Sunday, November 9, 2008

Maida's Big Apple Pie

"To make an apple pie from scratch you must first invent the universe." -Carl Sagan

It's pie season, baby! I've already made a few pies to cull down the long list of Thanksgiving pie possibilities. My dad prefers pies to cake, so on a recent Sunday get together I tried out two: Sour Cream Apple Pie and Maida's Big Apple Pie. They are both from Nick Malgieri's new baking book, The Modern Baker. I really like his books, and he seems like a nice enough guy. You know, someone you could sit down and eat a piece of pie with.

Maida's Big Apple Pie (pictured above)
This is a galette (free form pie), but there's nothing "ette" about it. It's really big, almost twice the size of a normal pie. Like many apple pies, the filling is cooked a little beforehand as to eliminate the excess moisture. I also think that the use of half Golden Delicious apples is important here, as this type of apple breaks down in the pre-cooking process, binding the sturdier Granny Smith apples in a chunky applesauce.

Apple Filling
4 T. unsalted butter
2.5 lbs Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled, halved, cored and each half cut into 6 wedges.
2.5 lbs Golden Delicious, prepared as above
1 c. sugar
1/3. light brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
One double batch Rich Pie dough
egg wash (one large egg well beaten with a pinch of salt)
sugar for sprinkling
1 round pizza pan

1. Prepare and chill pie dough (see recipe below)
2. For the filling, melt the butter in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven or other large pan with a cover. Add the apples and sprinkle with the sugars and cinnamon. cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the apples have exuded their juices. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender. About 1/3 will have disintegrated, and the rest of the apple slices should remain intact. Cool the filling. The filling may be made several days ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

(Cathy's note: I've made this pie twice. The first time I discarded the extra apple juices after cooking and the filling came out a little dry after cooking. The second time I added a little flour to the pan an the end of cooking and kept the thickened juices. I preferred the result of the 2nd effort.)

3. Set a rack on the lowest level and preheat the oven to 375 F.

4. Roll out the Rich Pie Dough into a circle about 16 inches in diameter and center it on the pan. Spoon the filling into the middle, leaving a 2.5 inch border of dough uncovered. fold in the uncovered dough toward the center of the pie, leaving an uncovered space in the center. Brush the top of the folded-over dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

(Cathy's note: the 2nd time I made this pie I somehow ended up with too much filling, so I made another small pie with the dough scraps.)

5. Bake the pie until the dough is a golden color and the filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack.
(Cathy's note: the Sweet Pie dough is pretty fragile and more difficult to work with than a traditional pie dough. It also cracked a bit [see image]. The second time I made the pie, I used a more traditional pie dough. Both were good, the firs crust being more sweet and crumbly and the second more sturdy and flaky.

Rich Pie Dough
Note: this recipe is a double batch
3 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
2.5 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 lg. egg
1 lg. egg yolk
1. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and pulse about 20 times to finely mix in the butter.
Add the egg and egg yolk and pulse until the dough just begins to form a ball.
2. Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any dough on it to the work surface. Use your hands to press the dough into a disk about 1/2 inch thick.
3. dough disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 2 days.

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