tom and Jerry start doing some kind of mayhem involving that pie.
Then, there is also that song "American Pie", which I shamefully admit, that I got to know this song from Madonna's version of (it's not an excuse, but I wasn't born in 1971). I catched up in the meantime, but I still like Madonna's version and video.
On a side note it's also a song that I really enjoy, because it's one of the few I can kinda play on my guitar and badly sing along to it, all the more fun (for me).
As I had a lot of fun with this month daring baker challenge, I used the week end to make the double crust apple pie. My only addition to the original recipe given below is that I did about half apple and half pears and added a bit of cinnamom to the filling.
So as the 4th of July is upon us, aswell as I wanted to chear americans on the historic week they've been thru, let's all be a little bit american today.
Double Crust Apple Pie:
Active time: 45 minutes altogether
Baking time: 50 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter
1¾ cups (420 ml) (250 gm) (8-2/3 oz) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon (10 ml) (10 gm) (1/3 oz) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
3-8 tablespoons (45-120 ml) cold water
1 – 1½ kg (2¼ to 3-1/3 pounds) apples (depending on the depth of your pie dish)
1 cup (240 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) light brown sugar, lightly packed (more or less to taste)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg and/or ginger (optional)
1 - 2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) (5-10 gm) white sugar for sprinkling (optional)
either 1 egg beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water, or 1 tablespoon milk
1. Weigh/measure out the correct amount of butter, wrap it in foil and freeze it for at least 30 minutes.
2. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl.
3. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter directly over the flour in the bowl. Hold the butter by the foil to avoid warming it up too much and work as quickly as possible.
Using a table fork, toss the grated butter in the flour until it's all coated.
Alternatively, finely chop the butter and rub in with your fingertips, working quickly to avoid warming it. This is best left to those lucky folk with cool hands!
4. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of cold water over the mixture and mix together with the fork. Add more water, spoon by spoon, as needed - it will depend on temperature, humidity and a million other factors, but the finished dough should be moist and starting to come together, but not wet. I used 7 tablespoons (315 ml). Use your fingertips to test if it's sticking together.
5. Finish by using your hands to quickly bring the dough together into a ball. Just press, don't knead.
6. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to hot 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 . Lightly grease a deep 9"/24cm ceramic or metal pie dish. Note that a dish this size results in quite a thin top crust - if you want a sturdier top which cuts more cleanly, then you should use a smaller dish so you don't need to roll it out so thinly.
2. Take 2/3 of the pastry dough (I weighed my dough and 2/3 was about 12oz/340g) and roll out to fit pie dish, right up to the rim. Line the pie dish with it, prick all over the bottom with a fork and set aside.
3. Peel, quarter, core and slice the apples and place in a bowl. How tightly you can pack them into the pie depends on how thinly they are sliced - I like them chunky, but you will get a firmer filling if they are very thin.
4. Sprinkle the brown sugar and spice(s) over the apples and toss well to coat.
5. Pack the apples tightly into the lined pie dish. The filling can come up above the rim of the dish in a mound.
6. Roll out the remaining pastry dough to fit over the apples.
7. With a wet finger, moisten the edge of the pastry in the dish. Place the dough lid on the pie and press the edges together. Trim the edges as necessary and crimp the seam closed with your fingers or the back of a fork.
8. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut three vents in the top of the dough. You can either cut leaf-shaped vents and use the pieces you removed to fashion decorative leaves, or you can cut straight vents and use any pastry trimmings to fashion decorations as desired. Moisten the back of the decorations with a wet finger and gently press onto the top of the pie.
9. Glaze the top of the pie with a beaten egg or milk, then sprinkle the top with a little white sugar.
10. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and put it into the center of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 minutes. The top should be light golden brown.
11. Serve hot, warm or cold.