I loved Elizabeth’s pie pie chart yesterday – in case you missed it, she’s been asking everyone she interviews about their favourite kind of pie, and then compiled them together in – what else? – a pie chart. It’s no surprise that one of the most popular picks is apple – since they’re in season now, and it’s getting chilly enough outside that I want to turn the oven on and bake, I thought it would be timely to share an apple pie recipe here for those who would pick an apple pie above all others.
(It’s near the top of my list too.)
Michael drove up to Jasper for the event with us, and we chatted about music in the car – he talked about a day he had scheduled for writing his next cookbook, when he took the opportunity to play the entire Led Zeppelin discography back to back as he wrote, something he always wanted to do, and it was awesome. (The English band produced nine studio albums and four live albums, as well as nine compilation albums.)
While you’re baking, you’ll have just enough time to watch/listen to Led Zeppelin Live at the Royal Albert Hall circa 1970 – the full concert. Can you think of a better way to spend a wintry afternoon?
If you’ve never made pastry from scratch, now’s the time to – Michael’s pastry secret is frozen butter. Butter adds better flavour than shortening or lard, and when it’s frozen, it’s easy to grate into the flour. Use whatever variety of tart apple you like (I like using a combination for a more complex flavour), and Michael suggests tossing the apples with a cup or so of raisins, or substituting 2 1⁄2 lb (1.25 kg) peeled, sliced ripe local peaches for the apples.
Because we live so close to BC and apples are in season, this fits with The Canadian Food Experience Project – a year-long initiative that has Canadian food bloggers sharing stories of our regional food experiences. The topic this month – our sixth challenge – is our Canadian harvest; apples aren’t a big Alberta crop, but they grow close by, and Chef Michael Smith is a Canadian food icon, so that counts – right? The beautiful top pie photo was taken by James Ingram.
Old-Fashioned Apple Pie
Reprinted with permission from The Best of Chef at Home, by Michael Smith (Whitecap)
2 1⁄2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30 mL) white sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
2 sticks (1 cup / 250 mL) frozen butter
12 tablespoons (180 mL) water
6 or 8 large Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30 mL) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.
Using a standard box or potato grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour and toss lightly with your fingers until it’s thoroughly combined. Sprinkle in the ice water and stir with your fingers, mixing and firmly kneading until the dough comes together in a ball.
Divide dough into 2 pieces; making sure that one half is slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten and chill for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight. Resting tenderizes the pastry, making it easier to roll.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly, just until it’s pliable. Lightly flour your hands, the rolling pin, your work surface and the dough.
Roll out the larger pastry piece into a circle large enough to slightly overlap the edges of a 9-inch (23 cm) glass deep-dish pie dish. As you roll, for ease of handling, lightly flour the dough every time its diameter doubles, then flip it over and continue rolling. Transfer the dough to the pie dish by folding it into quarters, then unfolding it in the dish.
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Toss the apple slices with the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the apple mixture to the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining smaller piece and carefully place it over the top of the pie.
Roll and crimp the edges of the dough together, tightly sealing them. Poke a few vent holes into the top of the pie and place on the bottom rack of your oven. Bake for an hour or so, until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling.