Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pie Dough

For Thanksgiving my Apple Pies are always requested. Though I think I'm going to have to make a pumpkin pie for my brother since that's really his favorite.  Anyway, I couldn't remember which recipe was my favorite and I just needed a basic recipe. As I started looking, I came across the most wonderful quote in Baking with Julia. "If you could have only one pie dough in your repertoire (HEAVEN FORBID), it would have to be this one, the classic dough that earns blue ribbons at country fairs and stars at esteemed pastry shops." After reading that how could you not try this recipe????  You can find the original recipe here.

But the original recipe contains shortening and I'm not a fan of using shortening and I don't have lard on hand. I prefer all butter and as long as you don't blend all the butter in and leave large chunks and cook it well enough... your dough will be crisp and flaky even the next day. It also doesn't contain any sweetener which I use to help the dough get that golden color and agave is my choice as it's better for you and doesn't add as much sweetness as regular sugar so it can be used with a savory filling as well. In addition a touch of salt helps the flavor. Have you even made a pie or eaten a pie where the dough tastes sort of like cardboard?  Well there's several reasons, crappy tasteless flour, not enough fat, not enough water and a little agave and a pinch of salt can help change that.

The original recipe also calls for a little more fat than my recipe but it's a lot easier to use a full pound of butter rather than 17 ounces and I don't think that one ounce is critical here.

Every year my pies are a little different, but the dough remains very consistent. The dough requires following the recipe but the filling is flexible. Your pie can be more or less sweet and the apples can vary, the amount of spice can change you can add other spices. It's important to know your oven and know your pans.  I prefer metal or aluminum pans because they cook better and the aluminum is recyclable and don't require cleaning. I don't like glass because it adds time and takes too long for the crust to cook on the bottom so I don't recommend that.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you can, let me know how it works for you!

Making Apple Pie (the dough can be used for any pie)

Blend together with your fingers for about two minutes then put into a stand mixer with a paddle

1.5 lbs all purpose flour
1 lb unsalted Plugra butter cut into pieces should be like wax cold but not rock hard
(I like the Plugra because it's got less water in it that other brands but any unsalted brand will do)

Combine together the water, salt and sweetener

3/4 to 1 cup ice cold water (you might need a little more it's hard to know)
2 Tablespoons light agave (you can also use white sugar or maple syrup or honey if you like)
a pinch of salt (whatever fits between your fingers.

With the mixer on low speed add the water in a steady pour on the quick side (NOT too slowly or it will over mix the dough)
Your dough should be soft and come together cleaning the bowl with large pieces of butter visible.
If the dough it too dry add a touch more if too wet don't worry just add some flour when shaping it into a ball and rolling it out.

Do Not over-mix the dough. Anyway at this point you will have a lot of dough, enough for 4 Rustic pies or two covered pies with some left over scraps you can use for cut-outs.
Divide it into 4 pieces approx 10 -11 ounces each.
Form into a ball and flatten to about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. if you are going to use the same day.
Otherwise it will last 1 day in the refrigerator to use the following day or 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Defrost for 1 day in the fridge.

Using a 9-9 1/2 inch pie pan Roll the dough into  a circle that hangs over approx 2 inches around on all sides. Place back into the refrigerator.


Preheat the oven to 420 F

3-3 1/2 large Granny Smith apples about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds of apples
Peeled and cored and sliced into 1/8 - 1/4 inch slices

Toss the apples with about 1 cup of loosely packed brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (fresh if you have, it can carefully be grated on a microplane) and the juice of 1 lemon. you should like the taste and can add some more sugar if it's not sweet enough.
The sugar will get liquidy and the apples will soften a bit and you should like the taste.

Then toss in a handfull of flour and toss all together.
Place the apples into the pie shell and add a tablespoon or two of the liquid.
Gather the dough and pleat it on top of the apples It will not cover the pie completely but leave an opening in the middle. Place a couple tablespoons of butter (in slices) on top cover with the optional crumb topping and bake.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teasp cinnaomon
mix together with your fingers until well blended.

Add to the top of your pie in the open space.
Bake at 420 for 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 400 rotate the pie, bake for another 15 minutes turning the pie in between until the crust is golden and the pie is bubbling. You can stick a skewer into the apples to test that they're done to your liking.

Note:  If baking your pie the day before, do not refrigerate overnight. Leave the pies out in a cardboard box they can be warmed just before serving and will retain crispness. If refrigerated or stored in a plastic container they will become soggy.

Have fun and enjoy!