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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions of the Apple Variety

Happy hump day dear readers! Today we must discuss the traditional food that claims the spotlight of every Thanksgiving meal (I'm not talking turkey here...obviously!). Let's talk about APPLE PIE and how we are going to make it more than hum drum, but rather quite spectacular this year! Here are 3 takes on the fruity dessert that make it better than anything the pilgrims ever expected! (Did they even eat apple pie?)

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust
Paul Grimes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably white), coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (trans-fat-free), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 to 8 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 pound Gala apples (3 medium)
  • 1 1/2 pound Granny Smith apples (3 medium)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
Make pastry dough: 
  1. Stir together flour, salt, and cheese in a large bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Add butter and shortening and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 6 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.
  2. Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.
  3. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in half, then form each half into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Make filling and bake pie: 
  1. Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Peel and core apples, then slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt until evenly coated.
  3. Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round.
  4. Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with milk, then cut 5 (1-inch-long) vents.
  5. Bake on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.
Cooks' Notes: Dough can be chilled up to 2 days or frozen up to 3 months.

Fried Apple Pies
Ronni Lundy

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup hot skim milk
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled and cut up
  • 2 cups unsulphured dried apple slices (7 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, combine the hot milk with the shortening and stir just until nearly melted; there should be a few pea-size pieces of shortening left. Add the flour and stir with a fork just until a dough forms. Gather the dough and knead until smooth. Roll the dough into a 6-inch log, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the apples with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft and the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes. Add the brown sugar and mash with a fork or potato masher until blended. Stir in the raisins and let cool.
  3. Cut the log of dough into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Working with half of the balls at a time, on a very lightly floured surface, roll out each ball to a 6-inch round. Brush the edges with water. Mound 2 heaping tablespoons of the apple filling on the lower half of each round. Fold the dough over the filling to make a half-moon, leaving a 1/2 -inch border; press the edges to seal. Using a lightly floured fork, crimp the edges decoratively. Transfer the pies to a large, lightly floured baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls of dough and filling.
MAKE AHEAD The pies can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight.

Apple Pie Bars
Cathy Odson

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup water, as necessary
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
  1. MAKE THE CRUST Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the sheet and 1/2 inch up the side. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden. Let cool on a rack.
  2. MAKE THE FILLING In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/4 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to each pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.
  3. MAKE THE TOPPING Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the walnuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.
  4. Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
MAKE AHEAD The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.

Happy baking! One week 'til apple time! (What, you thought I'd say turkey time? Heck no!)

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