This recipe comes from the scientific cooks with the PBS program America’s Test Kitchen. I absolutely love that program and have a huge crush on Christopher Kimball. There’s nothing sexier than a man in an apron. Besides he reminds me of my husband, Richard (Skip) Lewellyn, may he rest in peace.
As I’ve said before, I owe most of my cooking skills to Skip. He was a great chef and the most organized person in the kitchen that I ever met. He could put a big holiday meal on the table and have the pots and pans washed before everyone was seated. I, on the other hand, have to spend hours cleaning up after myself. I’m just plain out messy. His daughter, Kerryn, who can clean an oven without getting even a splatter of greasy goo on the floor, takes after her Daddy. She’s neat and she’s also an excellent cook.
Anyway, I digress, here is the link to the recipe for Vodka Pie Crust
This is flat-out, the best, flakiest and tastiest pie dough I have ever made. It’s loaded with butter (I used margarine in one of my pies and butter in the other and couldn’t tell the difference) and shortening and because it has so much liquid in it, it’s fairly easy to handle. I would recommend that you use wax paper or a pastry cloth to roll it out on because if you miss getting it centered into your pie plate, the dough is so delicate it’s hard to maneuver without tearing it, if not downright impossible. Don’t ask me how I know these things. It’s embarrassing. Not to worry though, just press the torn parts together. It’s very forgiving.
It’s supposed to be made in the food processor but my food processor isn’t big enough to handle this recipe so I used my mixer for the first step. That worked just fine. My daughter has a food processor big enough so the next pie we make gets made at her house or she has to bring the food processor to visit me because I really want to try doing it that way.
This is a very lightly seasoned pie filling. The combination of tart and sweet apples are the star of this recipe rather than the cinnamon and nutmeg. You can add more of both of those if you prefer but you should really try this at least once. I was skeptical when I first tried this because I really like apple pies with lots of cinnamon and even some ginger in them but I really liked this with the ham. The flavor was delicate and refreshing after such a heavy meal.
Apple Pie Filling
2 pounds of tart apples such as Macintosh or Granny Smith
2 to 21/2 pounds of sweet baking apples such as Braeburn, or Golden Delicious
approximately 1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS cornstarch
½ cup Agave Nectar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and adjust your oven racks to the lower middle position. Place a heavy tin lined with foil on the rack while you are preheating the oven.
Peel, core, and slice the apples into ¼ inch wedges, sprinkling them with the lemon juice and cornstarch as you add them to the bowl. In a small prep bowl stir together the Agave Syrup, spices and salt. Pour the syrup mixture over the apples and toss.
I was given some Pink Lady apples and bought the Macintosh to counter their sweetness. Pink Lady’s aren’t baking apples so I didn’t slice them as thin as the MacIntosh in the hope that they would hold up better during baking and not turn to complete mush. That was fairly successful.
I used Agave Nectar to sweeten my apples because his parents try to limit the amount of sugar my Gr-Son, Gabe, has in his diet and because I am a pre-insulin dependent diabetic. Agave Nectar doesn’t raise your blood sugar as fast. You can use ½ cup granulated sugar if you prefer. It’s certainly cheaper.
Roll out the pie dough into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter and transfer it to your pie plate. Fill it with the apple mixture and cover with another 12 inch circle of dough. This pie dough should be rolled quite a bit thicker than you would ordinarily want your crust to be since a lot of the bulk is going to cook out of it as the vodka evaporates leaving behind those lovely flakes.
Trim the dough with a pair of kitchen sheers so that you have approximately ½ inch overlapping the pie pan. Fold the two layers under and then crimp the edges together. Brush the top crust with egg white and sprinkle it generously with a mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar.
Make a foil collar to protect the edges of your pie crust so it won’t brown too fast. Transfer the pie to the foil covered cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the pie is a light golden brown. Remove the foil collars and reduce the heat to 375*. Continue baking until the pie is a deep golden brown—about 25 more minutes. Let it rest at least 2 hours before eating.