When the recipe schedule was posted for Baked: New Frontiers, I was really excited about this classic apple pie. I haven’t made a “true” pie from any of the Baked cookbooks yet. Last Thanksgiving I made the sweet potato pie, but it used a gingersnap crust and although it was delicious, the oven I baked it in was so horrendous that I never wound up posting about it because my pictures are pretty terrible. [The oven did not heat evenly – I had a ripple effect, partially burnt crust, and a underbaked filling dilemma.]
Anyways, back to Baked: New Frontiers and the classic apple pie. After reading the recipe through a few times, I decided the Baked team has gotten much more precise when writing recipes over time…. these instructions have at least one gaping hole (and I wish I’d planned out my baking timeline better).
The pie dough comes together fairly effortlessly in a food processor, and then is meant to chill for at least an hour before it’s rolled out. It took me a few more pulses past what the recipe stated for the dough to come together, but once it did I had an extremely pliable, albeit tasteless, pie dough.
I rolled out both balls of dough because I wasn’t paying enough attention, placed one in my glass Pyrex pie dish and the other I simply wrapped in plastic wrap and put back in the refrigerator. I may have rolled out the crust a little too thinly, as I had quite a bit of overhang past the edge for both the top and bottom pieces, but there were no specific instructions about thinness in the recipe. I let both rolled-out crusts chill overnight in the refrigerator because I wasn’t paying enough attention; in the morning I realized that the pie crust bottom needed to be frozen prior to baking, so I slipped it into the freezer while I started peeling apples.
One of my complaints about this recipe is it calls for 7 medium Granny Smith apples, which in my opinion is a rather imprecise quantity. I bought a bag of small apples and used 9 of them, for a total weight of 751 g cored, peeled, then thinly sliced apples. For reference, the peeling, coring, and slicing process took me about an hour. I’m slow, but this is not a fast step.
It took a few minutes for my butter to brown, perhaps because I was worried about burning it. I had picked such a large pan that the butter spread out into a very thin layer. As soon as the butter smelled browned, I sautéed half the thin apple slices for 5 minutes only, then added the brown sugar and cornstarch mixture, followed by the remaining sliced apples. It took a minute or so for the sugar to melt, then I added the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a teaspoon and a half of French brandy. It took at least 7 minutes for the liquid to begin boiling, at which point, I transferred the apples and the cooking liquid in a large ceramic bowl.This brings me to the biggest problem I had with the recipe as written. There’s no transition between cooking the apples and placing the apples into the frozen pie crust, but in my experience, placing hot fruit in a frozen crust will result in a baking disaster, not a pie triumph. I really like the deep dish apple pie I’ve blogged about before from Cook’s Country, which has you pre-cook the apples and then spread them out in a thin layer for at least 30 minutes to cool. It also has you specifically add only a certain amount of the cooking liquid back into the pie. This time, I was in a bit of a time crunch, and I put the bowl of apples plus their cooking liquid into the freezer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to release some of the heat. After 30 minutes, I added the not-quite-cooled apples into my frozen pie bottom, placed the pie top over that, quickly brushed the top with the egg wash, sprinkled it with turbinado sugar, added 3 long vents, and rushed it into the oven (I could see my pie crust melting from the heat of the apples).
I baked my pie for about 65-70 minutes, at which point the vents were completely closed and I couldn’t actually see any juices bubbling, but I decided it must be finished baking because the crust visible through the glass pan was nicely browned (as was the top).
When filling the pie, it seemed like I should have had more apples, because the level of filling didn’t even reach the top of the pan, but I think it yielded a pretty reasonable filling to crust ratio (if you’re a crust kind of a person).
Pre-cooking the apples is done to prevent the gaping hole and/or soggy, undercooked bottom crust that plague many an apple pie. In this case, the pre-cooking solution did achieve that goal – there’s no sad air pocket here and everything cooked through nicely.
Sadly, I didn’t have time to stick around and try this apple pie, but my mom reports that after a day’s rest at room temperature, the crust had a nice toasty flavor and she rated it an 8/10 on her apple pie scale.