Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's Apple Season!!!

I'll be honest, I am NOT a fan of the fall and winter when it comes to the weather. It gets way too cold for me, leaving me absolutely, insanely miserable. But what I CAN appreciate about this change in season are the holidays, which means lots of cooking, and new produce at the Farmer's Market! Especially apples! And there always lots of them!

Over the years I have become obsessed with eating apples. I love tasting the difference between each variety and each season, I seem to discover something new. Among my favorites are the Nittany and the Jonagold. When the apple season hits, we immediately crave one thing...APPLE PIE! I only make it once, possibly twice, every year when the season hits, so its a rare treat that gets a lot of appreciation.

Now, I am one to make everything from scratch, so baking an apple pie takes literally hours and days to do; but its so worth it. I just put my headphones on and get baking. To me, there's something satisfying about being in the kitchen all day and laboring over one or two dishes. Its my own form of therapy and in the end, I have this sense of pride and accomplishment. I love it! Last weekend, I got to experience those wonderful feelings when my husband and I discovered that I had finally perfected my apple pie recipe! The crust was perfectly crisp with no burns; the apples were soft yet still crisp and they held into place perfectly. And best of all? No watery, runny juice to ruin the bottom of the pie crust! I was ecstatic!

Of course, I had to share and while I wish I could bake for every single one of you, I can't. But what I can do is provide you the recipe. It is important to note that when it comes to baking, perfection comes with repetition, experience and trusting your instinct. Follow the recipe, but use it as a guide. There's no doubts you will have to make a few tweaks.

Remember, be patient and take your time...you'll need lots of it if you want it to be perfect!

If you have questions, please fell free to comment! I look forward to hearing how your vegan apple pie turns out!


My Dutch Apple Pie Experiment

Double Pie Crust
  • 4 oz. or ½ cup of cold vegan butter, cut into small cubes (Earth Balance sticks preferably)
  • 4 oz. o ½ cup of cold vegetable shortening, cut into small cubes (Earth Balance sticks preferably)
  • 2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tbsp. of vegan granulated sugar
  • 5 to 7 tbsp. ice cold water
Filling: (For 1 Pie)
  • 6-10 apples – pick a variety that are tart, sweet, semi-dry, and starchy
  • 1/4 cup vegan granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch

Crumble Topping: (For 1 Pie)
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegan granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (or less) cold vegan butter, cut into ½ inch thick cubes
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the Double Pie Crust:

Sift together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Refrigerate the bowl and flour for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the butter and shortening into small ¼-1/2 inch cubes. Place in a bowl and place in the freezer until fully firm before using.

First, cut the butter into the flour (a food processor provides the best results). Add the shortening and cut the shortening into the flour mix until it resembles coarse meal. Be sure to keep everything cold! If it starts warming up, place it all back into the freezer and wait a few minutes before it cools down and is ready to handle again. Earth balance is touchy and melts quickly.

Next, add the water, beginning with 3-4 tbsp, and then adding 1 tbsp. at a time afterwards, mixing with your hands until the mixture holds together when squeezed. It may seem dry and crumbly, but if it holds together when pressed together, then it’s good to go. Pour the dough out onto your work surface, divide the dough in half, and shape each half into disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. The longer the better.

After 24 hours or when ready to bake, remove one disk from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes so the dough softens and becomes pliable. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 12 inch circle. Gently transfer dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the edges, cover with plastic wrap and place back into the fridge until ready to bake.

For the Crumble Topping:

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter into the dry mixture until it resembles a course crumb. Note, you may not use all the butter. It should be similar to the pie crust where it’s crumbly, but will hold together when pressed. Place back in the fridge until ready to use.

For the Filling:

Core, peel and slice the apples into ½ inch thick slices. Place the apple slices into a large colander. Sit the colander over a bowl or pan to allow the apples to drain as they macerate. Mix the apple slices with the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Allow the apples to macerate between 30 minutes to 2 hours. After the apples have macerated and about ½ cup of juice has been produced, drain the apples thoroughly and pour the collected juice into a small saucepan. Add 1 tbsp unsalted butter and boil the juice over medium to medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until it the juiced has reduced to about 1/3 cup and has becomes syrupy and lightly caramelized. Set aside and allow to cool.

Place the apple slices in bowl, add the cornstarch and toss til well coated. Pour the cool syrup over the apple slices and toss again til well coated.

To Assemble and Bake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the oven rack in the middle.

Remove the pie crust from the fridge, unwrap, and fill with seasoned apples, making sure to fill in all gaps. Pour 1-2 tbsp. of remaining juices over the apples. Top the apples with the crumb topping, covering all nooks and crannies and pressing down to make sure it is settled in. Cover the pie crust with foil to prevent burning. Set the pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the juices start to become bubbly, the apples feel tender when a toothpick is inserted, and when the crumb topping has become crispy and golden brown. 

Remove the Pie from the oven and place on cooling rack for about 3 hours before cutting and serving.

Store in the refrigerator.

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