Apple picking is in full swing (and almost finished?) in the Netherlands. Gorgeous, juicy, red apples, freshly picked by our friends Dragan and Biba, appeared at our doorstep. What else could I do? I made a good old fashioned American Apple Pie.
If you want to create this delicacy at home you'll need 5 large apples(good ones are Gala or Fuji), flour, sugar, cinnamon, butter, salt, corn starch, and ice cold water. And you'll need some time. First, make the pie crust. Do it ahead of time, the night before, and store your discs in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours(or freeze the discs for up to a month or two) . I love Joy of Cooking's pie crust, a standard pate brisse, which Jenny and I used to call 'Pah-tay Briss-ay' until we heard Martha mention it as 'Pat Briss' and we realized our utter non-Frenchness.
The key to pate brisse is cold butter. No, I don't mean refrigerator-cold butter, I mean freeze it! Take your 230g of butter, unsalted, of course, out of the refrigerator and cut it into little pieces. Preferably, perfect pea-sized pieces, but any small random bits will do. Next, put this mess of butter in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. While you wait, put your flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor, or a large bowl and mix. Once the butter is too cold to handle with your Raynauds-fingers, place it in with your blended flour mixture. Food process it to the beat of "mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord..." You know the song, right? Anyway, if you don't have a food processor, get a pastry blender and get good at it and be quick about it. Next, add the ice-cold water and pulse-blend until just combined. You'll know it is ready when you can pinch a bit of it with your fingers and it sticks together like playdough. Do not over-blend. Trust me. And don't let the butter even think about getting warm.
Place two large pieces of saran-wrap on the counter and put half of the dough in each piece, shaping it into a flat disc using the edges of the saran wrap. Try not to handle it too much. If the dough does not feel cold, put it in the fridge for a few minutes before shaping it into a disc. If you keep the butter cold throughout this process, your mouth will thank you when you bite into the lovely flakiness later.
Leave the two discs in the fridge overnight (preferable) or for at least an hour. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F (210 C). Take each disc out and flour your work surface (use a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter), flour your rolling pin, wait a few minutes for the dough to be rollable and go for it. If you try to roll it and it breaks apart on the edges, it is still a bit too cold. But don't let it get warmer than about 68 degrees F (20 C). Roll it into a circle for a 9" pie plate. The overall thickness is less important than just getting it consistent and big enough for your pie plate.
Now, run a finger dipped in cold water around the edge(so the top crust will stick), dot the top with bits of butter (about 2 Tbsp total) and then place the top crust on, peeling back the paper as you do.
Damn, this is starting to sound complex. We're almost done. I promise, it is worth it.