I'm not going to sugarcoat this for you. There's enough of that going on right now between all of the candied nuts, seasonal M&Ms, and informercials about how crazy AWESOME and INNOVATIVE the new and improved Snuggie is going to be and how you absolutely NEED ONE for you, your kids, and your dog to get you through the holiday season.
(Okay, I made that last part up since I don't own a television and thus am not privy to all of the nonsense that holiday commercials are spewing forth these days. But I'm sure it's not all that far from the truth. And you really can get a Snuggie for your dog if you're so inclined. I fact-checked it.)
What I'm really trying to say is that, either my pie-making skills are rusty or the making of this thing is a major pain in the you-know-where, but it's a good thing I had the majority of a bottle of Bacardi Gold sitting around just waiting for me to stress-chug it, because this is not an easy pie to pull together. (And no I am not convinced that the stress-chugging itself had anything to do with my inability to roll out a pie crust like a normal person. Ahem.)
But if you asked me whether it was worth it? Whether this pie was so impossibly delicious, with it's flaky-beyond-belief crust and it's alcohol-infused-apple-cinnamon innards that it made up for the twenty or so gray hairs that I sprouted while making it?
I would have to say. Honestly. Yes.
Let's dissect, shall we?
First - the pie crust. It is made with pastry or cake flour rather than all-purpose flour which not only makes it flakier and more delicate, but also allows you to knead it and re-roll it more times without having to worry about it getting tough. And since rolling pie crust is never really easy (I mean really, who EVER gets it to turn into a circle on the first try??), this is a very good thing.
Next - the filling. First, you saute the apples in caramelized sugar. I know, RIGHT! And then you toss them with booze, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg...which is basically everything good in this world.
At which point you throw the filling on top of the pie crust, top it all off with a second layer of pie crust...and then bake it for TWO HOURS. Which not only contributes to the incredible flakiness of the crust...but it also turns your apples into something akin to cinnamon-sugar-with-a-hint-of-rum heaven.
So, yeah...make this pie for Thanksgiving or just because. Pull your hair out. And then revel in it's glory.
Unlike purchasing a Snuggie...it is so worth it.
PS - Keep reading below the recipe for some notes on how you can make entertaining this season easier and also for an Eats Well With Others Thanksgiving recipe roundup!!
Flaky But Tender Pastry Dough (for a 9-inch double crust pie)
Adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
- 2 2/3 cup (350 grams) pastry flour or cake flour
- 2/3 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, freezer-cold, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, freezer-cold (I used an extra 1/4 cup butter)
- 1/2 cup ice-cold water, or more as needed
- 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
- Put the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter (and shortening if using) to the dry ingredients.
- Pulse 9 to 12 times. Turn off the machine and check to see that the butter is in pieces a little smaller than the size of a pea. If needed, put the lid back on and pulse a couple more times.
- Put the ice-cold water and vinegar into a measuring cup or small container and stir to combine.
- Gradually pour the water-vinegar mixture through the feed tube while pulsing 10 to 12 times. Take the lid off and use your fingers to see if you can clump the mixture together to form a dough. Use a rubber spatula to scrape around the sides of the food processor bowl and the bottom of the bowl to see if there are any pockets of dry flour. If the dough seems toodry, add more water a few teaspoons at a time and pulse a few more times.
- Split dough into two halves, shape each half into a disc, wrap with saran wrap and chill in the fridge for two hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, unwrap the two disks of dough. Using a rolling pin and flour as needed, roll one piece into an 11- to 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick and transfer it to the pie pan. Trim the excess dough to a 1/4-inch overhang.
- Roll the other piece 1/8 inch thick to an 11-inch circle and trim to a 9-inch circle. Keep both the pastry-lined pie and the pastry circle for the top of the pie chilled in the fridge while you prep the filling ingredients.
- When you are ready to fill the pie, remove the pastry-lined pie plate from the fridge and add your filling.
- Brush starch water (1 tbsp flour+1/2 cup ice-cold water) on the overhang of the bottom crust. Remove the pastry circle from the fridge and transfer it to the top of the pie. Pull the overhang of the bottom crust up and over the top crust and press to seal.
- Cut slits for steam vets using the tip of a paring knife. Brush the top of the pie with cream, sprinkle with sugar, and bake as directed.
"Hot Buttered Rum" Apple Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie, adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
- 6 to 8 apples, such as Gravenstein, Granny Smith, or Pink Lady
- 1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (40 grams) packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Flaky but Tender Pastry Dough (recipe above)
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp demerara or granulated sugar
- Peel and core the apples and slice them 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. There should be about 8 cups of apple slices.
- Place 2 large saute pans over medium-high heat. Divide the 1/3 cup granulated sugar evenly between them. Cook the sugar, without stirring, until it melts and then turns amber in color, tilting the pans a little to swirl and distribute the color, adjusting the heat as needed.
- Add the apples, dividing them between the 2 pans, and saute until they are about half-cooked and the juices that are released boil away and reduce until no liquid remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss and stir the apples regularly while they are cooking so they cook evenly on both sides. When the apples are done, they should have some give but should not fall apart when you press one between your fingers.
- Transfer the apples to a bowl and allow them to cool completely to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- When the apples are cooled, add the brown sugar, rum, butter, cornstarch, vanilla, spices and salt. Toss to combine.
- Put the apple filling in the pastry-lined pie plate. Place the pastry circle on top, roll the overhang up and over and seal with starch water. Press or crimp the edge, then use a paring knife to cut a few vents in the top. Brush the pie with heavy cream and sprinkle with 2 tbsp sugar.
- Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Tent the pie with foil and continue to bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the pie is evenly golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool for at least 1 hour on a wire rack before slicing.
When you're cooking a special meal for a special day, some recipes take time. Lots of time. And many are worth it. But there are always places where you can cut corners. And now, thanks to Whole Foods, you can do so without having to worry about what weirdo ingredients you are feeding to your guests in the process! They have a ton of new frozen foods available under their Whole Foods Market line that are just perfect for holiday entertaining. They are all globally inspired, ranging from vegetable egg rolls to potato and pea samosas to gnocchi di polenta with peas and kale!
Whole Foods was nice enough to give me the opportunity to try some of these out for myself! Just this past weekend, The.Boy. threw a party to celebrate the fact that he passed the NYC bar exam (!!!) and we "catered it" with various items from the Whole Foods frozen foods lineup. We served vegetable potstickers, vegetable eggrolls, the wood-fired buffalo mozzarella pizza with cherry tomatoes, and the gnocchi di polenta with peas and kale. Each required minimal hands-on time to get it from the freezer to the table...and each was a HIT! Seriously, there was no food left by the end of the night and while I'm not usually a fan of frozen food, I really liked that I recognized all of the ingredients in these and that they were chock full of good-for-you ingredients. So if you're looking for some easy peasy menu ideas for this upcoming entertaining season, definitely consider these new products from Whole Foods!
First of all, here's the round-up I posted last year! And here are some of the recipes I posted in the course of the last year that I think would be perfect for Thanksgiving! If you're still trying to decide what to serve, these are some GREAT options. And tune in on Monday to find out what exactly I'm making!
Soft Dinner Rolls with Rosemary and Black Pepper
Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils, Brussels Sprouts, and Goat Cheese
Chard, White Bean and Sweet Potato Gratin
Spinach and Ricotta Roulade
Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Wheatberry Salad with Pomegranate
Shepherd's Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling and Onion Gravy
Caramel Pecan Hand Pies
Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Pecan Pie Streusel
Pumpkin Layer Cake with Butterscotch Filling
Italian Cream Puffs with Custard Filling
Salted Caramel Bundt Cake