Wednesday, 22 August 2012

ITTP Prague: Apple Pie

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Apple pie is synonymous with a warm belly feeling, and for some another warm feeling (as demonstrated in the Hollywood blockbuster: American Pie). I for one prefer to EAT my pie and if pie wasn't SO fatty, I'd eat pie all day and every day. In the UK we have a whole range of pies which hold special memories for any Brit abroad; such as Steak and Kidney, Egg and Bacon, Minced Beef and Onion, and so on. In the States the pies tend to be more savory and among my other US eats loves, American style Apple Pie is up there in culinary heaven - along with Lox and Cream Cheese Bagels, New York style Pizza AND Cheese Cake, American gourmet Burgers, American Micro Brew Beer and of course the amber nectar from the Santa Monica State and Oregon Wineries. The following apple pie recipe is very basic and, well, easy as pie to make:

Ingredients (for the pastry) :

Half a teaspoon of salt 
2 and a half cups of flour
1 cup of butter, chilled and diced
Half a cup of iced water

Ingredients (for the filling) :

I used a variety of apples for this recipe (Click on photo to enlarge)

About 8 cups of cubed apple pieces
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of milk
1 egg yolk

1. Pastry:
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.

Coarse crumbs (Click on photo to enlarge)
- Mix in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Ball of dough (Click on photo to enlarge)
- Stir in the iced water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball.
- Wrap the dough in cellophane (plastic wrap) and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day take the dough out of the fridge.
- Sprinkle flour onto a rolling surface.

Divided ball of dough (Click on photo to enlarge)

Roll out dough (Click on photo to enlarge)
- Divide in half (1 half should be larger than the other).
- Roll out each half to fit the bottom of your pie dish (the larger half) , and the top of the pie dish (the smaller half).
- Lightly oil your pie dish either with butter or olive oil.
- Place the dough (crust) in your pie dish, pressing evenly into the bottom and sides.

2. Filling:

Sugars, flour and cinnamon combined in bowl (Click on photo to enlarge)
 - Combine the sugars, flour and cinnamon in a bowl.

Apples combined in bowl (Click on photo to enlarge)
- Add to the apples and coat well.

Pie dish filled with apple mixture (Click on photo to enlarge)
- Fill your pastry lined pie dish with the apple mixture.
- Dot with butter.

Second crust placed on dish (Click on photo to enlarge)

- Place the second crust on top of the pie filling, cutting slits in the top of the crust to act as vents.
- Seal the edges of the crust with a fork, or by hand.

Mixture brushed over the top of the crust (Click on photo to enlarge)
- In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and milk. Brush the mixture over the top of the crust.
- Bake at 220 Celcius (425 degrees Farenheit) for 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 175 Celcius (350 degrees Farenheit) and bake for 45 minutes further, or until the crust is golden.

Baked apple pie (Click on photo to enlarge)

Preparation Tip:

- I couldn't find a rolling pin so instead I used the cardboard inside of a whiteboard roll of paper. It worked just as well as a rolling pin.
- I also didn't have access to a conventional oven - I was using the wood fired stove; when your one is done it should look more evenly baked (mine tended to cook more in the middle but still was all completely tasty).
- Make sure to cut your apples into small pieces. If you cut large pieces then you will find that during the cooking process the apples will shrink and you will be left with empty space between the top of the apples and the crust otherwise.
- When your pie is ready, leave it for an hour to mature. It will cut better and taste better this way.
- I served my ITTP Prague apple pie with whipped heavy cream but custard would also work well, or ice-cream.
- Lastly, you should really peel your apples but I never do. This is partly because I can't be fussed with peeling and also because with most fruits and vegetables, the majority of the goodness is in the skin.

Pimp it up:

There are so many pimped up versions of this classic.
I even heard that Epic Meal Time added bacon strips to their's (respect brosephs).
I would assume that a perfect way of pimping up this classic would be to add a slosh of Calvados or plum brandy in the cooking process to give it a slight bite.
Or, you could follow the Scottish tradition and simply slap a batter over and deep fry the damn thing :-)

Hope it helps!

Dobrou chut!/Bon appetit!

Neville :-)