A rainy evening in Singapore, I sat curled up on the favorite spot of our studio – the couch by the wall sized window that paints lush green gardens, wide skies and high-rise buildings together in a single view! (Apart from the kitchen, this is where I spend most of my time ..well, that is when I am at home! 😉 ) Coming back, it was a rainy evening, I felt as snug as a bug in a rug lying on my couch , sipping hot coffee and watching a chick flick – “Waitress”. With a rating of 7.1 on IMDb, for all those who are interested, Waitress is a comedy drama about life and dreams of a woman who works at a pie diner.
What appealed me the most about the movie? The frames that captures interesting pies that protagonist Keri Russell bakes in her head depending on her state of mind. She even names them accordingly – “I hate my husband Pie” or “All in love Pie”! It does sound a li’l silly but subtly it did make me realize that more often than not, even the menu in my kitchen decided by my temperament . ( Does that happen you as well?)
Somewhere, somehow, while watching the movie, the image of the primmed and trimmed criss-cross pie got stuck in my head. I started wondering that I had tasted it so many times at different places before but why didn’t I try it till now? Is it too difficult? Does it require special tools? Are the ingredients too hard to fetch? Can it be made without eggs? The questions were endless but needed to be answered!
Three days of research and googlearning later, I realized that the ingredients and tools needed for the Apple Pie were as simple as they could be. In-fact almost everything required was available in my kitchen shelves and yes, the flaky pastry crust as required for the pie could be made without using any eggs… Whoa, I was inspired and as ready as ever! What are we waiting for?
So, here’s to my first Pie with the criss cross or lattice top and I would like to call it ” Pie-Oh-My”!Flour – 2 cups Butter – 125 gms Baking powder – 3/4th tsp Apples – 3 medium (you may choose any kind or can even mix different varieties of apples) Spices ( Cinnamon Powder+ Nutmeg Powder) – 1 tsp Sugar ( preferably brown and ground)- 3/4th of a cup ( or adjust to taste) Lemon juice – 1 tsp Corn Starch – 1 and 1/2 tsp Ice Cold Water – a little over 2 cups The Process:
Frankly, from the very beginning, I could not wait to start arranging the lattice dough strips on the pie, but clearly, that wouldn’t have been possible till I completed the two main steps – To begin with, knead the pastry dough and then marinate the apples, both of which require some time and patience.
CRUST of the PIE:
1. Cut 100 gms of butter in small cubes and put it to chill in the freezer for at-least 15 mins soaked in 2 cups ice-cold water.
2. Sift 2 cups of flour and add 2 tbsp ground sugar and 1 tsp baking powder together
3. Now , add hardened butter cubes and start cutting them through the dry flour mixture using forks . The idea is to have grainy butter pieces coated well with the flour mixture, if it’s too hot in your kitchen and you feel that the butter getting too soft , refrigerate it for sometime and/or move to a aircon cooled room. Do whatever it takes to get a grainy dough. ( It is the coarse butter granules between in the dough that make the Pie Crust flaky!)
4. Once you reach that stage, bind the dough using ice-cold water. Put half tsp at a time. The idea is to use as little water as possible, so that the resultant dough is firm and non-smooth. ( Refer to the picture below) Try not to use too much of hands/pressure in the dough kneading process or the butter would melt due to the body heat through your palms.
“A pie dough comes together exactly like a biscuit only there is very, very little liquid and no leavening involved. Other than that, the same rules apply. My best advice: handle the dough as little as possible. “ -Alton Brown
5. Cover the dough in cling kitchen wrap and put it to refrigerate in the freezer for about 20-25 mins ( ensuring any softened butter gets firm before the rolling process).
MARINATE the APPLES:
1. Peel and de-seed the apples and cut them into thin and small bite sizes.
2. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg powder, remaining sugar and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Toss Gently and let them sit for over 15 mins.
3. Transfer the apples into a sieve resting over an empty bowl for about 30-45 mins. The bowl will collect the juice from the softened apples.
