Apple and Pear Lattice Pie + flaky vodka crust

Personal update. I’ll be honest, I’ve been stuck in a rut as of late. So, nothing too complex today. Today is pie day and pies are meant to be comforting; artless.

This might sound silly, but sometimes making food is the most control I have over the course of a day. The times when it turns out just as I expect it to, as is the case here, I consider the day won and my work here done. When it turns out to be flop, after a poopy day at work, I turn into a monster.

I’ve been on edge! At some point, surely, everyone experiences the pressure to compare their progress with that of others. And its hitting me haardd. I’ve been coping by trying to remain as productive as possible, but that plan has been running out of steam. I resort to baking pie.

NYC certainly has a lot to it – museums, exhibitions, lectures. (Last week, we hit up a talk on creativity where scientists told stories about important milestones in their lives.) But sifting through the mayhem to find something really meaningful is so difficult. 90% of the time an event is food-related, which is great and all, but I seriously doubt that eating is all there is to do in as diverse a city as this.

So, anyone who’s interested in my sanity (and waistline – there’s only so much pie I can handle) – do you have any recommendations for (indoor, outdoor, whatever) podcasts, books, activities, anything to keep the rusty cogs of my brain cells well-oiled?

That being said, back to this pie. And we aren’t going to leave without learning something.
Like the fact that Honeycrisp – the Prada of apples – aren’t necessarily the best. These babies can cost up to $4 a pound, which is crazy because I wager most people can’t taste the difference between Honeycrisp and a good old Fuji. The reason why they’re so expensive is likely because they have to be trellised to protect the fruit from dropping and bruising. Trellising, or espalier, is a horticultural method where the tree or shrub grows sideways on a vertical support (trellis) or against a wall. This is typical for peas, but equally used for apples and pears. Espaliering requires more manpower, involving pruning the lateral branches for years until tree can bear fruit.
Anyway, I’m happy to report that good ol’ Golden Delicious ranks pretty high on the list of best baking apples. Which is great, because that’s all my fruit cart guy had on this brisk 7 am morning.
Apple pies come in so many renditions, it’s amazing. I’m looking to try my hand at tarte tatin, and I’m still confused as to the difference between English- and Dutch-style? What’s a traditional All-American apple pie, anyway?
What I’m trying to say is, maybe a less control isn’t always bad. A little chaos might be appropriate for this pie. Like, uh, I don’t know, vodka.

In my last post, I mentioned stuff like binders and gluten. We want a flaky, delicate crust on this pie, so we don’t want to form gluten. But a water-based binder, which brings together the fat and flour to form a cohesive dough, stands in the way of that.
Vodka to the rescue. Cooks Illustrated came up with a pie crust recipe where vodka, being only 60% water, substitutes some of the liquid. It evaporates in the oven, and doesn’t hydrate the gluten proteins (glutenin and gliadin) in the way that water does, andso keeps them from interacting with each other.
The rest is easy as pie.
I added Bosc pears because why not, and proceeded with a very good instructional video (see the recipe) on making lattice tops. This was my first ever attempt, so forgive the weird curvy-ness and just make this already. Another note – sorry about the weird mix of metric and imperial units. It’s been 4 years and I still use the more intuitive metric system. Tbh I’m just waiting for everyone to use SI units and be done with it.

Apple and Pear Lattice Pie

Loosely based off this very simple rendition from acozykitchen (she makes lovely cakes too!)
Yields one 9-inch pie
All Butter Vodka Pie Crust
2 cups AP flour
0.5 cups whole-wheat flour
2 sticks/1 cup salted butter, cut into about 2cm cubes (if using unsalted, add in a teaspoon of table salt)
0.25 cup vodka, chilled
about 0.25 cup water, chilled
Make the pie dough. First, ensure you have a cold work surface and ingredients – we want the butter to hold its integrity for as long as possible. Mix in the flours (and salt). Rub the butter into the flour in two additions. You don’t want to completely break down the cubes, but instead coat as much flour as possible with it. Use only your fingertips and work quickly. You should end up with a fluffier but heftier texture, with many blobs of butter still intact.
Add the vodka and incorporate, then add as much chilled water as you need for the dough to just come together, kneading as you go. Stop here! Don’t overmix.
Divide the dough into two balls, then flatten into circular disks, about half an inch thick. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Apple and Pear filling
2 apples, halved and cored (Use any kind you like)
1 Bosc pear, cut transversely in the middle (while these are sweet, Barlett pears offer more crunch)
3 tbsp AP flour
0.25 cup brown sugar
0.25 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
4.5g raw turbinado sugar (1 packet of this)
Cut the apples and pear into slices, as thin as you can go (I think I got mine down to 1mm). Toss these in a bowl with the flour, sugars and cinnamon, being careful not to crush your beautifully prepared slices.Make sure everything is coated well, then refrigerate.
Prepare your 9-inch baking dish by lining the bottom with baking parchment.
Remove one dough disk and if need be, leave at room temp until malleable. Then, on a liberally-floured work surface, roll out from the middle outwards, until you get a circle that’s about 12-inches in diameter, about 3mm in thickness. Making sure your rolling pin is well-floured, roll the dough over the pin like you’re rolling in a scroll, and then unroll over your baking dish. This circumvents the awkward process of peeling off your dough from the work surface, thereby distorting its shape. Viola. Painless.
Make sure you trim off or fill in any weird edges, leaving 1.5cm of overhang.
Take out the other dough disk and let it become malleable. Combine with any remaining dough scraps from the previous disk. Roll out, as before, but this time cut the circle into as many 2cm strips as you can. You can play with this measurement depending on how thick you want the lattice to be.
Re-roll any scraps and turn them into strips, too.
Fill your pie. You have the option of just dumping the filling in, but if you’re less lackadaisical you might layer them on top of each other (see photo above). Alternate between apple and pear, or don’t. It’s your pie, after all. Just make sure it’s filled evenly and you get in all the thick juices that have seeped out of the fruit.
Lay 6-7 pieces of your dough strips on the pie, using shorter pieces at either edge. Turn 90degrees, then fold back every other strip, lay down a new strip, and fold over the former strips. Ok, or just watch this. Repeat until you’ve woven the lattice crust.
Now, fold the overhang over the lattice ends (I forgot this step, as you can see), and crimp the edges into a deep V-shape using your index finger and thumb. Any scraps, again, can be re-rolled and turned into decorative shapes.
Brush your pie all over with the egg. (Then, if you have an decorations you can add them and brush again with egg wash.) Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Freeze (yes, freeze) for 20 min while you preheat the oven to 425F.
Transfer the pie straight from the freezer to the oven and bake for 25 min on the bottom rack. Then move it to the centre rack and bake at 325F for another 30 min. If the crust starts to brown too much, cover with aluminium foil, but not too tight otherwise it’ll become soggy. The pie is done when the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling and viscous.
Do not dig in until you’ve let it rest for an hour! Serve on its own, or with a scoop of ice cream.
p.s. This would go SO nicely with clotted cream ice cream, but I can’t find it anywhere in the States. Please, if you know where this is stocked help a sista out. It haunts my dreams.


Other links:
Looking for apple tart? Here’s a throwback
One of my favourite movies, Waitress, features pie and is now a musical
Thicker lattice top apple pie

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