Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gourmet: Pecan Streusel Apple Pie

When I went to Cracker Barrel recently with my parents, I had a slice of the most amazing pie.  It was an apple pie with a pecan streusel topping.  Served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was just about as good as apple pie gets.  Only problem?  It's strictly a seasonal item and there is nowhere to get the recipe.  Restaurants really seem to enjoy taunting their patrons.

Well, I dug around on the internet for quite a while until I could find a recipe that looked like it might even be an approximation of the delicious dessert I remembered.  I had to make a few changes to get the pie the way I wanted it, but it turned out magnificently.  This is my new go-to apple pie recipe.

Just a note: it will look like you have ten tons of apple slices in this pie.  It scared me, too.  Just mound them up the best you can and throw that bad boy in the oven.  They'll all cook down pretty well, and you can redistribute a bit when you put the topping on.  And do not, absolutely DO NOT, cut this pie until it cools.  You will have a puddle running in the pan and on your plate, and that is very sad.

Pecan Streusel Apple Pie
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, January 1996

For pastry dough:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For topping:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup chopped pecans

For filling:
3 pounds Golden Delicious or Jonagold apples (about 6 medium)
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

To make pastry dough:
In a large bowl with a pastry blender or in a food processor blend or pulse together flour, sugar, salt, and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons ice water and toss with a fork or pulse until incorporated. Add enough remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing or pulsing to incorporate, until mixture begins to form a dough. On a work surface smear dough in 3 or 4 forward motions with heel of hand to slightly develop gluten in flour and make dough easier to work with. Form dough into a ball and flatten to form a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.

To make topping:
In a small bowl with your fingertips blend butter, brown sugar, and flour until smooth and blend in nuts. Chill topping, covered.

To make filling:
Peel and core apples. Cut apples into ½-inch wedges and in a bowl toss with remaining filling ingredients to coat.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a 15-inch round (about ⅛-inch thick) and fold into quarters for ease of handling. Unfold dough in a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet or 10-inch deep-dish (1½-quart) pie plate, easing to fit and letting dough overhang rim of skillet or pie plate. Spoon filling into shell and fold pastry overhang over filling, leaving center uncovered. Bake pie in middle of oven 1 hour (pie will not be completely cooked) and remove from oven.

Crumble topping over center of pie, breaking up any large chunks. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake pie in middle of oven 30 minutes more, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool pie on a rack.

Serve pie warm or at room temperature with ice cream.

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