What?! An apple pie that takes 2 days to make? Who’s crazy enough to do that? Well, Michel Richard for one and uhm…me. What can I say? I’m a sucker for this particular baked treat. When yet another apple pie recipe promises to be the best one and has a technique I’ve never tried, I get “sucked” in. (Though 2 days is an exaggeration and most of the time spent is waiting.)
The problem with fruit pies is the soggy bottom crust that naturally occurs when fruit juices start soaking up the prized bottom layer that supposedly supports the pie. I have successfully addressed this issue before by letting the apples macerate with the sugar and by boiling the juices down further. Additionally, I fill the apple pie and then refrigerate it until the fruit-mixture is well-chilled. This guarantees that the crust cooks first before the filling does, thus assuring a firmer crust.
So why, when a more complex recipe comes along, do I even want to try it?
Which killed the cat, if I remember.
I will state off the bat that I was not impressed with the result. I was rebelling with the recipe starting with the 12 fuji apples it required (though I think it was partly the thought of skinning 12 apples), not to mention that it was quartered and not sliced thinner than what I am used to. I really wonder how small were the apples used to test the recipes. Another glaring issue I saw was the low temperature used to cook the pie.
I have utmost respect for Monsieur Richard, because dining at his restaurant, Citronelle, has been one of the few brilliant fine dining experiences I savor unto this day.
He is a great storyteller in his new dessert book, “Sweet Magic”, which I enjoyed reading cover to cover on one chilly night while sipping a steamy cup of chocolat chaud.
I was disappointed in my execution of this recipe and realized I have a disconnect with the great maestro of whimsical cuisine.
My bottom crust, despite being par-baked, tasted like plain “floury” dough. I had quite the amount of leftover apples and I did cut thinner to lessen the chunkiness. The taste of the filling was good – not too sweet- but failed to justify the time spent to make the entire pie. I do not know how to describe the top crust whether it was too flaky or too delicate for a robust and homey dessert like apple pie.
Maybe one of you will have better luck. Please let me know.
World’s Flakiest Apple Pie
from “Sweet Magic” by Michel Richard
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup pastry flour
3 cups pastry flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
About 3/4 cup ice water
12 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon apple juice
1 egg, beaten with fork
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Powdered sugar for dusting
The day before you plan to serve the pie, put the frozen butter cubes into a food processor and pulse for 1 minute.
Add the flour and continue pulsing until tiny balls form. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze overnight.
The next day, return the mixture to the food processor bowl. Add the flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse, adding the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, very slowly. When the mixture just starts binding, you may not need all the water, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and finish forming it into a ball by hand. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for a few hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until the apples are well coated. Pour the mixture into a large glass or ceramic baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, prepare the pie shell by buttering a 9-inch pie plate. Unwrap the dough, cut it in half, then rewrap and return one piece to the refrigerator.
Roll out the other half to form an 11-inch round 1/4 inch thick. Gently wrap the rolled dough around the rolling pin, move the pie plate under the pin, and unroll the dough into the plate. Gently but firmly press the crust into place, and use a knife to cut the excess around the outer edge of the pie plate. Make sure you leave dough on top of the pie plate to edge. Freeze shell for 20 minutes.
Roll the remaining dough into another 11-inch round 1/4 inch thick. Make sure it will fit over the top of the pie with a little excess hanging off the sides. Rewrap it and return it to the refrigerator to rest.
Line the inside of the pie shell with parchment paper. Fill it with dry beans or pie weights and bake it for 45 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment and allow the crust to cool on the counter.
Spoon the cooled apple filling into the par-baked piecrust. Brush the beaten egg along the edges of the crust. Lay the top crust over the apples and gently apply pressure to the edges to form a seal. Cut off any excess dough from the sides of the pie plate using knife or scissors. Brush the remaining egg wash onto the top crust. With a knife or cookie cutter, make 1/4 to 1/2 inch hole in the center of the top crust. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top of the piecrust and finish with a little powdered sugar.
- As I’ve said in the recipe head notes, I couldn’t understand why the temperature was so low. I suspect that was a mistake, for even if I let my apples cook longer both in the initial bake time and in the pie, they remained slightly firm and chunky and the juices never bubbled up through pie vents. The pie crust also looked anemic.
- Couldn’t the dough be divided in two before refrigerated?
- Heed the recipe when it says to “gently apply” pressure when attaching the top crust. I had a “now what?” moment when I realized that it’s not the usual “folding the top crust over the bottom crust” routine.
- I did like the technique of cutting those frozen butter cubes in the food processor with the flour. Little gravelly butter balls, I think my mistake was when I put the dough together… my food processor bowl was very small and most of the dough got “smooshed” together which destroyed those buttery layers.