Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

So when I was 39 weeks pregnant (yes 39, that's not a typo) I entered a pie contest at a local apple harvest celebration. I'm not even sure what compelled me to do it. I'd only made an apple pie once, and it wasn't even that great. But I figured that we were already going to the celebration, and what could I lose (besides a few hours of sleep!) if I entered. I used a pie crust from Barefoot Contessa (you can never go wrong with her!) and a basic apple pie filling. Then, because I was a million years pregnant and not sleeping well at all, I found that I was brainstorming apple pie ideas at 2am, and surprisingly, these were when my best ideas came to me. I figured out a pecan streusal that involved pulsing the pecans as opposed to adding whole pecans to the pie, because I was afraid they would get mushy. I then also thought up a spiced whipped topping to go on top of the pie. Well, the judges were super impressed with me. So were my boys, who were 2 and 4 at the time and were more excited about the blue ribbon then the fact that I also won $100. Apparently the, uh, "older" ladies were pretty upset that a young mom like me, who owned up to the fact that this was only my second pie ever, beat them. Sorry ladies!

Apple Pie with Pecan-Cinnamon Streusel and Spiced Whipped Cream
by Girls in Aprons

Crust (from Barefoot Contessa...or you could use Pillsbury!):

12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 Tbsp ice water


6 to 8 variety apples, peeled and sliced (about 5 cups)
Juice from ½ of a lemon
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Streusel topping:

2/3 cup crushed cinnamon graham crackers
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup pecans
6 Tbsp cold butter, diced

Whipped Topping:

1 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Crust: Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Set second pie crust aside.

Filling: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Fill pie crust with apple mixture.

Streusel topping: Combine graham crackers, brown sugar, and flour in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add pecans and diced butter, pulsing until the butter is the size of peas. Sprinkle over apples after apples have been placed in the pie dish. Top pie with latticed pie crust and flute the edges. Brush edges and top of pie with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water).

Fold foil strips around edges of crust and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 40 minutes or until apples are bubbling and crust is browned.

For whipped topping, mix whipped cream with a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk until soft peaks form. Continuing to whisk, gradually add powdered sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Top with pie once pie has cooled to room temperature.

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