Friday, March 14, 2014

rustic apple pie

I don't remember much from math, but I do remember 3.14 (a.k.a Pi and the best excuse to make pie today).

So, Joanne Chang is the author of this amazing cookbook, Flour. I've made the Homemade Pop-Tarts from her book, which is constructed with the most perfect pâte brisée. I'm telling you, it's incredible. That's all I can say. Wait, no, I can say more. It's flaky, buttery, not too sweet, and oh-so-orgasmic. Yes, let me repeat that. Orgasmic. Needless to say, it's a go-to recipe for the rest of my life.

There's really only one kind of pie I make. Apple. It's not your traditional apple pie, but rather more rustic and way less complicated. There's no blind-baking and, surprisingly, no pie dish. This is probably the easiest homemade pie ever, and I can't believe I'm sharing all of my secrets right now. I swore I would take this one to the grave with me. Oh well. For the sake of butter, I'll let you steal this from me.. as long as you tell your grandkids where you got it.

So, here's the story. Basically, one day I was thinking about how traditional apple pies have a distinct end crust. Some people like that sort of thing, but I wanted to create a pie with a little bit of apple in every bite. This the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night...Literally. I distinctly remember not sleeping that night in anticipation. I wanted it to have the mind of a turnover and yet maintain the essence of a pie.

It was then that I recruited Joanne Chang's scrumptious pâte brisée for such a mission. And that's how the Rustic Apple Pie was born. Welcome to the world, you beautiful creature.

Rustic Apple Pie
Yields one pie to the face

3 medium Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, and cut into roughly 1/2-inch slices)
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pâte Brisée (see recipe below)

1 egg, lightly beaten
sparkling sugar (optional, but recommended!)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pull out the pâte brisée from the refrigerator.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, use a spoon to combine apple slices, sugars, flour, and cinnamon. Make sure the apples are evenly coated.
3. Lightly dust a large working surface and rolling pin with flour. Unwrap the pâte brisée onto the working surface.
4. Roll the pâte brisée out until about an even 1/4-inch thickness (or desired thickness). 
5. Have a parchment-lined baking sheet ready. Use the rolling pin to transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet: Roll most of the dough onto the rollin pin. Then carefully lift it on top of the baking sheet. Unroll the dough from the rolling pin.
6. Once the dough is positioned onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange the apple filling. Make sure all the apple is in there! See how I do it below.

7. It doesn't matter where you start on the dough, but just begin folding it over the apples. I like a little bit of apple to still peak out. The exposed apple will also help with ventilation of the pie, so it has some room to breathe. Each time you fold it over, make sure to press the down in areas where dough is overlapping so that it sticks together while baking. 
8. Brush the crust with the egg wash. Then immediately sprinkle with sparkling sugar.

9. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is just golden brown.
10. Allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes until cutting and serving. (It's best to allow the filling to set up a bit.)
11. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Pâte Brisée
Recipe by Joanne Chang
Makes about 18 oz. of dough

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp cold milk

1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt on stir speed for 10 to 15 seconds or until combined.
2. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on stir speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and lumps of the butter the size of pecans are visible throughout.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. 
4. Mix on stir speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.
5. Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface, then gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side along the work surface, until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.
6. Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disc about 1-inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. (** I did not wait 4 hours before using it. Maybe 1 hour, at most. You can use once it's firm and relatively cold.) The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

What I LOVE about the Rustic Apple Pie:
-Easy for anyone despite baking experience.
-Very adaptable. (I've added cranberries and almonds to this during the fall. But honestly, I still like it best just the way it is.)
-Every bite has a little apple.
-Ratio of crust to apple.
-Year-round staple. It's appropriate for any time of the year. (Because what's more American than apple pie?)
-Tart of the apple. I purposely made this not overly sweet. (I've test-baked a lot of these pies with different apple filling variations. I find that the simplicity of just cinnamon, rather than overdoing it with other spices, allows the apples to stand out.)
-Having the last bite be as good as the first (except the fact that it's the last).
-Imperfectly perfect.
-Not labor-intensive.
-Glittering, semi-crunchy, sparkling crust! Holy goodness!

Congratulations to anyone who just noticed that I spelled out EVERYTHING. Because that's what I truly love about this Rustic Apple Pie.

Happy 3.14 to all the nerds, pie makers, and pie consumers everywhere today! P.S. I am all of the above.

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