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Splendid Table: An especially appeeling apple pie

October 10, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: What's the deal with apple pie? Mom, Johnny Appleseed and all that are good reads, the apple filling is fine, but the bottom crust is like wet cardboard. I don't get the attraction. Now if you know the magic for a crisp bottom crust, I'd give Mom's apple pie a shot and be grateful. -- Love Mom, But Not Her Soggy Pie

Dear Love Mom: Every fruit pie suffers from this and the cure is twofold. First, bake the bottom crust to dry it out before you put in the fruit filling. Second, get as much moisture out of the fruit as you can before it goes into the pie.

This recipe makes both those things happen. It is written as a hand-holder -- assuming pie isn't something we make every day -- so I've tried to cover all the possible puzzles. Please don't be put off by the length; the extra verbiage is there to help.

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A caveat: Any pie that sits around for a day or more will end up with a moist bottom crust. Solve that issue by serving the pie the day you bake it.

CRISP-CRUST CINNAMON APPLE PIE



o Makes 10-inch pie, serving 7 to 8.

This recipe cancels out the soggy bottom crust. Use it as a template for all fruit pies.

Cook to Cook

o When making piecrust, remember three things:

1. Keep all the ingredients very cold.

2. Don't overmix; just toss everything into a rough lumpy dough.

3. Every time you work the crust, either mixing or rolling, give it a 30-minute-or-more rest in the refrigerator. Keeping the butter in big flakes makes for a flaky piecrust. Work it down to tiny bits and you have a cookie-style crust.

Piecrust:

2-1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (measure by dipping cup into the flour sack and then sweeping off any excess with a flat knife blade)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, each cut into 4 or 5 pieces, no smaller
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water or iced apple juice

Filling:

7 large Granny Smith apples (or other tart, firm apple), peeled, cored and sliced about 1/2-inch thick (don't use Golden Delicious -- they will ruin the pie)
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 to 2/3 tightly packed cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each ground allspice and ground ginger
2 tablespoons flour

For Assembling Pie:

1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk

For the Crust Glaze:

1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons sugar

A day or more ahead, start the piecrust. Take a large plastic bag and measure in all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt) and toss them together. Add the butter to the bag and seal it. Put it in the freezer for about 1 hour to 3 months.

Turn the contents into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or into a big chilled bowl. Process 2 seconds to break up the butter into slightly smaller chunks. Sprinkle the vinegar or lemon juice and 5 tablespoons ice water over the flour and pulse 4 times. Test the dough to see if it holds together between two fingers. If it's crumbly, sprinkle another 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse 3 times. Test again. It should look lumpy and not thoroughly mixed, but if it holds together when you pinch some between your fingers, it is ready.

If working by hand, rub the butter and flour between your fingertips (not your palms, they are too warm and will melt the butter) until the mixture is in big 2-inch flakes. Sprinkle the liquids over the mix and lightly toss with a fork to moisten. Try to hold together. If crumbly, sprinkle in a little more liquid and toss. Don't beat or stir.

With either method, when the dough still looks rough and lumpy, gather it into a ball. Then divide the dough into 2 balls (one slightly larger than the other), wrap up and refrigerate 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Grease a 10-inch metal pie plate (do not use glass). Generously flour a countertop. Roll out the bigger piece of dough into a big circle that's about 1/8-inch thick. Lightly flour the top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the pin.

Fit it into the pie pan, leaving about a 2-inch overhang. (Save scraps for decorating the pie). Chill 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss together the apples and lemon juice. Add the other ingredients for the filling (except the 2 tablespoons flour), tasting for sweetness and adjusting as needed. Turn into a sieve and set over the bowl. Leave for 30 minutes.

Then remove the middle rack of the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees F.

Spread a piece of foil over a cookie sheet. Roll out remaining dough to a circle that's about 16 inches in diameter. Set on the foil and chill 30 minutes.

Turn the drained juices from the filling into a saucepan and boil them into a thick syrup. Scrape back into the apples, tossing them with the 2 tablespoons flour.

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