This post is especially for my coworker friend, who, upon receiving a slice of pie said "Hey are you going to blog about this? Then I'll have eaten something you blogged about!" Plus, the apples I used were picked by her family. So, here you go babe ;)
Anyway, one of my favorite blogs is Baker's Banter, written by the awesome people at King Arthur. A couple of weeks ago I came across this post, which is a step-by-step recipe for making a non-traditional apple pie. This pie is all about the crust. There's a slim layer of apple filling, providing just the right amount of tart sweetness, but the star is definitely the crust. And it should be! Unlike most crusts that I've made, this one incorporates cream cheese and bakes up to be, well, crusty, and flaky and delicious. (Actually, I baked up all of the crust scraps and ate those first. I think honestly, I could happily just cut all the dough into cookies and eat them with no filling at all.)
How much do I love this recipe? So much that this is my second time baking it in a week. The top picture is my first attempt, which I brought to the office and which elicited this assessment from my coworker: "very very good. Nice caramelization on the bottom and delicious crust to fruit ratio. Crust v. flaky and tasty, crispy. Good amt of sweetness. A winner!"
Have I mentioned that I love my coworkers? Anyway, I made it again today for a potluck I'm going to, and it looks like it's going to be just as tasty--it's just now also slightly better looking. For one thing, I actually rolled the crust into a round instead of a lopsided ellipse.
For another, I broke out some of these leaf cutters I've had kicking around for years--I don't even remember when I bought them (or hell, *if* I bought them. They might have been a gift.) I am pretty sure I've never used them, though. Anyway, they are easy to use--cut them and then there's a piece inside the cutter that stamps the leaf vein pattern on. Brush the backs with a little bit of milk and apply decoratively (or haphazardly, whatever) to your pie. Then the whole thing is brushed with more milk and sprinkled with coarse sugar.
Now you'll notice right away the difference in color between the first and second pies. That's because the lighting in my apartment sucks, and so I have to take all of my photos in my front window. And it's been damned cloudy lately! So, trust me--this one is just as gorgeous and brown. It's just nasty weather out.
Here's a closer look at some of the leaf cutouts. Pretty, right? I actually have it sitting on a cutting board; I don't own any plates large enough to hold this pie (it's about 10 inches across). And I am not carrying a cake stand on the subway! Anyway, hopefully it'll be well-received, and if not, then I'm going to eat pie for breakfast!
More Crust Less Filling Apple Pie, from Baker's Banter
For the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and diced
To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, and cream cheese in a bowl and beat (either with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand held mixer) until the cream cheese is broken up and the mixture is crumbly. Add the diced butter bits and cut in until the butter is mostly incorporated. This shouldn't take very long if you're using a stand mixer, and you should have lots of different sized pieces of butter. Don't be too thorough. You definitely want visible pieces of butter left because they will make your dough flaky. Sprinkle two tablespoons of ice water over the dough and toss with a fork until moistened; squeeze a handful to see if the dough will hold together. If not, add a tablespoon more of water at a time; you just want the dough to hold together. Gather into a ball, and divide in half, one piece slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least half an hour.
For the filling:
2-3 medium sized Fuji apples
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon butter
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 F. Roll out the larger half of the dough to an approximately 11" circle and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Trust me--you are definitely going to need the parchment. Peel, core, and halve the apples, then slice then into 1/4" slices crosswise. Toss with lemon juice. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and ginger and spread out evenly over the bottom crust. Arrange the apples on top in concentric rings (you don't HAVE to, but it indulges my OCD side). Dot with the tablespoon of butter (cut into bits). Roll out your second piece of dough, and cut several holes for steam vents--you can use cookie cutters or just cut steam vents free-hand. Depends on how fussy you want to get! Fold into quarters and center it on the apples; unfold! Fold the bottom crust edges over the top crust and press to seal. Brush the entire pie with a little milk and sprinkle sugar (coarse or granulated) over the top. Bake at 425 F for about 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 F and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and the apples are tender. My pie leaked a fair amount of juice, although it did not make the crust soggy. But you'll be glad you put that parchment paper down! Cool for at least an hour, then slice and enjoy.
(Another benefit of this type of thin pie is that you can slice it and eat it like a pizza slice, with your fingers. Convenient!)