This week's dessert was a special request from a very good friend. It's also an American icon, Classic Apple Pie. For the recipe I turned to Martha Stewart, it's from her book Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook which I received as a gift from my parents last week. I've been reading this book and the other one they gave me like novels for the past week and they not only have many wonderful recipes but they have clear instructions, many pictures and loads of baking tips and techniques to make you a better baker. This is just the way I like cookbooks to be and I can't wait to put them both to good use.
Last night I measured the crust ingredients and set them to cool overnight in the fridge. Cold ingredients make the best crust. Yesterday I went out and bought a food processor, I've wanted one since I started baking but I kept putting it off, not wanting to spend the extra money. Finally I caved and bought a very reasonably priced one at MegaMart. I put it to work this morning on the pie crust. I pulsed the flour and salt together, then added the butter and pulsed a few more times before adding the ice water. I divided the dough in half, wrapped each piece in plastic wrap, formed them into discs and chilled them in the fridge for 2 hours. I could've made the pie crust by hand, but certainly not as quickly or efficiently as the food processor did. I like my new toy :)
After removing the dough discs from the fridge I rolled them both into 12inch discs on sheets of parchment. I fitted the first one to my glass pie plate then I returned both to the refrigerator. While they chilled, I began to prepare the apples. The recipe calls for an assortment of many different cooking apples. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of having many different varieties of cooking apples available to me in Jamaica's grocery stores. In fact the only cooking apple which is readily available is the Granny Smith. However, I decided to take a pointer from Bake!: Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking and use an equal mixture of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. While peeling, coring and slicing I said to myself, "Buy an apple corer!" It was a nightmare trying to take the core out with a paring knife.
When I was finally done I combined my sliced apples with lime juice (couldn't find lemons), sugar, cinnamon, flour and nutmeg. Then I piled it into the pie shell. It took me so long to prepare the apples that the pie dough spent more time in the fridge than it was supposed to, and by the time I took it out it was quite hard. But a few minutes in the hot Jamaican weather and it was just right to work with.
I then brushed the edges with egg wash. I made the egg wash with whole milk instead of cream because I already had the milk and it seemed like a waste of money to buy a carton of cream to use only one tablespoon. I laid the top crust over the filled pie shell and pressed the top and bottom together. I used my handy kitchen shears to trim the sides, then I folded the edges under and used a fork to crimp them. I covered the resulting pie in egg wash and gave it a generous sprinkling of sugar. Again I was forced to make a substitution based on availability, I couldn't find sanding sugar so I used granulated sugar. Then I made three slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape during baking. I tucked this bad boy in the freezer for 30 minutes.
After preheating the oven to 400 degrees, I placed my very first apple pie on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put it in the oven. I baked it for 20 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 350 and baked it for another 50 minutes, rotating its position from lower third to upper third of the oven half way through.
It smelled amaaaazing in the last 15minutes of baking when the juices were super bubbly. I let it cool for a painful 3 hours. I really had to try hard not to cut it. My friends arrived just in time to cut their special request.
I did good, not only was it stunning, it was delicious. The crust was flaky and buttery, the apples were tender and the two types of apples worked well together. If I were to make any adjustments, I would reduce the citrus a bit because I found the filling a little too tangy and I'd add more spice. I'm a spice lover, I love me some cinnamon and nutmeg, so I'd dial that up a bit. My first apple pie, well, my first pie all together was a success, and not nearly as complicated as I thought it would be.