Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apple Streusel Pie

This is my favorite kind of apple pie - I just love those sweet, crunchy bits of streusel on top. I think it's way more interesting than another layer of crust. As you can see, this is a very simple recipe. No embellishments or crazy spice concoctions added. Sometimes back to basics is best. This one will remind you of your grandma's...depending, of course, on the grandma (if she was more of a knitter, it will definitely taste better than the pie she crocheted you).

Yield: 1 (9" or 10") pie

1 recipe flaky cream cheese pie crust dough (see recipe below) or crust of choice

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt
5 large Granny Smith apples, sliced

Streusel Topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1.      Roll dough to ¼” thickness and place in your pie pan, being sure to leave a large amount of overhang, at least an inch if possible (the crust will shrink in the oven). Crimp the edges and freeze for at least 1 hour.
2.      Preheat oven to 425˚ F.
3.      Line the crust with foil and weigh down with pie weights (or beans, rice or pennies). Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil/weights and bake for another 5 minutes or until bottom is dry. If the bottom puffs up a little, just push it down while still warm.
4.      Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl; mix until all the apples are well coated.
5.      In a separate bowl, prepare the streusel topping by kneading all the ingredients with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.
6.      Transfer filling to crust and sprinkle streusel on top.
7.      Cover edges and top of pie with foil.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden and apples are cooked through.
Granny Smith apples
sliced apples with flour, sugar and spices
filling mixed
streusel topping
apple filling in pie shell
sprinkling streusel on top
streusel on top
apple streusel pie

Yield: crust for 1 (9-inch) deep dish pie

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
3 oz. cream cheese, cold
1 1/2 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1.       Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a resealable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
2.       Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.
3.       Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea. (Toss with a fork to see it better.) Remove the cover and add the water and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Spoon it into the plastic bag
4.       Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
5.       Wrap the dough with the plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight before rolling. Can make and roll ahead: refrigerate up to 2 days; freeze up to 3 months.

from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Epicurious, November 1998)
frozen butter and flour mixture
adding the cream cheese
adding the butter
adding the water and vinegar
dough in bag, before kneading
dough kneaded
dough disk
dough rolled
dough in pie pan

Even though the crust recipe says it's for a 9-inch
pie, there was just enough to fit my 10-inch pan.
Instead of pie weights, I usually use whatever
leftover grains or dried beans I have in the house.
Some people like to use pennies - they're cheaper than
pie weights and reusable (beans and rice can be
reused, but they get kind of funky after a while).
half blind baked pie crust

It's called "blind baked" when baked all the way
through before adding the filling and "half blind baked"
when only partially baked before adding the filling.

This crust shrinks a lot, but it's flaky and delicious.

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