I always try to eat an apple a day. It’s my go to fruit. It’s fibrous, juicy, light, has the right amount of sweetness, available all year round and affordable. Affordability is always included in my criteria, hehe. Oh and it smells so good too! Did you know that food flavour is mostly experienced through the sense of smell? Yes, yes, yes. The smell of food actually starts our digestion process. This is called the cephalic phase. It preps the body for the food we are about to eat so we salivate. Why do I know this anyway? =p. I went to medical school right after college for about a year and a half but decided it’s not for me. No, I didn’t flunk. I just had to say that because I’ve encountered people who assumed that I quit medical school because I had failing grades. I was actually on an academic scholarship then and I had pretty good grades. However, this did not equate to me loving the field.
On this note, I would like to say that not loving what I had to do and learn then was not an excuse to be lazy and negligent. I believe that being good at something is not a product of passion but of discipline. It is discipline that takes us to the next level. You may not be the greatest where you are now but flourishing there through hard work and the right attitude, will benefit and sustain you once you’re finally doing what you love to do. It will build your confidence and it will most likely fuel the courage in you to take that step of faith and follow your passion. OKAY OKAY, I’ll end the inspirational talk there =p
So where are we? Oh THE apple pie. OH OH OH! The smell of this baking in the oven was a reward in itself! I cannot wait for everyone to taste this! It is actually cooling right now as I write this post. It has to be cooled at room temperature for at least 4 hours before cutting. That seems forever!
The process below is basically the continuation of my earlier post on the Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust. It covers the rolling of the dough up to the final apple pie. Again, this is heavily based on the recipe of Rose Levy Beranbaum in her book The Pie and Pastry Bible.
1 – I removed the bottom dough from the refrigerator and allowed it to sit for 10 mins. I gently pressed on it with the rolling pin to check if it ‘responds’. It was still very cold and firm then but the surface was soft. I thought that was just the right time and it was indeed! The dough did not crack nor did it get gooey. I rolled it out onto a lightly floured plastic wrap from the middle out and in all directions. I also lightly floured the rolling pin.
Don’t go overboard with the flour. Just use the amount necessary so the dough doesn’t stick and remember to brush off any excesses. Tita Rose shared that the extra flour will make the crust bitter when cooked. I also moved the dough around and flipped it so it doesn’t stick until it was thin enough for such movement. I sprinkled more flour as was necessary. I rolled the pie dough to about 1/8 of an inch or a little less (not more) in thickness and about 12 inches or a little more (not less) in diameter.
2 – To transfer to the pie pan, Tita Rose finds that folding the dough into 4 is best. I tried it and I saw how it was advantageous for positioning. I placed the tip of the fold in the middle of the pie pan and unfolded the dough. Not much adjustment had to be made upon transferring. I also tried rolling the dough to the rolling pin like others recommend and I could say it was easier to do but harder to position. I think I’m going to go with the folding. The benefits outweigh the added ‘difficulty’. I made sure to fill the sides of the pan with the dough. I did not trim any edges. I did not want to waste any of that precious dough. I just ‘re-distributed’ overhanging dough to the sides. After this, I chilled the dough to relax it between 1 and 2 hours while I make the filling.
3 – I mixed the needed white and brown sugar for the filling before slicing the apples because the slices need to be immediately tossed into the sugar lest it browns (or oxidizes in the scientific world). So I peeled the apples and sliced lengthwise into four before removing the core. I do not have a melon baller to do this for a pretty pit so I just used a knife. I sliced every quarter into six and tossed them onto the sugar immediately. I would have to say that this is the most time-consuming and labor-intensive part of making an apple pie. I was aiming for equal slices not because of the appearance (it will be covered anyhow) but so that every slice will be equally cooked. It is also important to note that each slice should not be more than a quarter of an inch thick so they stack closer together.
4 – I tossed in lemon juice, cinnamon powder and fine salt and allowed it to sit at room temperature for about an hour to allow the apples to release extra liquid. I drained this out for about 30 minutes and added unsalted butter to the liquid. I cooked the liquid in the microwave for about 7 minutes and 30 seconds until syrupy. Meanwhile, I tossed some cornstarch into the apples and gently mixed in the syrup. I covered this with plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator while I prepared the top dough.
5 – I removed the top dough from the refrigerator and followed the same steps I did with the bottom dough. I tried to roll it thinner since I was making a lattice top. The overlapping of two doughs must be considered. I then divided the flattened dough into one-inch thick strips (I used a ruler) with a knife (I don’t have a rolling cutter yet). I set strips on top of the filling in one direction first. I used alternating strips from the sliced dough in consideration of the spaces made in between the strips on top of the filling. I wove the rest of the strips perpendicularly into the first layer of strips (up, down, up, down). I moved as fast as I could. Unfortunately, I missed to ‘up, down’ one strip, haha! Look at the right most strip in the picture. Oh well, it still looked beautiful to me so I let it go. As in the top dough, I didn’t trim out any edges. I just ‘re-distributed’ to the sides while I tuck the edges of the top dough to the bottom dough.
6 – I almost forgot to do this! I already covered the pie with plastic wrap to refrigerate overnight to relax the dough before remembering that I did not scallop the sides yet. Glad that I did remember. It was very easy to do. I basically just pinched the sides with my two fingers to achieve this look.
7 – I froze my pie overnight after overnight refrigeration because Tita Rose said that freezing a pie before baking produces the best results. Before baking, I made a foil ring to cover the edges. These edges tend to burn if this is not done. The foil acts to reflect the heat away. This is needed because edges are more readily baked. However, the edges should not be kept covered for the full baking time. You either place it at the beginning and remove midway or place it midway. I think it is easier to place it beforehand so you do not have to deal with a very hot pie. But if you have a commercial pie ring to cover the edge, it won’t matter. You just fit it right in.
8 – Finally, I baked the pie in my convection type oven preheated to 425 oF. I placed it at the lower rack and turned down the temperature after 10 minutes of baking. I removed the foil ring after 20 minutes and baked for another 50 minutes. The baking time is longer because I baked it frozen. I also checked the apples with a toothpick to ensure that they were sufficiently tender.
For the ingredients list, please head over here. I was exchanging e-mails with Rose Levy Beranbaum herself in the wee hours of the morning. and found out that I mustn’t place a recipe card or an ingredients list here. I was in an emotional roller coaster then, scared, nervous, sad but eventually so touched and happy. Come to think of it, it actually makes my work easier!
Thank God the balikbayans loved this! Yey! They were shocked that it was my first try. One uncle likened it to some apple pie he buys in the United States. The name didn’t really sink because I am not familiar with it or maybe I was just too happy to hear at that point =p. They said the crust was really good.
I decided to drizzle with some dulce de leche (creme caramel) because I found that it was not sweet enough for the Filipino taste buds. I also discovered that Fuji apples are quite watery so the filling was not very thick. I got really nervous about the bottom crust being soggy but surprisingly it was not. Next time I make this, I will drain out the liquids from the apples for longer. Probably overnight just to be sure. I will also increase the sugar added to the apples or probably just mix in some caramel.