Picking Apples and Making Pie

apple pie

I am writing this post as Hurricane Sandy is making her way up the eastern seaboard. We are stocked with food and fortified with wine. I have baked a double batch of banana bread, located the magazines, playing cards and Scrabble game along with more practical items like flashlights just in case we lose power. The cat is napping quietly in her favorite desk chair as if tonight is a night just like any other which I am taking as a good sign. We are hunkered down and ready for the storm and I'm sure you're wondering what all of this has to do with pie and I'm sorry to say, nothing really. It's just that it's on my mind and it seems odd to write about anything else right now. So you'll have to excuse the fact that I have no real segue planned here to take you all back to the orchard where I picked the gorgeous apples that filled this classic apple pie.

apples at fishkill farms

On a bright sunny day last week I teamed up with an old friend and a new one to make the drive up to Fishkill Farms to pick some of New York state's finest apples. The season was winding down and there wasn't a huge variety of fruit left on the trees, but the mutsus and golden delicious that we picked were incredibly delicious and perfect for the pie that Nicole and I planned to bake. The killer picnic we packed and the warm cinnamon sugar coated donuts with cold, crisp cider at the farm stand weren't too shabby either.

apple pie

The sun was bright that day, almost too bright for the 400 speed film I had in my camera so I don't have too many photos of the farm to share, but check out La Buena Vida for Nicole's gorgeous photos of the day and another shot of the pie we made (thanks for letting me make a mess in your kitchen, N!), and maybe Ellie will cut together a bit of the Super8 footage she shot too. Let's all just hope that she doesn't share my very ungraceful cartwheeling through the orchards...

Stay safe during this wild storm east coasters!

Apple Pie

For the Crust

This crust comes to you from Brandi Henderson of I made that! and The Pantry at Delancey

where she teaches a class called "How to be a Pie Ninja" and she is not messing around. This

crust is made with  a technique called fraisage which creates long sheets of buttery flakes

throughout the dough instead of little pockets of butter.

12 ounces pastry flour

8 ounces cold butter

4 ounces ice water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Mix the flour and salt together, then pour the whole lot on a large cutting board or countertop.

2. With a bench scraper, cut in half of the butter until it is the size of lima beans, then cut in the other half of the butter until it is the size of quarters. Add the apple cider vinegar to the water.

3. Using your fingers, flick the water on to the butter flour mixture and gently fold it in with your bench scraper. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it together without it falling apart.

4. Then, you smear the butter into the dough. With the heel of your hand push a section of the dough down and away from you. Scrape your sheet off of the board and place it in a bowl to the side. Repeat until you have worked through all of the dough, pushing it down and away from you in sections. Once you've gone through all of the dough gently remove it from the bowl,press it together, then split it in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and form into a disk.Chill the dough for at least one hour before using. I like to chill mine overnight.

For the Filling

4-5 large apples (about 3 lbs) I like mutsus, jonathans, golden delicious, and cortlands

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup all purpose flour

zest and juice of one small lemon

zest and juice of half of an orange

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

Peel the apples and cut them into 1/2'' chunks. Place the apples in a large bowl then add lemon and orange juices and zests, stir gently to combine. Add the rest of the filling ingredients (except the butter) and stir gently to combine.

For the Topping

1 egg, beaten

A few teaspoons of coarse sugar like turbinado or light demerara

To Assemble and Bake

Preheat oven to 400º

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a 12’’ circle 1/4''-1/8'' thick and place it into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the pie.

2. Roll out the other piece of dough into a 12'' circle about 1/4''-1/8'' thick and place it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.

3. Fill the prepared pie shell with the apple mixture, dot with the 2 tablespoons butter, and top with the second crust, trim the edges so there is about 1/2’’ of overhang then crimp the edges and cut a few vents in the top. If you'd like to make a lattice top, here is a really great step-by-step slideshow from Bon Appetit.com.

4. If the crust seems soft or warm, slide the whole pie into the fridge or freezer for about 15min before you bake it. When you are ready to bake brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sugar.

5. Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of your oven, then lower the oven temp to 350º and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown and the apple juices bubble. For extra shine, glaze the pie with another coat of egg wash 10 minutes before you take it out of the oven, but keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.