4. Mix the corn starch over the collected juice and thicken it in the microwave for about 15 secs, mix it back to the apples.
5. The softened apple filling is ready to be poured into the pastry crust.
The crust might get a little hard when you remove it from the refrigerator but as you start lightly kneading it, it would get easy to manage. The dough should ideally be firm and elastic ; you have to use it before the butter gets too soft and consequently makes the dough sticky.
1. Divide the dough into two parts and by the time you are rolling one, keep the other back in the fridge
2. Take a clean flat surface and lightly flour it. Roll out the dough into circle of a size bigger than your pie baking mould, this measurement makes pie of size 8″ diameter.
3. Care should be taken that the pie crust doesn’t stick/break, if it is becoming unmanageable then you can roll out the dough by placing it in between sheets of cling wraps, by doing so it can be easily transferred to the baking dish.
4. Lightly grease the baking dish with butter and dust some flour.
5. Roll the flattened pie on the rolling-pin and roll it out on the baking dish; Firmly press it while sticking the pastry dough neatly to the sides of the bakeware
6. Roll out the other remaining dough from the fridge and cut it into thin stripes – approx width of 3/4 th inches
ARRANGING the LATTICE TOP:
Finally comes the most interesting and creative part of the whole process, the pie top arrangement. You can make pie open-faced, with a full top, or half-open like a lattice top. We used the lattice top crust as it not only looks pretty but also provides heat insulation to the fruit and does not let them become too caramelized. For big pies , the double crust ( top and bottom) works better as it gives every piece a perfect wedge shape and the filling remains neatly sealed in.
Steps to weave your Lattice Pie:
1. Being excited and impetuous, I took the shortest way started by arranging the strips parallely at a small distance from each other in one direction. ( Needless to say, the longest strip should cut through the center and ends of all the strips should reach till the edge of the pie crust)
2. Next, I started arranging another set of strips, perpendicular to the previous arrangement starting from one end. The only difference was this time I put one strip at a time and I alternately put it over and under the existing arrangement, creating a criss cross weave.
3. Cut the excess strip ends hanging from the sides after leaving some margin. Now tuck the strip ends neatly into the edge of the bottom crust.
4. You can now create a crimping effect on the edges by using your thumb and index fingers. If you are using a crimped pie plate, you will have to just press the edges firmly on to the crimped circumference.
Just like that you are done!
Tip! If the process above took sometime and you feel the butter of the crust might have got softened. Refrigerate the pie for 10 mins before baking.
BAKING the PIE
1. Brush the crust with a little butter and/or milk mixture to get a brown glaze. Put it into preheated oven at 250 degrees C for over 1 hour.
2. Since I have an oven with double rod options, I let the base cook on the bottom rod for over 30 mins before putting on the top ( and consequently both) rod on. This ensures that the pie doesn’t over brown. ( If you do not have that option, you may choose to put an aluminium foil around the edge of the pie to keep it from turning too brown and remove it towards the last 15 mins. )
3. The apple filling bubbles up and the liquid might ooze out of the pie during baking, to avoid spoiling your oven’s surface, keep a tray or a flat plate below the pie bakeware. Keep an eye on your pie, checking in between while letting it cook slowly.
Serve: Let the Pie sit for around 1-2 hours on the cooling rack, before you serve it…Believe me, it would be definitely worth the wait!
I took few shots while waiting for it to cool down. These are few of the many. Hope these encourage you to try one for yourself!
Well, I hope you loved the “Pie – oh -my!” It might be a little long drawn and time-consuming process but it uses simple ingredients and is worth every effort you put in! Well if you don’t trust me on this, let me give another try as I close this post and convince you by quoting a small except from a poem written by a famous American writer :
“But I, when I undress me
Each night, upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese!”
– Eugene Field
Let us know if have any questions relating to this recipe, & if you do try it, please share the pics with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.