Friday, November 16, 2012

Apple Pie (with three variations)

The first pie I ever made was apple pie with streusel topping.
I still like it.
And I had always thought I hated apple pie.
The secret is: good apples. Fresh. Tart. Mix and match.

2 cups chilled flour
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup chilled leaf lard or shortening
2 Tablespoons chilled butter
¼ cup ice water (+1 teaspoon – 1 Tablespoon more if needed)

3 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon salt 
⅔ cup sugar
6+ cups tart apples, peeled, cored, wedged
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 ½ Tablespoon butter

  1. prepare crust: Sift together flour and salt.
  2. Combine lard and butter.  Cut ½ of lard mixture into the flour mixture with pastry blender until it has grain of cornmeal.  Cut remaining half coarsely into the dough until it is pea size.
  3. Sprinkle dough lightly with ice water, pushing wetted dough away to one side of bowl as you sprinkle.  When you can gather dough into a ball, stop handling it.
  4. Refrigerate until 1 hour before use: allow it to come to room temperature.  Pinch off just enough dough for one pie shell and press it into approximate shape needed.  Roll as lightly and as little as possible.
  5. prepare filling:  Preheat oven to 425°F.
  6. Whisk together flour, zest, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and sugar.
  7. Gently toss with apples and lemon juice until well-coated.
  8. Place in layers in pie shell.  Dot with butter.
  9. Bake pie 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more.
  10. Cool pie to warm or room temperature on a rack, 2 to 4 hours

1st.    Autumn Apple:
Make ½ crust recipe.  For top crust, cut leaves and acorns from left-over dough with cookie cutters.  Scatter over top of pie, overlapping as desired.  (If desired, paint with beaten egg tinted with food-coloring in autumn colors.)

2nd.    Streusel:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
6 Tablespoons flour (or rolled oats)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped walnuts

3rd.   Cheesy Apple:
Substitute 1 teaspoon of fennel or anise seed for other flavorings.  After baking, sprinkle 1 cup shredded sharp cheese and place briefly under a broiler to melt.

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