Sunday, October 15, 2006

Apple Pie

Rainy Sunday afternoons were created for baking. Baking and napping. If you're consulting your friendly neighborhood Gary Lezak and you see that Sunday is going to be rainy - well, you might as well prepare to make yourself an apple pie. Gary Lezak, you see, will let you know that it's time to bake. You just have to be ready.
So run to the store and buy the ingredients for an apple pie. If it was me, I'd be making a Apple Pie with a crunchy buttery nutty streusel topping because it's my favorite. And when you're home from the store and feeling like getting a head start on your pie, you might as well go ahead and make the crust a day ahead. So it can sit in your refrigerator and guarantee you flaky buttery crust success. This is my no-fail tip to you. A cold crust is definitely the way to go.
I made my first truly successful Apple pie this year, after years of resolving that this year would be the year of the perfect pie crust. It turns out that 2006 is the year of the crust. My pie crust isn't going to win any beauty contests, but I can guarantee you that no one is going to be leaving remnants on their plate. Even when it seems like it's just not going to hold together at all, I refrigerate it. And the next day it works. Just like magic.
Flaky Pie Crust
for a single-crust pie
1 1/8 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
ice water

Mix first three ingredients together in a food processor. Add the COLD butter and blend until it is in small pea-size pieces. Remove from processor to a large bowl add 3 T. of ice water to mixture and blend with spatula until it combines into a ball. Add more ice water if necessary, in small increments (1/2 T or so). Shape this mixture into a ball by hand, wrap in plastic wrap, and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least an hour).
After removing dough from fridge, let rest for a few minutes to make it easier to roll. Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour, place dough on surface, and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Roll out dough to less than 1/4 inch thick, adding dough as necessary to keep it from becoming sticky or sticking to your rolling pin.
Transfer dough to pie pan by draping over your rolling pin. Trim excess dough from the rim of pie plate. Prick dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate dough until filling is ready.

Apple Filling
4 Granny Smith apples
3 McIntosh apples
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. superfine sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
pinch salt
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
2 T. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Streusel Topping
Cream together the following ingredients in the food processor:
1 stick butter, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. chopped pecans, 1 T fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/2 c. of all-purpose flour.

Peel & core apples and slice in 3/4 inch slices. Toss together with the sugars, spices, and salt. Add the lemon juice and cornstarch and toss. Pile the apples into the pie crust and dot with the small pieces of butter. Distribute streusel topping evenly on top of pie. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes, until the top and crust are nicely browned.

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