November 6, 2013

Bear Essentials: Apples
( + Brown Butter Creamy Apple Pie )

You didn't think I'd leave you without a pie recipe in the middle of Apple Week, did you?

I don't make a lot of pies, mostly because making pie crust seems like the biggest hassle in the world to me.  Never mind that I'm willing to fry doughnuts, fill eclairs, and boil up caramel.  Cutting butter into flour and salt is horrible.

Or so I think, until I actually sit down to do it, and ten minutes later I have an entire pie ready to go in the oven.  It's not that hard.  Scratch that - it's not hard at all.  But just looking at these pictures, I'm exhausted all over again.

The problem might just be the lack of returns.  I've read blogs where the authors wax poetic on the glory of pie crust.  But I just can't relate.  In fact, I have trouble reading the rest of the post because it started with such an obvious fallacy that I can't trust anything that follows.  Crust is bread.  And not even good bread.  Flat bread.  It's the Tupperware of breads.  The point of pie is what you've packed for lunch.  Not what's containing it.  And yes, I eat pie for lunch.  This should not come as a surprise to you.

Well, what I've packed for lunch today is exquisite.

You brown a pile of butter until it's nutty and dark and fragrant, and then you make a thin batter with it that you pour into the bottom of your pie crust.  Top with your apples and bake, and because there are eggs in there and baking is magic, that browned-butter batter rises up through the apples to cover and meld with them.

Oh, and there's streusel.  There should always be streusel.

It's enough to make a girl reach for her rolling pin.

Brown Butter Creamy Apple Pie
from Pillsbury

Unbaked Single-Crust Pie Crust  [ 1 ]

Unsalted Butter  [ 1/4 cup ]
Sugar  [ 1/2 cup ]
Egg  [ 1 ]
Flour  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Granny Smith Apples  [ 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges ]

Flour  [ 1/2 cup ]
Sugar  [ 1/4 cup ]
Brown Sugar  [ packed, 1/4 cup ]
Cinnamon  [ 3/4 teaspoon ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1/4 cup ]

Sweetened Whipped Cream  [ for serving ]

1.   Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2.   Place Pie Crust in a 9-inch glass pie pan.  Crimp crust if necessary.
3.   In a small pot over Medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of the Butter.
4.   Swirling pot often to mix, cook Butter until lightly browned.
5.   Set aside to cool completely  [ about 15 minutes ].

6.   In a small bowl with a wire whisk, beat together 1/2 cup of the Sugar and Egg until light and fluffy.
7.   Add 2 tablespoons of the Flour and Vanilla.
8.   Whisk in Browned Butter.
9.   Pour into Pie Crust.
10.   Arrange Apples decoratively on top of Browned-Butter Filling  [ I went for a spiral design ].

11.   In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the Flour, 1/4 cup of the Sugar, Brown Sugar and Cinnamon.
12.   Using a pastry blender, cut 1/4 cup of the Butter into Dry Mixture until Streusel looks like coarse
13.   Sprinkle Streusel over Pie.
14.   Bake Pie for 20 minutes.
15.   Remove Pie from oven.  Carefully cover edges of Pie Crust with strips of aluminum foil, to keep them
            from overbrowning.
16.   Return Pie to oven.
17.   Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue baking until Apples are softened and Crust is
            golden brown [ about 30-40 minutes ].
18.   Remove Pie from oven.  Cool 1 1/2 hours.
19.   Serve warm or at room temperature, with Sweetened Whipped Cream.        

Makes 1 9-inch pie.

   In the mood for more pie?
Pineapple and Macadamia Nut Tart

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