The apple pie has become a symbol of American prosperity and national pride since the 19th Century and although we are an Italian and Mediterranean restaurant we couldn't leave out this traditional American favorite.
Much of your success comes down to selecting the right apples. You need a variety that tastes both sweet and tangy, with a texture that will hold its shape during baking. My favorite is the widely available - Granny Smith variety.
One special trick I like to do when making an apple pie filling is to saute the apples with butter and sugar to caramelized them. This gives the apples a more complex and flavorful taste to your pie.
Granny Smith Apple Tart
Once your pie dough and apples are ready, you're just over an hour away from a freshly baked pie. Rolling out the dough and filling the pie takes just a few minutes. Don't worry if it doesn't look perfect; rustic-style pies that actually look homemade can be even more appealing. Take special care to bake your pie long enough so that the crust turns crisp and deep golden brown.
Granny Smith Apple Tart
Dough: 1 pie, 8 servings
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound unsalted butter, chilled
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Calvados, or applejack, optional
First, will mix the dough. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor. Pulse the machine on and off a few times. Scatter the butter evenly inside. Process until the mixture resembles a coarse mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream this will give you a rich dough. With the machine running, add this mixture and continue processing until the dough comes together. Carefully remove from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
To prepare the filling, melt six tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to turn brown, add the apples and sprinkle with both sugars and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugars have turned thick, dark brown, and bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes. The apples should still be firm. Stir in the Calvados, if using. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spread the apple mixture in it to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, remove the dough from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the ball of dough into two halves, one slightly larger than the other. Place the smaller half cut side down on a lightly floured work surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll it out to an even circle 11 inches in diameter.
Gently fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Unfold and gently ease it into the contours of the pan. Roll out the larger half of dough to a circle about 12 inches in diameter and gently fold in half.
Fill the lined pie pan with the filling. Dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Carefully unfold the remaining pastry circle over the filling. Tuck the edges of the top pastry under the rim of the bottom pastry and press down with your fingers to seal together and decoratively flute the edges. With the tip of a small sharp knife, cut three vents about two inches long in the center of the top crust.
Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes longer.
Remove from the oven, brush the top pastry with the beaten egg, return to the oven, and continue baking until the crust is deep golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, accompanied by vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Tip: If you don't have time you can always feel free to use store-bought pie crusts.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Aziz of Traditions on the Beach, 3111 West Gulf Drive in the historic Island Inn. For more information or to make a reservation call 239-472-4559 or visit www.TraditionsOnTheBeach.com.