Jan 4, 2015

"As American As Apple Pie"

Old-Fashioned Double-Crust Apple Pie
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The first apple trees were brought to the New World by the Pilgrims who carried apple spurs with them from England. It was the Pennsylvania Dutch, who came over in the 18th century (and who were, of course, German, and not Dutch) who perfected apple pies and made them a famous part of American cuisine.

American soldiers during World War II did their part to popularize the apple pie. When asked by journalists why they were going to war, a common slogan used as a response was, “For mom and apple pie”. The phrase was picked up by writers who turned it into "as American as Mom and Apple Pie". By the 1960s, Mom got left out and the phrase appeared as it does today. Apple pie was quickly adopted as “the” American thing by the 1960s.

The closest thing to an apple growing in Hawaii is the pineapple, apple banana, mountain apple, or if you are a guy, your adam's apple, none of which are related to real apples. Hawaii has an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown locally, but not apples. We get our apples from the mainland, where nearly 90 percent of our grocery items come from.

Photo by Scott Bauer
We usually see 5 or 6 varieties of apples in our grocery stores, but their are many different kinds of apples, 7500 known cultivars to be exact. 

Most people consider the crisp and acidic Granny Smith apple to be the best apple for apple pie, however many cooks use a combination of apples, which add more flavor and texture to the pie, such as the sweet, juicy and tangy, Mcintosh apple. Other apple pie apples might include the Gala, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Jonathan, even the Fuji apple. The worst apple for baking is the Red Delicious apple. These apples are sweet, crisp and grainy. They lack a tart element and a rich apple flavor, which is what makes apple pie so great.

It's also good to know why they say "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". The fact is that apples are low in calories and free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. They are also rich in fiber, disease-fighting anti-oxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals including potassium, folate, niacin and vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Eating apples has been associated with lower risk of a variety of cancers, stroke and diabetes. In addition, these nutritional powerhouses may help protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and even lower a person’s risk of tooth decay.

Now that you know what the apple can do for your health, here is what apple pie can do for your sweet tooth:

Old-Fashioned Double-Crust Apple Pie
Ingredients for crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled
1/4 cup ice water

Ingredients for filling:
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small dice
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar*, for sprinkling

9 or 10-inch deep-dish glass pie plate

Procedure:
In a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse in 1-second bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle the ice water over the dough and pulse in 1-second bursts until it just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather any crumbs and pat it into 2 disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. On a floured work surface, roll out 1 disk of the dough to a 12-inch round, a scant 1/4 inch thick. Ease the dough into a 9 or 10-inch deep-dish glass pie plate. Roll out the second disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a wax paper–lined baking sheet and refrigerate.
In a bowl, combine the apples with the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the lemon zest and juice and toss well. Let stand for 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves slightly.

Scrape the apples and any juices into the pie plate and dot with the butter. Cover with the top crust and gently press the edges together. Trim the overhanging dough to about 1 inch and pinch to seal. Fold the dough rim under itself and crimp decoratively, or use the tines of a fork to press and seal the crust edge. Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Cut 3 small gashes in the top of the pie to vent the steam.

Bake the pie on the lowest shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 365°F and bake the pie for 45 to 50 minutes longer, until the fruit juices are bubbling through the steam vents and the crust is deeply golden on the top and bottom; cover the pie loosely with foil halfway through baking to keep it from getting too dark. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 8 servings.

*Note: Turbinado sugar is a sugar cane-based, minimally refined sugar. It is medium brown in color and has large crystals. It's often mistaken for traditional brown sugar because of its light brown color, but it's made in a different way. Turbinado sugar is a popular topping for cinnamon cookies and toast, and is commonly used in graham cracker piecrusts. Chefs may also use it on creme caramel, since it melts and caramelizes well. Given its higher moisture content, it can harden if exposed to too much air. Manufacturers recommend storing it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Honey Apple Crumble
Ingredients:
4 cups peeled, sliced apples (Golden Delicious, Jonathan, or Granny Smith)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 375°F, and butter a 1-1/2 quart baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the apples, 1/4 cup brown sugar, lemon juice and honey. Toss to coat apple slices, and pour into baking dish.

In a small bowl, cut the butter into the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon and salt. Sprinkle mixture over apples, and top with pecans.

Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbly and brown on top. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Apple Galette
A galette is a rustic French tart, but at the end of the day it is just a pie without a plate. I make this same recipe using fresh sliced apples, pears, or plums.
Apple Galette
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Ingredients for crust:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Ingredients for filling:
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 cup apricot preserves
Whole milk

Procedure:
For the crust, blend flour and salt in processor. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons ice water and blend just until dough begins to clump together, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep dough chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Roll out dough between sheets of parchment paper to 1/8-inch-thick round, 14 inches in diameter. Remove top sheet of parchment. Using bottom sheet as aid, transfer dough on parchment to large unrimmed baking sheet. Chill 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine apple slices, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon peel in medium bowl; toss to blend. Spread preserves over crust, leaving 1 1/2-inch plain border. Arrange apple slices in concentric circles atop preserves, overlapping slightly. Using parchment as aid, fold plain crust border up over apples, pinching any cracks in crust. Brush crust with milk. Sprinkle crust edges and apples with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake galette 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until crust is golden, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Slide long thin knife between parchment and galette. Let stand at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.
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