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Monday, December 1, 2014

Deep Dish Apple Pie for One

There’s nothing so classic as an apple pie. You don’t have to make it deep dish, but I found this pretty purple one for $2, so I piled the apples high. They shrink a bit when you bake them anyway. The interesting twist in this little pie is the pinch of ground cloves. 

For the Crust (make this crust twice—doubling doesn’t come out as nicely):
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 TBLSP shortening or vegan butter
1 ½ TBLSP ice water (or half vodka)

For the Filling:
1 medium large apple—about ¾ cup of apple slices (I like gala or grannysmith)
Juice of a lemon wedge
1 TBLSP granulated sugar (use more or less, depending on the tartness of your apple)
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
½ teaspoon cornstarch

Make the Crust
It may seem silly to make this twice when you could just double the recipe. Believe me, I’ve tried it. Something breaks down in the science between a full-sized pie crust (serves 8) and this little guy, and the dough can be tough. So just do it twice. You don’t have to wash anything between times.
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour and salt.
  2. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then add the water/vodka and mix until it holds together in a very soft dough. (Vodka is a pie-maker’s trick. If you use it, the crust will be a little lighter. In such small quantities, though, you may not notice the difference. The alcohol burns off, so you don’t taste it, but, like the water, it evaporates and leaves little fluffy openings in the dough.)
  3. Form the dough into a ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Just squish it together until it holds.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 7- or 8-inch circle or square.
  5. Put the dough, still flat, in the refrigerator for an hour or two (overnight is fine). I use the same waxed paper that I roll it on (speeds clean-up), slide it onto a plate, and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. You might prefer plastic wrap if you have a lot of stinky things in your fridge.
  6. Now do the whole thing again. Don’t worry. It only takes 7 minutes.

Make the Filling:
  1. Peel, core, and quarter the apple. Slice it into thin pieces. You might want to cut it into eighths, since we’re making such a tiny little pie. They’ll snuggle up more closely that way. You decide.
  2. Give the slices a squirt of lemon juice, turning the pieces to make sure that everybody gets a chance to play with the lemon juice.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and cornstarch.
  4. Stir the sugar combination gently into the apple pieces. Everything should have a little furry coat.

Assemble the Pie:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease up your pie dish with spray oil, canola oil, or vegan butter. Mine is about 4-inches wide on the bottom and must be close to 5-inches across at the top. 
  1. Drape the dough designated to be the bottom crust into your prepared pie dish. Gently manipulate it into all the corners of the dish, patching any tears with pieces from the edges. Don’t worry about the edges for now. Just let them be free-form and happy.
  2. Place the filling into the bottom of the crust, snuggling it around so that it fills the dough completely. If it mounds up, that’s a good thing, because it will shrink a bit during baking.
  3. Cover the filling with the dough designated to be the top crust. Trim the edges of both crusts to be about ½ inch wider than the pie dish. Crimp the edges together with your fingers. You can make a pretty pattern by alternating in and out ripples, you could press a fork’s tines into it to make a neat pattern, or you could just leave it free. If you want to, decorate the top with any scraps of dough.
  4. Poke holes with a knife or fork at artistic and regular intervals in the top crust so that the apples inside can bubble up through somewhere. In a 4-inch dish, you’ll want about 6 holes. More is fine.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees, and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden and the contents are bubbling busily. (If the crust seems to be going too fast, you can make a little hat for the edges out of aluminum foil. Just fold a long strip of it in half and crimp it to fit snuggly against the edges of the crust.)
  7. Cool completely on a rack before making a complete monster of yourself and devouring suddenly. 

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