Flashback Friday – Easy As Pie?

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 10/29/07 at Exit 51

Easy As Pie?

Making pies intimidates me. Rather, I should say making pie dough intimidates me. Seems like it should be the easiest thing to do. Take some butter and some flour and some water and end up with flaky goodness cradling a luscious filling. Not for me. I must not have been given the magic words one must recite during this ritual because the pastry arts and I are not on the same page.

I know it’s possible. I see it on the food shows. I read about perfect pie dough in magazines. Heck, I even know people who can work that magic in their kitchens. So I decided during a marathon cooking weekend, to give pie another shot.

I’m probably my own worst critic because that pie didn’t last long. Poor thing didn’t even make it a full 24 hours before a few sad apple scraps were all that remained. I imagine this might be something that SFC would enjoy when he gets back. Because really, what says home like an apple pie hot out of the oven?

I’ve got a bunch of apples left in the fridge and enough staples in the pantry to give this another go. I know I need more practice with the dough part of the equation. And I think I’d like to improvise a bit with the filling…maybe instead of apple/cranberry the next one will be caramelized apple.

“Foolproof” Pie Dough
Cook’s Illustrated

  • 2 ½ cups (12.5 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ stick) cold butter, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • ½ cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • ¼ cup cold vodka (Note from CI – Vodka is essential to the crust and imparts no flavor, do not substitute. The dough will be moister and more supple than most standard doughs and will require more flour to roll out.)

Process 1 ½ cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4 inch disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

{printable recipe}

Cranberry Apple Pie
Cook’s Illustrated

Note from CI – The two fillings can be made ahead, cooled, and stored separately in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon for top of pie
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 ½ pounds sweet apples (6 to 7 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 1 recipe “Foolproof” Pie Dough
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Bring cranberries, juice, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally and pressing berries against side of pot, until berries have completely broken down and juices have thickened to jamlike consistency, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in water, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix ½ cup of sugar, remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in large microwave safe bowl. Add apples and toss to combine. Microwave on high, stirring with a spatula every 3 minutes, until apples are just starting to turn translucent around edges and liquid is thick and glossy, 10 to 14 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

While fillings cool, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1 inch overhang. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Transfer cooled cranberry mixture to dough lined pie plate and spread into even layer. Place apple mixture on top of cranberries, mounding slightly in center.

Roll second disk of dough on generously floured work surface to 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1 inch overhang.

Using kitchen shears, cut evenly through both layers of overhanging dough, leaving ½ inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg white and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Using sharp knife, cut four 1 ½ inch slits in top of dough in cross pattern.

Place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake until top is light golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, rotate baking sheet, and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool at least 2 hours.

{printable recipe}

When you’re done, you might have something that looks like this:

4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday – Easy As Pie?

    1. Hells yes Kitch. This was the first pie I had ever made completely from scratch. I attribute the crust success (not a single tear) to the vodka.

      That’s a good enough reason for me to keep some in the freezer. Well, that and chocolate martinis, vodka tonics, and spiked lemonade.

    1. Thanks Beth. The only other pie dough I’ve ever made was a cream cheese dough for pot pie. And that was crazy freaking good.

      I’m spending the night in Florence, SC and will happily be sleeping in my own bed tomorrow.

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