This was going be a regular two crust apple pie to be served with wasabi ice cream celebratin’ local eating with an international flair, but then I remembered that Dutch apple pie is in reality, my favorite pie. (Cherry is in theory. I’ve just never had one that is good enough to be my favorite. So if you ask me what my favorite pie is I’ll say cherry, but it really is dutch apple.) So, why make something that’s close to that when I almost never get the dutch apple? Bah I say! Dutch Apple it is, or French Apple, or Apple Crumble – or whatever you want to call it. It’s all the same difference to me, flaky crust, plump apples that still are holding on to enough of their original form to bite back if they need to and topped with some lovely buttery crumble topping. And since the wasabi ice cream would never go with the crumble topping I decided to make some cinnamon brandy ice cream instead.
I thought this would be a quick, make a pie write it down sort of a thing – but I was wrong. The first one I made was simply – boring. No spark at all. Nothing to make a girl sit down and say, “DAMN, I LOVE PIE.” I love pie, so I want a pie that’s worthy of my undying affection. I put the question to Marv. He made a thinking look with his face and said, “apple puree.” I thought to myself, “gosh, I’m glad I married you.” And then thought, “Yeah… apple puree sweetened with caramel sauce… oooooh.. buttermilk-caramel sauce, with applejack brandy and five spice rather than cinnamon. That will do it. Wow, he is convenient.”
The crust was simple to figure out – it’s based on the only recipe I ever follow – but I’ve rewritten it for myself. The original recipe is Rose Levy Beranbaum’s flaky pie crust. If you don’t have her Pie and Pastry Bible, go out and buy it. Now. And then read it. I’m kidding, I don’t care what you do, but her book made me a half the baker I am today (the other half would be marv who was a chef in bakery/cafe dealie for awhile) so it’s worth reading.
The crumble was definitely going to be the normal crisp that I make but with something crispy rather than chewy like oatmeal. I chose cornmeal – just a tish to give it a bit of crunch. Then I also adjusted the fat and sugars to give it a bit more flavor and a certain softness. For the fats I chose butter and peanut oil for flavor. And used more brown sugar to white sugar because the first version ended up a bit tough.
The cinnamon brandy ice cream is the perfect accompaniment. You may think that I’m overdoing it a bit on the brandy front with it being in the pie and the ice cream, but it’s really a nice under-flavor not bopping you over the head with it. And it really does just round out the pie so well.
Hey! That’s a Dutch Apple Pie!
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 c cake flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
14 T butter
5 T ice water
1 T apple cider vinegar
Toss the dry ingredients into a bowl and stick it in the freezer. Stick a cup of water into the freezer too. Cut up the butter into 3/4 T cubes. Put 1/3 of those cubes into the freezer and 2/3rds into the refrigerator. Let it hang out for 30 minutes or more.
Transfer dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse 2 times. Add in the butter from the refrigerator and pulse until it resembles coarse meal – 10 – 15 pulses. Add in the frozen butter and pulse until it is pea sized – about 7 pulses. Add in cider and water pulse until it will stick together when pinched. Transfer to a large piece of plastic wrap. Pull in the corners and kneed the dough together until the gluten is worked enough to pull slightly. Mold into two chunky discs and stick back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to a week. (Note: anytime the crust gets too warm – sweaty, butter looking melty and the like, just stick it in the frige for 10 – 20 minutes to firm up again.)
3lb bag organic granny smith apples (about 12 small apples)
juice from half a lemon
sprinkle of salt
2 T butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c + 1 T buttermilk
2 T brandy
2 t vanilla
2 t chinese five spice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
Peel and core 5 of the apples. (Tip: I’ve tried every freakin’ apple coring gadget this side of 1890 and they all suck. What does work for me is peeling with a veggie peeler, cutting them in half, and scooping out the seeds and stems with a melon baller.) Cut the apples into rough chunks. Put them into a non-stick pan that’s been heating over medium heat, add in lemon juice and sprinkle with some salt (this helps them to release their liquid.) Cover the pan and cook them over medium heat stirring them pretty frequently.
While the apples are cooking, make the sauce. Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add in brown sugar and 1/2 c of the buttermilk. Bring to a boil and let bubble until thick – about 5 – 10 minutes. Keep a very close eye on this and swirl the pan occasionally. If it burns a little it won’t matter much – but if it burns a lot you get to start over again.
When the sauce has thickened, remove it from heat and stir in last T of buttermilk. Stir in the rest of filling ingredients. Test the cooking apples, if they are easily mashed with a fork they are done. That being the case, mash them all with a fork or a potato ricer if you have one. Add the sauce into the mashed apples, or vice versa and set aside to cool.
Preheat your oven to 425°f.
Take the crust dough from the refrigerator and roll it out the crust between two sheets of plastic wrap, parchment paper or silicon mats. (Tip: the best way to roll out a crust is to turn the crust itself about an 8th of a turn between rolls and then just roll away from you. When you keep rolling it out like it’s a clock – and noon is always in front of you it’s easier to keep it round and you can get a good rhythm going.) Once the crust is big enough to fit into your pan (you can estimate that by holding the pan over your crust – when it is about an inch to inch and a half wider all the way around the pan you are done.) Pull off the top wrapper and place pie dish upside down on it. Flip them both over and gently ease the crust into the contours of the pie pan. Trim the excess crust off with scissors. Decorate edges by crimping or making fork marks every couple of inches or so or however fancy you want to get.
Check out my fancy crust. (Alright, so a bit of it broke off. I still like it.)
Place a sheet of parchment paper on the crust filled with dried beans. (If you don’t do this it will puff up or slide down.) Place crust in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take the crust out and remove beans from crust. Poke bottom with a fork and stick back in the oven for 5 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes.
While the crust is pre-baking; peel, core and slice the rest of the apples into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices and fold them gently into the puree mixture. You want them to be completely covered.
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
2/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c white sugar
1 T yellow corn meal, wheat germ or crushed oats
5 T butter, melted
2 T peanut oil (or other oil if you have it, if not just use butter)
Put dry ingredients in a bowl and toss with a fork. Add in butter and oil and toss until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
The stackery is next. Filling goes into the crust followed by a careful adding of crumbly bits on top. I tend to scoop and drizzle out of my hands in specific spots. Once the pie is covered with crumble, transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes – or until it’s bubbling out. You want to keep an eye on it and if the top or the sides get to brown cover them with aluminum so that they don’t get black. (Black crust doesn’t taste very good.)
Let cool a bit and serve with brandy cinnamon ice cream. (Oh, oh. It’s not written yet. I’ll let you know when it is!)
* This crust recipe will make enough for a couple of pies. My pie pan is sorta big so I use this recipe for a double crust and then I save slightly less than half of it for another time. It will refrigerate for a week or so and freeze for months. Just thaw in the frige the day before you’re going to need it.