Sunday, September 26, 2010

Apple Pie

With apples all around, I thought up alot of recipes using this fruit. Today I made the American Apple Pie, the much loved pie that sits next to the pumpkin pie at family tables during the fall season and at the upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations. The French Apple Tart last week was great, with its fancy apple decoration and yummy inside filling, all encased in the best buttery tart.

Apple Pie is slightly different in a way the crust is made up solely of vegetable shortening or with a mixture of butter. I find that vegetable shortening is very hard to work with as it produces a very tender and soft pie dough and I always have problem rolling it out perfect to line the pie dish. Extra flour for dusting is required on hand and the bigger working surface you have, the better it is. Everytime I attempt a pie, my small kitchen turns into a mess and I have to work extra hard within a small space and clean up immediately.

I made an Apple Pie recipe last year, solely on vegetable shortening and this time, I mixed it with butter to see if there is any difference. Truly, I find that the dough was easier to work with but still tender if rolling it too hard. The omission of the vegetable shortening is not an option here as it is there to provide the flakiness of the pie crust which complements so well with the apple slices that cook in their juices but still retaining their shapes and soft but not mushy after the baking. If you find that your dough breaking during the rolling out, dust flour as you go and roll the dough out as big as you can. If unable to lift it to line the pie dish, just lift the part you can and pat it into the pie dish and patch up with the remaining dough. I used my small rolling pin to gently roll out the dough to even thickness once the dough was inside the 11 inch pie dish and gently patted the sides. It is ok to get uneven thickness on the sides and if any extra dough moving up the side rims of the pie dish when you are patting the sides, do pat it down gently meeting the upper rim of the pie dish. Apple pies are meant to look rustic, so any imperfection of the crust is not a big deal. I made mine into a lattice shape, of which I cut the dough with a jagged pizza cutter.

The addition of lemon juice to the apple filling mixture was done last after all the ingredients are mixed together first, so that the juice will bind up all the ingredients together. I used both nutmeg and cinnamon to flavor the pie but these or one can be omitted. Nutmeg is more pungent than cinnamon, hence the lesser quantity in this recipe.

Pie Base
475g All Purpose Flour
140g Butter, cold 
140g Vegetable shortening, cold
1 tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 to 4 tbsp Cold water
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
extra flour for dusting
1 tsp sugar (extra for sprinkling)

500g/3 large apples (peeled,sliced into thin wedges)
50g Raisins
75g to 100g Sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg Powder
2 tsp Corn flour
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Pie Crust
1)Sift the flour, sugar and salt together. Put contents into a food processor.
2)Cut the vegetable shortening and butter into smaller pieces and drop them randomly into the flour mixture.
3)Pulse and process to mix and to obtain loose crumbs. Process for 1 min only.
4)Add in 3 tbsp water and pulse to mix and the dough will come together. Add extra 1 tbsp water if not enough. The dough will look yellowish and feel tender and soft when touched.
5)Form into a flat disc and  place in a plastic bag and let the dough rest for 1 hour in the fridge.

1)Mix all the ingredients, except the lemon juice together. Stir to mix thoroughly.
2)Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir to mix. Leave aside.

To Assemble
1)Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 10 or 11 inch pie dish.
2)Take out dough from the fridge, divide it into half.
3)Dust the rolling pin and working surface with flour. Take half of the dough and roll out to more than 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is too soft, continue dusting with flour. Gently lift up the dough and transfer to the pie dish. If unable to do so, just patch up the dough inside the pie dish itself and use a smaller rolling pin to roll even the dough surface inside the plate. Do not apply too much pressure.
4)Take out the rest of the pie dough, roll out and cut out strips to form the lattice. Leave aside.
5)Take the apple filling and spoon into the base of the pie dough and spread out evenly. Pour in the juice too.
6)Arrange the strips on top of the fillings to form the lattice. Do the straight patterns first and finish off with the diagonal ones.
7)Brush with egg wash.
8)Bake for 15 mins. Reduce the heat to 375F and brush extra egg wash and sprinkle some sugar on top of the pie. Continue baking for another 1 hour & 15 mins. For the last 20 mins of baking, apply more egg wash and finish off baking.
9)Remove from the oven and let the pie cool down for about 15 mins before serving.

Serves: 6 to 8 person

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