Skillet Apple Pie

From Cook's Illustrated

June 2009 - I hauled out my back issues of Cook's and discovered this. I'm not a big fan of making apple pie, but this didn't seem too hard. It turns out to be simple - and delicious.

Some people call this an apple pan dowdy - not sure why.

Prep time: 60 minutes (with some sitting around doing nothin')
Oven time: 20 minutes
Cooling time: 15 minutes
Serves 6

A. Top Crust    
flour 1 cup  
sugar 1 tablespoon  
  salt 0.5 teaspoon  
  Crisco vegetable shortening 2 tablespoons  
  butter, unsalted 6 tablespoons Cut into 0.25 inch pieces.
  ice water 3 tablespoons  

You can do this step a day ahead if you want.

The Crisco and butter need to be very cold. Unless you keep your Crisco in the refrigerator, you have to take the two tablespoons, put them in a plastic bag, and drop it into a bowl of water with ice. Let it sit there for 30 minutes. The cut up butter needs to be ice box cold as well.

Once this is all COLD, put the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Pulse it until they are well mixed.

Add the shortening to the processor and pulse it again until the mixture looks like sand - about 10 good solid pulses.

Now add the butter pieces and pulse it again 10 times. The whole mix should have a lumpy look to it, but the lumps should be no bigger than Cheerios.

Move the mix to a bowl.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water (not just cool, but ICE COLD) over the dough. Use a spatula to fold the mix over and press it together. The dough will start to stick together. You can add one more tablespoon of ice water if you need to.

Once the dough sticks together, turn it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form it into a hockey puck shape. Wrap it in more plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

B. The Filling    
green apples 2.5 pounds, about 5  
  apple cider 0.5 cup Not juice, but cider.
  maple syrup 0.3 cup  
  lemon juice 2 tablespoons  
  corn starch 2 teaspoons  
  cinnamon, ground 1/8 teaspoon  
  butter, unsalted 2 tablespoons  

Set the oven rack in the middle position. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. (Yes, 500.)

Prepare the apples - Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skins. I start from the stem end and cut around the apple so the peel comes off in one long piece. Then core the apples. If you don't have a corer, just cut down from the top to bottom about one half inch out from the stem; this leaves a square remainder core. Now slice the apples into 0.5 inch thick pieces. Try to do this evenly so the slices will all cook in about the same time. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the cider, maple syrup, lemon juice, corn starch and cinnamon. Whisk them all together.

In a 12-inch oven safe skillet (be sure the skillet will fit in your oven) melt the butter at medium-high. When it stops foaming add the apples. We want to brown the apples slightly so that they caramelize, so let them sit a while. Stir every 90 seconds. Cook until they are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cider mixture and stir gently. Leave the pan to cool a bit, about 15 minutes.

C. Dough from step A.    
Filling from step B.    
egg white 1 Lightly beaten
  sugar 2 teaspoons  

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to about 11 inches round. Now roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll it onto the top of the apples in the skillet. (If you haven't waited for those apples to cool off slightly the dough will immediately sag over the apples, as shown to the right. No worries, but next time follow directions!)

Brush the dough with the egg white and sprinkle the sugar over it. Use a sharp knife to bisect the dough and then cut twice more to make 6 squares.

Put the entire pan in the oven (you did check to make sure that long handled skillet would fit, right?).

Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove and let cool for 15 minutes.

Serve with ice cream.