Monday, December 5, 2011

Apple Pie, Two Ways

In my two week absence, I am sad to report that I didn't do much cooking. My trip to San Francisco was a whirlwind and didn't involve as many homecooked meals as I would have liked, and in the time since I've returned I didn't really get back into the kitchen until this weekend.

Luckily, the short time I have spent in the kitchen lately yielded a couple of outraegeously delicious desserts! My number one contribution to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house was a beautiful, tender and tart apple pie. And since Bill was craving an apple treat post-Thanksgiving, I put a new twist on apple pie with some super yummy apple pie bars this weekend.

My apple pie was inspired by (but not quite copied from) Wolfgang Puck's Christmas Apple Pie. And when I say "inspired by," I mean that I used his crust and winged the rest. Fortunately, that crust went over really well. Also fortunately, my improvised filling went over just as well! In fact, my dad called it "stupendous." And thus, I've coined this recipe "Jen's Thanksgiving Apple Pie."

As delish (and pretty!) as my apple pie was, I have to admit that my after Thanksgiving apple pie bars were even better. I have a serious thing for crumble toppings, so as much as I enjoyed Wolfgang's shortbread-like crust, I have to give it to the oat-y, sugar-y, cinnamon-y crumbs that topped these bars (plus, the caramelized apple filling takes it to a whole other level of deliciousness!). I highly recommend that both of these apple desserts make an appearance on your holiday, table ... but if you have to pick just one, go for the bars!

Thanksgiving Apple Pie
For the Crust
2 1/3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks
1 or 2 tablespoons milk

For the Filling
6 to 8 (depending on their size) Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg white, lightly whisked

In food processor fitted with steel blade, combine flour and sugar. Add butter and process until texture resembles fine meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together yolks and 1 tablespoon milk. Scrape into machine and process until a ball begins to form, using additional tablespoon milk, if necessary. Remove dough from machine, and on a lightly floured surface, press into a circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Divide pastry into 2 parts, one a little larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll smaller piece into a round, 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Arrange in pie plate, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. (Reserve trimmings.) Tuck overhang under, making a slightly thicker edge. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel, core, and slice apples. Place apples in a large bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in lemon juice. Spoon filling into the prepared, chilled crust. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out reserved dough, about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully place dough over filling and trim edges (again, reserve trimmings, adding to scraps reserved from bottom crust). Press edges together to seal pie (this doesn't haven't to look professional, but to make pretty, fluted edges, see America's Test Kitchen's tips here). Roll out trimmings and use a sharp knife or small cookie cutter to cut decorative leaves. Adhere leaves to top crust (in any pattern you like!) using a little beaten egg white. Cut 4 slits into top of pie to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Brush top crust with remaining egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake 35 to 40 minutes longer, until crust is golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Apple Pie Bars
For the Crust
3/4 cups butter ( 1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 Honeycrisp apples (or any variety you like), peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Topping
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To make crust, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out into a parchment-lined 9x13-inch baking dish. Press dough over bottom and up edges of dish in an even layer. Bake 20 minutes or until golden and set. Set aside.

To make filling, melt butter and brown sugar in large skillet. Add apples and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue cooking until apples are caramelized and very tender and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes longer. (Add a few tablespoons water to pan to prevent scorching, if necessary.) Remove from heat and let cool.

To make topping, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into clumps.

Spread apple filling over crust. Scatter crumbs on top. Bake 1 hour, or until topping is golden, rotating dish halfway through cooking time. Cool completely (or mostly) on a wire rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.

1 comment:

  1. The apple pie looks intimidatingly advanced! It looks like it belong in a cookbook :) The apple pie bars look awesome, and remind me of what we used to make around our house growing up. The bottom layer was kind of a cakey/cookie base, then it had shredded apples and applesauce as the filling, then the same dough as the bottom except frozen and run through a shredder (is that what you call the metal box you use for vegetables? lol). Then baked. They were so, so good! Very reminiscent of these :)