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For cooks who really need a visual on what it looks like to roll out a pie dough and don't have a poly-bagged, butter-proofed iPad in their kitchen yet, Jane Horby's What to Cook and How to Cook It spells out 100 simple, easy-to-follow recipes with clear, sequential photographs. I'd recommend it for any cook who want to make something as simple as apple pie.
Here's what you'll need:
1 tbsp flour, plus extra for rolling out
2 quantities basic pie crust, or 12 (14-oz) packages store-bought pie dough
1 organic lemon
3 ¼ lb apples, such as Granny Smith, Rome, Jonagold or Golden Delicious
1/3 cup fine sugar, plus 1 tbsp
1tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
ice cream or whipped cream, to serve (optional)
1 large egg
scant 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 stick ( ½ cup) cold unsalted butter
Working on a floured surface, shape the dough into two discs, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap them in plastic wrap, then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until firm but not hard. If using ready-made pastry, leave the blocks as they are.
Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the lemon into a large pan. Peel and core the apples, then cut into very chunky slice, around 1 inch thick. As you chop each apple, put the pieces into the pan and toss with the lemon juice. The lemon juice will keep the apples from turning brown.
Cook the apples gently in the pan over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the slices are just starting to soften and looking juicy at the bottom of the pan. Drain the apples, if necessary, in a colander, discarding the liquid, then put them in a bowl and gently stir in 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and the cinnamon. Let cool.
Flour the work surface and a rolling pin. Using the rolling pin, press shallow ridges evenly across the larger piece of dough, then rotate it by a quarter turn. Repeat this until the dough is about ½ inch thick. This will help the dough to stretch without becoming though.
Have ready a 9-inch pie pan. It should have a lip so that the dough has something to stick to. Now roll out the dough. Push the rolling pin in one direction only, turning the dough by a quarter turn every few rolls, until it is less than ¼ inch thick. Using the rolling pin to help, lift the dough over the plate.
If you have made your own dough, use the leftover white from the egg that you separated earlier. If you have used store-bought pie crusts, separate the egg now and reserve the white. Beat the white a little with a fork. Dip a pastry brush into the egg white, then brush lightly around the lip of the pie crust. It will help the top and bottom pieces stick together.
Put the apples in the dough-lined dish, forming a small mound.
Roll out the second piece of dough as described in steps 4 and 5, until it is large enough to cover the top of the pie. Gently drape the dough over the top of the apples, then press it down at the edges to seal.
Trim the edges using a pair of scissors or a sharp knife, then slash the pastry over the apples a few times, so that steam can escape while the apples cook.
If you’re feeling creative, press the edges of the pastry together with your thumbs to make a ridged pattern. Cut a few leaves from the excess dough. Stick them onto the pie with a little of the egg white.
Brush the top of the pie evenly with a thin layer of egg white, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Chill for 15 minutes (or up to 1 day). Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
Place the pie on a baking sheet, then place in the oven to bake for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is deep golden all over. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before slicing, to allow the juices and apples to settle and the crust to firm a little. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream.