Once upon a time, I met a fair lady who made pies. Savory pies, sweet pies, even the most spectacular who'da-thunk-it gluten free pies. She's so ever-present in the world of baking (especially here in Seattle) that I envision her perpetually aproned, rolling out flaky, buttery dough in her cozy coastal kitchen. That may not sound glamorous to some, but to me, it sounds simply divine. She teaches pie classes but has never actually sold a pie. Because then it would be work and take away from the passion of pie creation, she told me. Her name is Kate McDermott and she is the award-winning (self-taught!!) home-baker and author of the new Art of the Pie cookbook (I'll call it a bakebook).
Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life, which shares the name with her Art of the Pie Camps and Workshops that she teaches nationwide, is more than a recipe book. A natural teacher, Kate makes baking not only approachable and fun, but easy. She gives detailed instructions on how to make a pie crust - from mixing to rolling to baking - as well as tips and tricks for filling the pie. The book is organized by fruit, type of pie, and sweet and savory pies with recipes ranging from Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Pie and Triple Berry Pie, to savory supper comforts such as Traditional English Pork Pies (she flew to England to learn the precise method) and Great Big Clam Deep-Dish Pie. Step back in time with retro recipes like Grasshopper Pie and Angel Food Pie found in Chapter 7 titled: Creamy, Nutty, Cool and Yummy. You'll drool over the photography, made by renowned food photographer Andrew Scrivani, as well; each image compelling you to pick up a rolling pin and fling flour on your counter.
Fall is the perfect time to bake apple pie, so Kate has generously shared her Quintessential Apple Pie recipe with us. Be sure to get the book so you can learn her Apple Cheddar Pie and gluten-free versions of this recipe. Also, don't miss her savory Sausage and Apple Pie Recipe here!
The Quintessential Apple Pie
"I don’t peel apples as most skins become soft in the baking, plus their tannins add flavor to the pie. If there is an apple with skin you find too thick, it’s just “off with their jackets!” as Henry Ward Beecher wrote. A mix of six to eight different varieties, some for tart, some that hold their shape, and some that don’t, will give you a pie with exceptional flavor and texture." ~Kate McDermott
Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie
About 10 cups heritage apples (skin on), quartered and cored, to mound up high in the pie pan
½ cup (100 grams) sugar
½ teaspoon (3 grams) salt
1 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon
2 gratings nutmeg
½ teaspoon (1 gram) allspice
1 tablespoon (12 grams) artisan apple cider vinegar or 1–2 teaspoons
(5–10 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) calvados or other apple liqueur (optional but really good)
½ cup (73 grams) flour
1 recipe double-crust pie dough
1 knob butter, the size of a small walnut, cut into small pieces for dotting the top of the filling
1–2 teaspoons (4–8 grams) sugar, for sprinkling on top of the pie
1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water, fork beaten
1. Slice the apples into ½-inch (1.5 centimeters) thick slices, or chunk them up into pieces you can comfortably get into your mouth.
2. In a large mixing bowl, put the apples, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vinegar, calvados, and flour, and mix lightly until most of the surfaces are covered with what looks like wet sand.
3. Pour the mixture into an unbaked piecrust, mounding high, and dot with butter.
4. Roll out the remaining dough, lay it over the fruit, and cut 5 to 6 vents on top. Trim the excess dough from the edges and crimp (see Vents, Appliqués, Crimps, Flutes, Lattice, pages 51–56).
5. Cover the pie and chill in refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
6. Lightly brush some of the egg white wash over the entire pie, including the edges, and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes.
7. Reduce the heat to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 30 minutes longer.
8. Open the oven and carefully sprinkle sugar evenly on top of the pie, then continue baking for 10 minutes more.
9. Look for steam and a slight bit of juice coming out of the vents before removing the pie from the oven. Get your ear right down almost to the top of the pie and listen for the sizzle-whump, which
some call the pie’s heartbeat (see Kate’s Very Short Glossary of Pie-Making Terms on page 333).
10. Cool the pie for at least an hour.
VA R I AT I O N S
Apple Cheddar Pie: Make this pie with either of the cheddar cheese crusts (page 63 or 86 for gluten-free). Or add up to 1 cup grated cheese to the filling, or fill the pie halfway, top with sliced cheese, and spoon in remainder of filling.
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