Alton Brown shares his secrets for making the perfect apple pie.
Constructing a good pie crust is a balancing act. We begin by weighing out 12 ounces of all purpose flour, and dumping that into your favorite food processor. We will follow that with one teaspoon of standard table salt. Now I know you are probably surprised to not hear me and I am using kosher salt, but it's just too big and crunchy, for this application. Next, we will go at three teaspoons of regular granulated sugar, of course three teaspoons is one table spoon, very good, I know you get that. Now just a slapper on the lid, it's been in for just a few seconds to bring the mixture together.
There that's you do it, now we bring the fat to the party starting with six ounces of chilled unsalted butter. Cut into about half inch pieces, just post that five or six times until the texture just begins to look kind of mealy. That looks good, now we bring two ounces of chilled vegetable shorting to the bow, small chunks please, also another 3-4 times or just until incorporate. Since they have different melting points the butter and the shorting will work together to create a better texture. Once that's in, we are going to need a liquid, not much, enough to hydrate the flour and activate it bit of loop.
Let's see, besides apple juice we have an apple cider, we can use water. Why to bother when we have got let's say, apple jack, if a apple pie is the most American of desserts, then this is the most American of alcoholic beverages. I am putting in the pie to the tune of five tablespoons right on top, and then just pause until it comes together into big hunks, like that. Yeah, that's what we were looking for. To bite the dough in half by weight, shape each half into a disk, wrap a plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour enough to over night. That will give out the fat, time to re-solidify and the flour time to soak up all that lovely apple jack.
Once you have harvested your slices, give them all back to a bowl, plus with one quarter of a cup of plain old fashioned sugar. Once you have got that tossed in, you're going to want to move the apples and whatever sugar is still hanging onto them into a colander Then put the bowl back underneath that, so that we are catching every bit of liquid that drains away. There, we are going to let this just sit and drain for an hour-and-a-half. By now, the apples will give it up quite a bit of juice and although we don't want them in the apples, doesn't mean that we don't want them in the pie, so, into a small saucepan or saucier and over medium heat, until it reduces down to a glaze of two tablespoons. Now we assemble the rest of the filling.
Time to convert these doughy rounds into a crunchy crust, first we need our stations set, I have here are some flour, just all purpose flour for our sprinkling. I have got a nice big open clean expanse, I have got a rolling pin, I prefer French that is one with out handles, and we will need a couple of feet of wax-paper on which we will actually do the deed. Little bit of flour goes down because this is sticky stuff and the first disc comes out. Little flour on top of that, fold over the wax-paper and then roll. I just kind of like rolling in one direction and then the other and then turn all the way around. We were looking to bring in the dough all the way out to the edge of the paper, it's about 12 inches.
The tart pan also makes loading up the dough extra easy, just flip the bottom piece over on to your desk, replace the wax-paper, flip it over and then fold the edges of the dough until everything is up on to the bottom of the tart pan, then you just drop it down inside, easy, fold out the edges and don't worry if thing crack or tear. You can take off the excess, and patch the holes. There just push it down against the flutes, there, that's it. Okay finally we built pie bird dead in the center, boom. The apples will start layering from the outside and which is convenient because the curve of the apple actually matches the curve of the pan.
Goal here is to overlap them evenly as you go around. Just make another circle, and then another circle inside that one; it's for you in the middle. There, now start building another layer on top of that and move outward. Goal to have all the apples evenly inner lays and piled slightly higher in the middle of the outside, of course being able to kind of pile things against the pie bird helps in doing that. Now whatever the liquid is remaining in the bowl, go ahead and pour that over. The top piece of crust just gets laid right over. I kind of poke the little birdie's head through and then sealing this is simple, just use the heal of your hand and just push down against those crimps. Let the hand do the work for you. Again, if any splits or tears show up like that one will patch.
Now the final step is the reduction lays that we made. We just want to brush that on, you see it's pretty sticky stuff, that's going to add a good bit of flavor, and because the sugar colored. Just try not to get it right up against the edge where the pan is or to literally glue the pie to the pan. Remove the bottom rack from your hot box, it's 425 degrees and slide your pie right on to the floor of the oven. This way the bottom of the pie will brown and cook quickly before the apples have a chance to get too far along, that's important. After 30 minutes we need to get the pie off of the floor of the oven, so that the crust won't actually burn. So move a rack into the lowest or next to lowest position. Get the pie back in and then bake for another 20 minutes.
Time is up, you know I am really sorry that we haven't worked out that scratch and sniff television yet, because nothing stinks up a house quite as pretty as apple pie. The time finally comes to cut that pie, here's how we de-pan, this is the cool part. Just find something that is narrower than the bottom of the tart pan and off it comes, I love that. You can either use a spatula and a paring knife that kind of jimmy off that bottom plate, you can just leave it in place, which is what I do. Always cut with a serrated knife, it's a lot easier on the crust and just kind of carve around the little black bird, here I come birdie.
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