Open-Faced Designer Apple Pie

luvcookin posted 11-22-99 7:06 PM pt (US)

Open-Faced Designer Apple Pie

1 Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust for a 9-inch lattice pie (see recipe)
1/2 egg white, lightly beaten
2 1/2 pounds baking apples, about 6 peeled, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup apricot preserves

Make the dough. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator. If necessary, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, until it is soft enough to roll.

On a floured pastry cloth or between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the pastry 1/8 inch thick or less and large enough to cut a 12-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide to cut out the circle. Transfer it to the pie plate. Trim the edge if necessary so that it extends 1/4 inch past the edge of the pie plate. Cover the pastry lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 24 hours.

Roll out the second piece of dough 1/8 inch thick and cut about twenty-six 2 1/2 inch leaves, using a cutter or a small sharp knife. Use a small sharp knife to make veins. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 425F at least 20 minutes before baking.

Line the pastry with parchment, pleating it as necessary so it fits into the pan, and fill it with dried beans or peas. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully lift out the beans with the parchment. With a fork, prick the bottom and sides and bake 5 to 10 minutes more or until the crust is pale golden. Check after 3 minutes and prick any bubbles that may have formed.

Cool the crust on a rack for 3 minutes, so it is no longer piping hot, then brush the bottom and sides with the egg white.

In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and toss to mix. Allow the apples to macerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours at room temperature.

Transfer the apples and their juices to a colander suspended over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture will release at least 1/2 cup of liquid.

In a small saucepan (preferably lined with a nonstick surface), over medium-high heat, boil down this liquid, with the butter, to 1/3 cup (a little more if more than 1/2 cup of liquid), or until syrupy and lightly caramelized. Swirl the liquid but do not stir it.

(Alternatively, spray a 4-cup heatproof measure with nonstick vegetable spray, add the liquid and butter, and boil it in the microwave, about 7 minutes on high.)

Meanwhile, transfer the apples to a bowl and toss them with the cornstarch until all traces of it have disappeared. Pour the hot syrup over the apples, tossing gently. (If the liquid hardens on contact with the apples, allow them to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes or until the moisture from the apples dissolves it.)

Arrange the apples, overlapping the slices in concentric circles in the pie shell, starting from the outside edge. Keep adding more apples, using the tip of a knife to help insert them in between the other slices, until you have used all the slices. Pour any remaining apple juices evenly over the apples.

Brush the baked pie crust rim with the egg. Brush the bottom of each leaf with egg and place the leaves on the border, tilting them and overlapping them slightly. Brush the top of the leaves with egg. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes before baking to chill the pastry. This will maintain flakiness.

Preheat the oven to 425F at least 20 minutes before baking. Set an oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating. Place a large piece of greased foil on top to catch any juices.

Set the pie directly on the foil-topped baking stone and bake for 15 minutes. Cut a round of foil to fit over the apples and the edge of the crust and crimp it in 3 or 4 places to create a dome. Cover the pie with the foil and cut 3 steam vents in the foil, about 3 inches long. Continue baking for 45 to 50 minutes or until the juices bubble and the apples feel tender but not mushy when pierced with a cake tester or a small sharp knife.

Remove the foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the top of the apples is golden brown. Remove the pie to a rack.

In a small saucepan or microwave oven, heat the apricot preserves until melted and bubbling. Strain them into a small cup. Brush them over the top of the apples. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Store: Room temperature, up to 2 days.

Note: For a different look, a 10- by 2-inch tart pan can be used. The fluted sides provide the decoration instead of the pastry leaf border. The apples should be covered when you put the pie in the oven, as there is no exposed pastry to brown.

Serves 8.

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