Heat is the enemy when you are making pie crust. If you want a good flaky crust, you need to keep it cold until you put it in the oven.
The recipe I use, which makes enough for a nine inch double crust or two single crusts, is as follows:
2 ½ C all purpose flour
2 sticks cold butter
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
¼ C icy cold vodka
¼ C ice water
Instead of vodka you could use white or apple cider vinegar (chill it). Naptown Bill says he grandmother uses sparkling dry white wine or champagne in her pie crust. I may give that or sparkling water a try.
Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and toss with the flour.
Stick the bowl in the freezer. I also put the blade from my food processor in the freezer as well. After at least one half hour, I put the flour/butter mixture into the bowl of the food processor and give it a few pulses. Don’t over mix, you want the butter to remain in chunks.
Next add the quarter cup of vodka while pulsing the food processor.
(No! Don’t drink it! Put it in the dough.) I keep my vodka in the freezer, so it is ready to go. I keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator and add ice cubes when I start making pie dough. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to come together. It will still be pretty shaggy. The way to test if you have added enough water is to squeeze a handful. If it crumbles, you need to add a little more. If it breaks into big chunks, it is ready.
Cut a big piece of plastic wrap and dump the dough onto it. It won’t really seem like dough yet. That’s ok as long as you can form it into two discs – about six inches in diameter. Wrap each in plastic and put it in the refrigerator. You should still be able to see pieces of butter in the dough.
As it sits in the fridge, the flour will absorb the water and it will be less crumbly and shaggy.
I like to make pretty things, so when I saw the rose apple pie all over the internet, I had to give it a try. I don’t know who deserves the credit for inventing it. This one has an excellent tutorial for slicing the apples and making the rose. I didn’t really like the recipe though. So I added my own small touches.
If you want to do the rose design, follow the tutorial. Here are my tips and changes. You need about four medium apples. If they’re small, use five, if they’re big use three.
I increased the cinnamon and nutmeg to ½ teaspoon each and added ½ teaspoon of ground ginger and added to the sugar. Then I tossed the slices with the sugar mix and let it sit.
This lets the juice release and creates the liquid you will use for the caramel sauce.
While the apples are macerating, take one of your pie dough discs out of the fridge. Sprinkle a little flour on a cutting board and roll it out. Press hard when rolling because it will be stiff. You want to make as few passes as possible. Flip the dough every two or three passes and more flour as needed to keep it from sticking. When it’s rolled out big enough, use your pie plate as a guide and cut around it. Remember to leave plenty of room around it to account for the depth. Press the dough into the pie plate and dock it with a fork.
After the apple slices have sat for about ½ hour, you need to remove them from the liquid and squeeze the liquid out. I wear gloves for this and laying out the slices because it is ….sticky.
That’s also why I have no pictures of the process. (See the tutorial).
Preheat the oven to 375 now. It took me about five minutes more than the preheat time to lay out the apple slices. The tutorial I linked above says to overlap the ends of the slices. I think that makes the pie too ‘loose’, it creates gaps. I like my apple pie to be packed with apples. So, I put them end to end.
Start on the outside and just keep going until it is all filled in. Lastly, curl one slice and stick in the center.
While the pie is baking, make the caramel sauce with the reserved apple liquid. I added a tsp of vanilla and ¼ C of bourbon (No!, Don’t drink it! – honestly, you people.) Then reduce it to about half the volume. When it is almost done, the bubbles change. It becomes thicker and the bubbles are bigger and almost glossy.
At this point, turn off the heat and slowly pour in some cream. I am always a little nervous making caramel sauce because a work colleague de-gloved two fingers when he spilled some. He had to have two surgeries and it took months to recover. Caramel is no joke.
When you are ready to serve, pour caramel sauce over the pie.