Pie #1: Apple Black Crystal Pie aka ‘The Starry Pie’

I baked a few pies over the past week. Most went into the pie bank so you can hear about ’em in upcoming weeks. I know I had originally promised Pie #1 would be Persimmon Meringue, but to put it mildly…I’ve already messed up two versions of it. I promise to tell you all about it. Until then, let’s start off with the first pie recipe I developed myself: Apple Black Crystal Pie. It’s an apple-blackberry pie with crystallized ginger brown butter!

Apples, blackberries and crystallized ginger brown butter!

Not only is this the first pie recipe I ever put together, but it is sure a crowd-pleaser. I entered this pie in the Martha Stewart Show’s first annual pie contest and it was one of five finalists. You can check out the video here (click on the fifth video, “Pie Contest Winner” to see Martha tasting my pie). While Marjorie Johnson won (and in my opinion doesn’t count as an amateur–she’s got a cookbook and umpteen TV appearances) I’m still thrilled I made it so far and that Martha thought my pie was “well made and pretty”. JUST LIKE ME! Anyway, read on for the recipe. Apple Black Crystal Pie

All butter pie crust for a double crust pie (I’ll talk about crusts more later, but try this one for starters)
3 pounds Empire Apples
Small handful of frozen blackberries (about 4-5 oz)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 oz. butter (depends solely on how indulgent you wish to be)
2-3 tablespoons of crystallized ginger ground up in a food processor
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoons of arrowroot or cornstarch (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream
Turbinado sugar

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Roll out half of your pie crust to 1/8th an inch thick on a piece of floured, waxed paper. Press a 9-inch pie pan into the dough so you have a guide. Use a ruler to find the exact center of the circle and mark it with your fingernail or a knife. Using a small, star-shaped cookie cutter cut your first star out of the pie dough. Now repeat cutting out stars radiating out from the original star. You should try alligning the top tips of each layer of stars to the indent of the star points above. *Make sure to leave at least 1 inch between the tip of your outermost star and the edge of your guide! Return dough to refrigerator.

2. Roll out second half of dough to 1/8th an inch thick and press into 9-inch pie pan. Trim the dough flush with the pie pan.

3. Peel the apples, core them and cut them into eights. Then cut each 8th in half. In a large metal or glass bowl combine the apples, blackberries and brown sugar.

4. Make the brown butter. Heat the butter in an aluminum pan over medium heat, swirling from time to time, until brown solids develop and it gives off the smell of hazelnuts.

5. Remove pan from heat and immediately mix in the crystallized ginger. Quickly add this mixture to the fruit and mix thoroughly. Make sure all of the apples get a nice blush of color from the blackberries. Then add the cinnamon and arrowroot or cornstarch. Mix to combine.

6. Add the fruit mixture to the bottom crust. Use a spatula to scrap all of the gingery, buttery bits out of the bowl. Press the fruit down so it is level.

7. Carefully place the starry top crust over the fruit. Trim top crust ALMOST flush with the edge of the pie pan (about 1/8th of an inch or less. Press the ends of the crust together and tuck the excess dough underneath itself so the crust is flush with the pie pan. Refrigerate the entire pie for 15 minutes to an hour.

8. Whisk together egg yolk and cream. Brush the mixture over the top of the crust , being careful not to pick up an blackberry bits on the brush (these will stain the crust). Sprinkle sugar over the crust.

9. Place pie on a baking sheet and cook on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Then lower heat to 375 and cook for another 70-80 minutes, until fruit is bubbling. Peek at the crust from time to time; if the pie reaches a nice amber color before it’s done simply drape a piece of aluminum foil over the pie-don’t press down or crimp it over the pie.

Voila!

A perfect slice of pie.

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