Wednesday, April 21, 2010

caramel apple pie: practice makes caramel appley delights


Ok ok, so I know that apple pies are usually made in autumn when the leaves start changing colours, the air gets crisper, we start wearing cozy sweaters, boots and cute hats and maybe even stay at home with a hot cup of tea…(can you tell it’s my favorite season?)…but when one has a pie exam coming up, it’s only natural to practice by making an apple pie. I love apple pies, they’re so classic, yet always delicious. When done right, the crust provides a nice flakiness to the juicy pieces of apple and cinnamon. There’s just nothing like eating a piece of apple pie still warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
So normally at school we would use shortening instead of butter to make the dough because it provides a bit more elasticity, but butter is usually what most people use. Pâte brisée is the most basic recipe for pies. It’s usually used for covered fruit pies and savoury pies (like quiche and pot pies, also some of my most favorite things to eat eveeeer!) The dough is meant to be kind of crumbly but it’ll come together when rolled out. Also, to make this pie even more exciting, I decided to add some caramel to it to give it an even more delicious taste! Seriously, I almost didn’t make the pie because I just wanted to eat the apple slices covered with caramel.
Mmmmm.
Caramel Apple Pie
Yields one double-crust 9-inch pie
Ingredients 

For the pâte brisée (or pâte à tarte):

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
¼ to 1/3 cup of ice cold water
Plus about ½ tbsp sugar
For the filling:
7-8 medium apples (I used McIntosh)
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon (or more if you want!)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup caramel coulis (I bought a ready-made sauce, like what you would put over a Sundae)
1 tbsp unsalted butter, small pieces
Procedure

For the pâte brisée:
Start off by mixing the sugar in the water until completely dissolved. For pie dough you can either use a food processor or do it manually. If you have a food processor, mix the flour and salt together in the bowl and add the pieces of cold butter. Pulse, about 30 seconds, until you have coarse crumbs up to ½ inch in size - do not over-mix. If you don’t have a food processor, you can easily mix by hand using a pastry blender to cut the butter.
Now, whether you have a food processor or not, I like to take the mixture out and into a large bowl before adding the water, because otherwise the water won’t reach all the way down when you add it in the food processor. So make a small well and add about 1/8 cup of water and mix using the palm of your hand (this is called fraisage). Add more water if needed to combine everything together. Don’t add too much water though otherwise your dough will be too sticky! Everything should just stick together. Flatten dough into two disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate about 30 minutes.
For the filling:
Preheat oven to 400oF. Peel, core and slice the apples. In a large bowl, mix apples with the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour. Add about ¼ cup of caramel sauce or more if you want! Mix and set aside.
Roll out one disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing into the edges. (When rolling out, add a bit of flour to the top of the disk and the rolling pin, just enough so the dough doesn’t stick) Trim the overhang to about ½ inch. Fill with apple mixture and dot with small pieces of butter. Roll out the second disk a bit larger than the first. Brush sides of the filled shell with water or egg wash and place cover on top, pressing down onto the sides to seal together. Trim top overhang to about 1 inch and tuck underneath the bottom shell. You can either make slits or a hole in the middle to allow the steam to escape. I decorated my pie with the excess dough using leaf-shaped cutters. You can decorate yours however you wish! Brush top with water or egg wash and sprinkle with granulated or coarse sugar. Bake on lower third rack for about 45-60 minutes, depending on your oven, until golden brown and juice is bubbling. If you find that the top is baking too quickly, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning. Cool completely on a wire rack and store at room temperature. Oh, and enjoy!

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