With Summer in full, heat wave, swing and the holidays all to quickly approaching,
I thought I would share with you all my most favorite pie recipe.
I thought about all of the delicious Summer fruit pie recipes I've compiled over the last few years
and which of those I could share with you today, but if you want to master a good pie recipe
you might as well learn the all-American favorite: apple pie.
This recipe comes from the Martha Stewart Pies and Tart's cookbook and is, by far, the best apple pie
I have ever tasted in my life. You can ask my husband because he is, what I like to lovingly refer to as,
an apple pie snob. He is an expert on the subject. He says that this pie is hands down the tops.
3 tablespoons all-purpost flour, plus more for dusting
Pâte Brisée (recipe below)
1 large egg yolk, for egg wash
1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
*3 pounds assorted apples,
such as Macoun, Granny Smith, Cortland, Jonagold, and Empire,
peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
*Coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough to a 13-inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate (do not trim overhang). Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
2. Adjust an over rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together egg yolk and cream for egg wash.
3. In a large bowl, toss together apples, flour, lemon juice, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until combined; pour mixture into chilled pie shell, piling in center. Dot mixture with butter.
4. Roll out remaining disk of dough as in step 1. Using a sharp paring knife, cut slits in top of dough. Brush rim of bottom crust with egg wash. Center dough on top of pie plate, trim with kitchen shears, leaving 1-inch overhand. Tuck dough under bottom piece, and crimp edges as desired. Brush pie with egg wash, and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
5. Transfer pie plate to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake on lowest rack until crust begins to turn light brown, about 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F, and bake until crust is golden brown and juices bubble, 60-75 minutes more. (The high initial temperature helps the crust set quickly, keeping it from becoming soggy. Reducing the heat allows the apples to cook through without burning the crust; if top crust or edges are browning to quickly, tent pie with foil.) Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely*. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
INGREDIENTS & RECIPE for Pâte Brisée
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
*1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor (or whisk together by hand in a bowl). Add butter, and pulse (or quickly cut in with a pastry blender or your fingertips) until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining. Drizzle 1/4 cup water over mixture. Pulse (or ix with a fork) until mixture just begins to hold together. If dough is too dry, add 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse (or mix with a fork).
2. Divide dough in half onto two pieces of plastic wrap. Gather into two balls, wrap loosely in plastic, and press each into a disk using a rolling pin. REfrigerate until firm, well wrapped in plastic, 1 hour or up to 1 day. (Dough can be frozen up to 3 months; thaw in refrigerator before using.)
Pâte Brisée How-To
1. COMBINING INGREDIENTS Be sure all ingredients - even the dry ones - are cold before you begin (refrigerate them for 30 minutes). Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Cut butter into small pieces and add to processor.
2. CUTTING IN BUTTER Pulse until mixture resembles course meal, with some larger pieces remaining (up to 1/2 inch), about 10 seconds.
3. ADDING THE WATER Drizzle 1/4 cup ice water evenly over mixture, and pulse until the dough just begins to hold together. Pinch off a piece of dough with your fingers: It should just hold together when squeezed without being wet, sticky, or crumbly. Add up to 1/4 cup more water, by the tablespoon, if necessary.
4. CHILLING THE DOUGH Turn out dough onto plastic wrap. Use your hands to quickly gather wrap to shape the dough into balls; flatten slightly, Unwrap; rewrap loosely, leaving half an inch of air space around the dough. Roll to 1/2 inch thick, filling space. Refrigerate until dough is firm, 1 hour or up to 1 day.
5. ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH If necessary, let dough sit at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, working from center out to edges. Turn dough on-eighth of a turn every roll, loosening it with a large offset spatula. Remove excess flour with a dry pastry brush.
6. FITTING THE DOUGH INTO DISH Once the dough is rolled out to its proper dimension, roll it back up over the pin. Next, carefully unroll to drape the dough over the pie plate, and gently press to fit it into the dish.
As for the assorted apples, the only ones from the ingredient list I can ever find at the store is Granny Smith, which just so happens to be the best apple to bake. I typically use anywhere from 1.5 - 2 lbs of Granny Smith and then just get the rest in whatever apples the store has that I like. Granny Smith's are perfect for baking because they are so naturally tart and they really hold their shape when baked instead of becoming mushy or falling apart.
As for the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, I tend to find that some of Martha's recipes don't have quite enough sugar for my taste so I typically eyeball the sugar by either adding a heaping 1/4 cup or a 1/3 (sometimes even 1/2 cup sugar) more than the recipe calls for. I suggest when trying this recipe for the first time that you try the 1/4 cup extra and decide if it's sweet enough for you, then change accordingly.
As for the freshly grated nutmeg, you definitely don't need the nutmeg to be freshly grated, you can certainly substitute with ground nutmeg if you don't have a nutmeg grinder, but I happen to have one and I think it does make a difference... even if it's just all in my head ;)
As for the coarse sanding sugar, if you don't have sanding sugar, granulated sugar is just fine. When I first started baking pies I searched high and low for sanding sugar and only found it at Williams-Sonoma (where you can also purchase the nutmeg grinder which already includes nutmeg), but until I found it, granulated sugar did the trick.
As for letting the pie cool completely, this is a VERY important step. Allow the pie to cool at least 3 hours or it will not set properly and you'll have a gooey mess. I know it won't be warm, but you can always pop a cut piece in the microwave for 30 - 90 seconds and it will be warm and delicious and SO WORTH THE WAIT.
As for the Pâte Brisée, I find that using the food processor makes my dough too tough, and you really don't want that. So instead I use a pastry blender, which is an important tool to have when you are going to be baking a lot. It definitely takes longer and requires some muscle, but it's worth it to keep your dough the right consistency. You can also use your fingers, but the heat from your hands warms up the butter and your hands don't work as fast as a hand held pastry blender.
I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you make the Pâte Brisée the day/night before you plan to bake your pie. It will make your life so much easier. Heck you can make it 3 months in advance and it will stay good in the freezer, just remember to thaw it out overnight in the fridge if it's been in the freezer. Don't forget to label and date the dough so as to make sure it stays fresh.
Of course, the once you start baking pies you'll begin to develop your own methods and your own variations. These notes of mine are just some of the things I've learned along the way. If you're brave enough to try baking a pie for the first time and have any comments or questions, please feel free to ask, I am always open to suggestions and to help anyone in pie trouble.