The burgundy-purple glaze on this open-faced apple pie prepares the appetite for something different: hints of sweet and savory from the ruby port and balsamic vinegar in the filling. Choose a flavorful apple such as a Cortland: not the firmest, but sturdier than a McIntosh.
We tested this using the food-processor method and recipe for Bubby's All-Butter Pastry Pie Dough. The directions are specific and therefore lengthy, but this pie is not hard to make.
The pie, loosely covered, can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Yield: Makes one 9-inch pie
- For the crust
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ice-cold water, plus ice cubes as needed
- 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For the filling
- 6 large, firm apples, such as Cortland
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1/2 large lemon)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon ruby port
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch ground cloves
- For the glaze
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Few drops of water (optional)
For the crust: Measure out the water for the crust (with a bit of extra water in case you need more) and add a few ice cubes. Chill it in the freezer.
Use a little of the measured flour to lightly coat the cold stick of butter; cut the butter in half lengthwise and coat its newly cut surfaces; cut again lengthwise into quarters and repeat the coating. Cut again into 1-inch pieces and coat in the flour.
Combine the flour, salt and coated butter pieces in the large bowl of a food processor. Pulse it a few times; stop and shake the bowl to make sure the butter is evenly distributed. Pulse the mixture until the larger fat pieces are the size of shelled peas and the smallest pieces are the size of lentils. Do not overmix; it should take fewer than 10 pulses to achieve the right consistency. Transfer the flour-butter mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes.
When the mixture is chilled, add the water by hand, starting with 2 or 3 tablespoons. Use your hands to quickly toss the mixture with a light upward motion to distribute the water evenly throughout. Work the dough as little as possible. Sprinkle water as needed just until the dough comes together. Form a ball of dough and use it to mop up any remaining crumbs in the bowl; if they pick up easily, the dough is probably wet enough. (If your dough is quite sticky, soft and wet, it is better to start over. If the butter no longer feels cool to the touch, put the mixture in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes.) Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
When the dough is chilled, have ready a 9-inch pie plate.
Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Unwrap the chilled ball of dough and use the palm of your hand to gently press it into a flat disk, patting any cracked edges until they are smooth. Sprinkle both sides of the disk with flour. Roll from the center, using less pressure as you near the edges. If the edges start to crack and separate, gently squeeze them back together. As you roll the dough -- lifting, dusting it with flour, rotating it to create a larger, even circle -- you should be able to see the fat take on a marbled look in the dough. Dust with more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, or chill the dough if it becomes too soft to handle.
When the dough measures 11 inches across, loosely fold it in half, then in quarters. Center the tip of the dough wedge in the pie plate and gently unfold to cover the bottom and sides, being careful not to press or stretch the dough (or it will pull back during baking). Trim and crimp the edges as desired; cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet.
For the filling: Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apple slices and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until their outer edges have softened. Add the sugar, lemon juice, flour, port, vanilla extract, vinegar, pepper, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, mixing gently to combine. Transfer the filling to the prepared, chilled crust. Cover loosely with aluminum foil (to keep the apples from drying out) and place the pie on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust looks dry. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes or until the apples can be easily pierced with a knife and the edges of the crust are golden brown. If the crust is not done, remove the foil, increase the temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 5 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the berries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat (if necessary, sprinkle a few drops of water over fresh berries to help them start cooking). Stir gently to combine. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, breaking up the berries with a spoon. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the pulp and seeds. Return the liquid to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and cover until ready to use.
Spread the glaze evenly over the cooled pie (if the pie is too warm, the apples will absorb too much of the glaze). Cover loosely with wax paper and refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes before serving.
Adapted from "Bubby's Homemade Pies," by Ron Silver and Jen Bervin (Wiley, 2007).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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