Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Epic Apple Pie with Corn Meal Crust

Everyone needs a treat on their birthday. Cake, pie, ice cream, whatever…this year, I made an apple pie for my Dad. Last year, it was apple cake (apple kuchen). I have been on a pie-kick lately, so apple pie just felt natural. This baby is chock-full of apples, a whopping 2.5 pounds. A double-recipe of pastry is needed for a double crust pie, since lattice top doesn't really work so well with large chunks of apple that shrink so much when cooked. 

This thing weighed a whopping 4.5 lbs at the end…hence "Epic" in the name
Being super kitsch-tastic, I adorned the top of the pie with mini leaves, cut from a vintage canapĂ© cutter set that I acquired last summer when visiting a friend in Minneapolis. 

To jazz the pastry up a bit, I added some finely-ground locally sourced and milled corn meal. I find that this adds fluff, a subtle flavor, as well as a nice yellow-tint and great texture. The pasty is made in the traditional way, as noted in the pumpkin pie post and rhubarb pie post. Only this time, a layer of pastry blankets the top of the pie, creating a golden dome of flakey-awesomeness.

This pie would be fabulous for thanksgiving, or for just eating for pleasure. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, you're in business. Now, gather your apples and make some pastry-and make this pie!

Apple Pie with Cornmeal Crust
Makes one, 10" pie


For the Filling:
2.5 pounds apples, peeled, cored, quartered and cut into 1/3” wide by 1” long slices
2 TB butter, cubed
1 TB cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
zest and juice of one lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 TB honey
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 TB tapioca, finely ground

For the Pastry:
2 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
2 sticks chilled butter, cubed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup ice water
¼ cup vodka
1 egg and 1 TB water, for egg wash

Cutting board
Paring knife
Two large bowls, one for filling and one for pastry
Measuring cups and spoons
Pastry cutter or fork
Rolling pin
Pastry brush
Baking sheet

Make the filling by combining the cut apples with the diced butter, spices, lemon zest and juice, honey, brown sugar, salt and tapioca. Mix well, set aside. Can be made up to 1 day in advance. Store in the fridge, tightly covered with plastic wrap touching the surface of the apples.

Make the pastry by sifting the dry ingredients. Finley grind the cornmeal in a food processor or a coffee grinder/spice mill. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork, ½ at a time, combining the second portion a bit less for larger clumps. Sprinkle over the water and vodka, and mix with a fork or a pastry cutter until the pastry comes together, and sticks together when squeezed in hand. Scoop the pastry on a well-floured surface, and form into a disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Remove filling (if made in advance) and pastry from fridge, allow to come to room temp. Cut the pastry in half, making once half slightly larger than the other; this will be the bottom crust. Roll out the bottom crust to fit into a 10” diameter pie plate or tin. Fit and trim the edges for a 1” overhang. Scoop in the apple filling. 
A mountain of apples, with flakey-cornmeal pastry.
Roll out the top pastry, and trim for a 1” overhang. Match-up the bottom and top overhangs, pressing together slightly, then folding under to make a neat edge. Flute the edges as desired. Poke 8 steam vents in any design in the center of the pie.

If desired, make decorations in autumnal shapes from the reserved pastry (above). Scoring the backs of the shapes with a paring knife and dipping in the egg wash will secure them to the top of the pie. Brush the entire top with egg wash with a pastry brush, or you could use your fingers if you are lacking a pastry brush.
Ready for the oven!
Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake at 425F for 25 minutes, then reduce to 375F and bake for 35-54 minutes longer, until the top pastry is golden and filling is bubbling.

Cool, and serve as desired. 

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