Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lattice-Top Apple Pie

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I am a food snob. And a food snob like me gets to be taken down a peg or two once in a while.

Apple pies were never my kind of desserts. So were bread puddings. Nah, no humble pies or puddings for me. I'm more a mille feuillie, tiramisu and clafoutis kind of gal (when you feel like not quite a grown woman yet definitely not a girl). In fact, the more unpronouncible the dessert, the better. Yet I've found that kids and grown men can never resist apple pies. In fact, they get excited over apple pies. "Apple pies for dessert ah? WOW!" "Any ice cream to go with it??" And I think, is it the ice cream or the pie you guys are gaga about.

But last month I ate a very good apple pie. It was my friend Linda's apple pie that changed my mind about apple pies. Her first apple pie was not exactly a wonder, because she had made the crust too thick. But Linda's second apple pie--oh, it was superb. It was so good that it was all I can remember of her dinner that evening, and it left me wanting to make a pie as good as that.

I do have a very amazing apple struesel that I'll share with you one day, but now let's focus on the all-American dessert, the humble yet wholesome apple pie.

It wasn't the apple filling that caught my tongue and stomach. It was the crust. It was very short, very buttery and very delicious. However, when I was making the strips for the lattice top with Linda, the pie pastry was so short that it broke here and there. I wanted a pastry that was strong enough to weave but did not compromise on the flakiness. The filling was good, but it was the usual apple filling except Linda added custard powder for extra flavor and to thicken the juices. I wanted a filling that's gooey with soft apple chunks, like --oh dear, dare I say it--McD's, but with more apples and less goo. That can only be achieved with cooking, but I didn't want the hassle of cooking my apples. So I consulted 3 different cookbooks and stole a bit of tips from each, and came up with this apple pie, which I am very happy with. The pie pastry is short but strong enough to be weaved. The apple filling has potato starch to blend the filling together (cornstarch and plain flour are deemed too gluey and dry respectively) and keep the bottom crust from getting soggy because I don't bother with baking blind (i.e. pre-baking the bottom crust). Because I didn't pre-bake the bottom crust, I used the lower element of the oven for the first 20 minutes to cook the bottom crust before the juice from the apples can cause the crust to go soft. The only thing I'll probably change is maybe cook my apples so I get more gooey sauce and softer apples. But that would be one fine day, not now. For now, this is as good as it gets.

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Lattice-Top Apple Pie

Pie Crust
230 g (8oz) cold butter*, cut into 2 cm cubes
3 cups plain flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 T fine sugar
1 egg
1 t cider vinegar
4-6 T ice water

*you can use half butter & half Crisco too

1. Put the flour, firm butter, salt and sugar into your processor or cake mixer and whizz a couple of times until crumbly.

2. Whisk the egg, cold water and cider vinegar and add to the crumbly mixture. Use a long spatula to fold the mixture several times to mix.

3. Take the dough out and knead once or twice to get it into a ball. You may need to add another spoon or two of cold water, but not too much. Just enough for it all to come together.

4. Roll pastry into a large log, break off a small portion sof the dough and smear it on your work surface with the heel of your palm. Repeat one more time. The French call this fraisage and this step will ensure a short flaky crust. However, the most important thing (esp. in hot weather) is that everything must be cold--cold hands, cold butter, cold dough. The cold butter will melt upon baking and create tiny holes when it melts, resulting in short pastry. The next important thing is to work quickly, again to prevent the butter from melting.

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5. Gather everything together again, cut 1/3 off to make a small disk, put it into a plastic bag and chill 1 hour. Roll the larger portion into a small disk and put into another bag and chill that too.

6. Put the smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 30 cm/12" long and 23 cm/9" wide. (You can also use a 10-11"/26-28 cm dish, increase apples to 10, pastry remain the same amount but roll the bottom crust and strips wider/longer.) Transfer onto a piece of greaseproof paper-lined tray and chill. Take out when firm, use a pizza cutter to cut into 2.5 cm/1 " strips, 0.2 cm /1/8th inch thick .Weave into a lattice on the paper-lined tray. Return to fridge.

7. Roll the larger piece of dough into a thin round piece of 33 cm/13" in diameter. Transfer onto a 9" glass pie dish using a large rolling pin (or lightly flour it & fold it into quarters and unfold on the dish) and press firmly into the pie plate. Leave the excess crust overhanging. Put in fridge to chill (remember, keep the dough cold to make sure butter doesn't melt before it's baked).

Filling
1 kg (about 8) Granny Smiths, or a mixture of apples
1/3 cup golden raisins, washed
zest of 1 lemon
2 T lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup*
1/2 t cinnamon powder
1/4 t nutmeg
4 T potato starch
1/4 t salt

* or increase sugar to 3/4 cup. I used maple syrup because my bottle is expiring.

1. Peel and cut apples into quarters and slice. Put into a large bowl.

2. Toss apples with everything else on the list.

Baking The Pie
1. Oven preheated at 220 C, rack on bottom.

2. Scoop apple filling into crust-lined pie dish (retain the juice. If there's less than 3 T juice, add 3 -4T water to the retained juice), put the prepared lattice top over the top, trim and press the edges to seal, crimping with your thumb and fingers.

3. Brush the lattice with water and sprinkle some sugar on.

4. Turn heating to bottom element only. Bake 20 minutes. Carefully (HOT!) move the pie to the middle of the oven, turn heat down to 190 C, use upper and lower heating elements, pour the retained apple juice (stir well) into the holes between the lattice and bake another 35 to 40 minutes. If pie top is browning too quickly, reduce the heat a little.

5. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Expect extra loving reaction from family.

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21 comments:

Linda said...

I have been craving for blueberry pie since Thanksgiving but alas no bakery sell pie right now. I actually plan to make pie next week, what a coincidence that you post pie recipe. Your apple pie looks good. Among all pies, apple pie is the hardest to make, you want your apple to cook but not become mushy.

Agnes aka Ric3y said...

Yummy!!! I can't wait for your christmas post =)

TeaLady said...

And I do love a good apple pie. This looks great. Will add to my 'to bake' list.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

yeah somehow apple pie appeals to me too..but its the filling that does it for me..

Fooman said...

Thanks for the apple pie :)

the lunch guy said...

looks good terri, nice crust.

i like to add a few chili flakes to my pie filling, gives it a nice spicy taste, and i also add some finely minced candied ginger root, lime zest, and chiffinade of mint leaves when i have them around. i think these flavors go well with the tartness of the granny smiths.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Wah I can see the lurve oozing from that pie! Looks so delicious (wish I were staying closer to you too!!!).

Johnathan said...

I've always wanted to make apple pie but sadly my wife doesn't like anything to do with pies. Hopefully after trying this, she would change her mind? Fingers crossed :X

hongyi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

linda: yes, mushy is bad but crunchy is bad too.i like my apple pie apples soft, with lots of thick sauce.

agnes: i am so stressed...it's hard to shop here, everyting's all over the place

tealady: i'm sure u have good pie recipes too. do u have any good apple pies filling recipes?

joe: both crust n filling r yumz. wish i have some now.

fooman: when will u be making it?

lunch guy:all ur suggestion sounds good but i'm not sure about the chili flakes...

ll: hey, u can always visit :)

johnathan: make it n i'm sure it'll change her mind. like me.

Precious Pea said...

One question, is it a must to add in cinnamon? I don't like apple pie becos of the cinnamon taste. Can do without it right?

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

PP: cos u can omit d cinnamon but it's nice with d apples! plus makes it more winter-rustic, more christmasy...

the lunch guy said...

you wrote: ur suggestion sounds good but i'm not sure about the chili flakes ...

i get that from the thai habit of putting thai chili-salt or prik-kab-klua on their fruit. it actually tastes great.

Agnes aka Ric3y said...

I agree with you on that. All the items are all over the town. From Consfood to Merdeka Supermarket to Tong Hing...

Btw have you been to the "almost" finished renovated Tong Hing at Gaya Street?? Everything is sold at Ground floor now, the cashier told Dad their upper floor is going to become an American Restaurant.

Mandy said...

your apple pie looks so inviting! And bravo for doing the lattice top. One note about the filling, which I read from books, (you probably know already) you have to use the right kind of apples for the texture you are after. Granny Smith will be great for baking purpose.

Mandy said...

opps, sorry, after i wrote the comment, i went back to see to recipe and noticed that you were using granny smith in the pie already. :p silly me.

June said...

You can also use solidified coconut oil, cut into little cubes like butter (just place oil in a bowl and put into fridge for a while, it will solidify quickly) in place of lard or vegetable shortening. I used that to make the crust for my apple crumble pie recently and it turned out nice and flaky to my surprise. Hope this helps.:)

jackie said...

Hi Terri... One of your silent fans here... rarely making much comments but rest assured always enjoying your daily posts.
I'm very grateful to you for your lovely and absolutely fool/idioit-proof (moi the idoit when it comes to baking and cooking) recipes. You have helped me gain some brownie points with the hubby and mil ;-) God bless you abundantly for that.

Anyways, I would love to attempt your very lovely looking apple lattice top pie but have a few questions and really hope you could help.

Firstly at Step 4 of making the pie crusts you mentioned something about smearing a small portion of the crust with the heel of the palms or "fraisage" to ensure a flaky crusts.... do I do this for all the pie crust or just roll into a large log then break off small piece to smear and then reroll and repeat the process. Sorry if I've confused you with my question.

Secondly, if I'd like to cook the apples (my hubby likes gooey apples!!)... how long should I cook it for and do I need to add a bit more water when cooking the apples?

Thanks in advance for all your help... you are indeed a god-send for newbies (in cooking and baking) like me.

terri@adailyobsession said...

jackie: thnks for reading, but pls do communicate with me more; it gets very lonely smtimes esp when no one comments n i feel like giving up.
yes, you roll the pastry into a large log, break off small pieces to smear, then when all of the pastry is done, gather it together n roll it out to use.

em, i've not made a gooey apple filling that i like so i can't tell you. maybe u can try it out n YOU tell me!

jackie said...

Hi Terri,

Thanks for your prompt reply. Your help/tips on the pie crusts, duly noted. I'll try to make it this weekend and promise to let you know the outcome - be it good or bad ;-) Will try to be less "silent" in the future.... once again thanks for the lovely recipes and wonderful stories. It is really a joy to log-on and read about what you have to say daily. Keep up the good work.

jackie said...

Hi Terri,

As promised a rundown of my experiment on the lattice top apple pie.
First off.... it is such a beautiful looking pie... just making te lattice top transported me to "domestic goddess" land ;-) or least I felt like that when making it.
Overall it tasted ok except that I think I messed up on the flour proportion (used too much cos packed the cup too tightly with flour), hence my crust wasn't as short and was actually quite hard/crunchy. In addition I didn't "fraisage" it as much as you recommended since I was really fearful of the butter melting on me.
Other than that I added a bit more maple syrup and more raisins (totally greedy of me).
Overall it was yummy.... will definitely be making it again.
Thanks again for the lovely recipe.

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