Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Apple Pie with a Flaky Cream Cheese Crust
This pie recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book, “The Pie and Pastry Bible”. This tome of 692 pages is filled with most every variation of pie that you could imagine. The instructions are straightforward and provide details for making crusts by hand and using the food processor. The only drawback of this book is the limited amount of photos: only 24 colorful pages in the middle of the book give a glimpse into all that is delicious in Ms. Beranbaum’s book. I understand that a photo with each recipe would have lengthened this book considerably, so I hope to share a few photos here of desserts I make using the book’s recipes. That way the desserts will be fresh in my mind long after the last crumb leaves my plate!
This flaky cream cheese crust is mentioned as Ms. Beranbaum’s favorite of the book. She has done extensive trial and error before finally reaching her best recipe. I found this crust to be forgiving and easy to work with—small holes due to my lack of rolling pin skills were easily patched and not noticeable for example. Best part of all: the crust was tender and light once cooked and it held its shape beautifully without shrinking much at all in the pie pan. Please consult the book for full instructions, I’ll share the ingredients and then the approach I followed.
12 TB unsalted butter, cold
2 cups of All purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
4.5 ounces of cream cheese, cold
2 TB ice water
1 TB cider vinegar
This pie does not come together quickly. There are a number of steps that include waiting time, either for ingredients to cool or for the dough to rest. Keep that in mind and plan ahead when you follow this recipe.
1. Cut the butter in small cubes, place in a zip loc bag and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Also put the flour, salt and baking powder in a freezer zip loc bag and freeze for 30 minutes.
2. Using the food processor and its metal blade, process the flour mixture with a few pulses. Then cut the cold cream cheese into smaller pieces and add it to the processor. Process for about 20 seconds then add the frozen butter and pulse until all of the pieces are smaller than the size of a pea.
3. Add the vinegar and butter, pulse again until the dough has no pieces larger than a pea. The dough will not come together in a ball yet. Put it all in a plastic bag (half at a time if that is easier) and knead the mixture, pushing it with your hands touching the outside of the bag, until it comes together.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap then refrigerate it overnight (or at least for 45 minutes if you are short on time).
The book titles this particular apple pie, “The Best All-American Apple Pie,” and it will become my go-to apple pie recipe. The trick is concentrating the apple flavor by reducing the liquid into a caramel-like syrup before baking the pie.
2 1/2 pounds of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (8 cups, I used 8 apples)
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 TB butter
1 TB plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1. I used my handy apple peeler-corer to prepare the apples. The apples should be 1/4 inch thick and uniform in size so that they layer nicely in the pie.
2. Add the lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, salt and (and nutmeg if you wish) to the apples and stir gently to coat the apples thoroughly. Let the apples macerate (sit out) at room temperature for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
In the mean time, roll out your bottom crust dough to a thin 1/8 inch and 12 inches round. Put it in the pie pan, trim the edges, then cover it again with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours. I also rolled out the top crust dough at this time and let it rest laying flat in the refrigerator for the same length of time.
3. After the apples have macerated, pour them into a colander sitting over a bowl so that you catch the liquid, hopefully at least 1/2 cup of liquid.
4. Boil this liquid over high heat, adding the butter as well, until you have only about 1/3 cup and it looks caramelized. The recipe says to swirl but not to stir the liquid for best results.
5. Move the apples into a bowl and toss with cornstarch.
6. Add the syrup to the apples and mix gently.
7. Assemble the pie: put the apple ingredients in the pie shell, cover with the top crust and seal the edges. Make about 5 cuts in the pie around the center. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for a an hour.
Cooking the pie:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. At least 20 minutes before you are ready to bake the pie, place a foil-lined baking sheet on the lowest rack. This step helps the bottom of the crust bake evenly.
Put the pie on the baking sheet and cook for 45-55 minutes, or until you see the juices bubbling up through the vents you cut in the pie crust. You may want to cover the edges of the pie after 30 minutes to protect from too much browning.
Let this pie cool for 4 hours before cutting.
Yes, this pie does require patience in numerous waiting stages but it is worth it when you bite into this dense apple pie. I am going to continue reading this Pie Bible and am excited to learn more. Incidentally, the author first wrote a book called “The Cake Bible” so you can guess what is next on my reading list!
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