Checking an item off my baking bucket list: pie. I’ve baked countless tarts, crostatas, galettes–even empanadas. I’ve also made pumpkin pie but it doesn’t count if you use prepared pie dough, right? Several years ago, after being disappointed for the umpteenth time, I vowed never to use it again.
Generally, preparing fillings didn’t concern me. But creating a perfectly flaky pie crust was another story. Especially for apple pie. We all have our favorites and we’ve all tasted those that are just plain bad. I was extremely afraid of my first attempt ending up in the latter camp…so I’ve never tried. Until now. And being the control freak that I am, I just had to put my own spin on a classic by working with a whole grain crust. Good idea? Hmmm, yes and no.
First of all…
Yay for a successful first attempt! This looked like apple pie and more importantly, it tasted like apple pie. But I will admit that there’s room for improvement. I wouldn’t recommend that you run to the kitchen to make this just yet. So this is one of those times that sharing this recipe is more for documenting my initial results so I know how to improve on Attempt #2.
The pie was successful because:
- The dough tasted good
- The filling had great flavor and texture. The apples were cooked but not mushy; it was just the right amount of sweet.
What can improve?
- The dough wasn’t flaky and crumbly. I liked its flavor but spelt flour tends to be heavier. Without using lard and using whole grain, I need to experiment more on finding the right balance between the flour and fat. I’m also not sure that the vodka (borrowed from America’s Test Kitchen) helped in this particular application. Any suggestions for a flakier crust?
- I drained the liquid that the apples expelled as the slices sat in the bowl because I was afraid of a too-watery pie. In hindsight, I should have left the liquid in the filling and trusted the corn starch to do its work to thicken the sauce. Draining the liquid made for a dry filling. If you are still determined to try this recipe, you can avoid this mistake and just include the liquid. I’m just not sure yet how well the measurement of corn starch I used will thicken the mixture.
- The crust was a little thin. I might increase the proportions on the dough ingredients next time.
With these observations from my first attempt, I’m determined to get it right the next time. I still haven’t given up on the whole grain flour and the filling is a keeper. If you have tips for me, I’m all ears!
- For the crust:
- 2 cups spelt flour (249 grams, 8.8 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (14 grams, .5 ounce)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (6 grams, .2 ounce)
- 8 tablespoons ice water
- 2 tablespoons vodka (or sub with water)
- 5.25 ounces unsalted butter (151 grams)
- For the Filling:
- 5-6 apples, peeled, cored, halved and sliced thinly (depending on size; I used half Fuji and half Granny Smith)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2½ teaspoons corn starch
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- Few grinds fresh nutmeg
- For the glaze:
- 1 egg white
- Turbinado sugar, a few tablespoons
- To prepare the crust: Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter until they are the size of peas. Add the six tablespoons of liquid--if using the vodka, two tablespoons vodka and four tablespoons of the ice water--to the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to bring the wet and dry ingredients together. When the mixture has largely clumped together, transfer it to a floured surface and knead lightly, 2-3 times.
- Divide the dough in two, form into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
- To prepare the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
- To assemble the pie: Preheat your oven to 400℉. Roll out one of the dough disks into a 12-inch round. Transfer the rolled out dough onto a 9-inch pie dish. I don't like to trim the excess dough so I leave it. Place the pie dish with the dough back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This reduces shrinkage on the dough when it bakes. After the dough has rested, roll out the other disk and slice into strips. I used 12-14 strips for the lattice top.
- Note: I drained the liquid from the filling before transferring to the prepared pie dish. I think this resulted in a dry-ish filling so I wouldn't recommend this. I should have let the corn starch do its thing. Pour the filling into the prepared pie dish and arrange the strips into a lattice. Tuck the excess dough in the dish. Brush the top of the dough with egg white and sprinkle turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 400℉ (with convection). Rotate and lower the heat to 375℉ and bake for another 20-25 minutes without convection. The pie is done when the filling starts bubbling (if you included the liquid) and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.