Aug 31, 2021

The Best All-American Apple Pie (Page 2 of 2)

Hand method:

Place a medium mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.

Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cream cheese and rub the mixture between your fingers to blend the cream cheese into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Spoon the mixture, together with the cold butter, into a reclosable gallon-size freezer-bag. Expel any air from the bag and close it. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into thin flakes. Place the bag in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or until the butter is very firm.

Transfer the mixture to the chilled bowl, scraping the sides of the bag. Set the bag aside. Sprinkle the mixture with the water and vinegar, tossing lightly with a rubber spatula. Divide the mixture in half and spoon each half into a plastic bag.

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled. Repeat the process with the second half.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a discs, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight. (For a pie shell and lattice, divide it in a ratio of two thirds: one third – use about 9.5 ounces for the shell and the rest for the lattice, flattening the smaller part into a rectangle.)

For the pie:

On a floured pastry cloth or between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the bottom crust 1/8 inch thick or less and 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to the 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 and a maximum of 3 hours.

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 minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.

Transfer the apples and their juices to a colander suspended over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture will release at least 1/2 cup of liquid.

In a small saucepan (preferably lined with a nonstick surface), over medium-high heat, boil down this liquid, with the butter, to about 1/3 cup (a little more if you started with more than 1/2 cup of liquid), or until syrupy and lightly caramelized. Swirl the liquid but do not stir it. (Alternatively, spray a 4-cup heatproof measure with nonstick vegetable spray, add the liquid and butter, and boil it in the microwave, 6 to 7 minutes on high.) Meanwhile, transfer the apples to a bowl and toss them with the cornstarch until all traces of it have disappeared.

Pour the syrup over the apples, tossing gently. (Do not be concerned if the liquid hardens on contact with the apples; it will dissolve during baking.)

Roll out the top crust large enough to cut a 12-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide to cut the circle.

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. Tuck the overhang under the bottom crust border and press down all around the top to seal it. Crimp the border using a fork or your fingers and make about 5 evenly spaced 2-inch slashes starting about 1 inch from the center and radiating toward the edge. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour before baking to chill and relax the pastry. This will maintain flakiness and help to keep the crust from shrinking.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) at least 20 minutes before baking. Set an oven rack at the lowest level any place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating. Place a large piece of greased foil on top to catch any juices.

Set the pie directly on the foil-topped baking stone and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices bubble through the slashes and the apples feel tender but not mushy when a cake tester or small sharp knife is inserted through a slash. After 30 minutes, protect the edges from overbrowning with a foil ring.

Cool the pie on a rack for at least 4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Written by Ginger Cook