the pie i will make for a family soiree will be standard American apple on request of the organizer, spiced with standard cinnamon to stoke nostalgia and comfort – which is a noble holiday cause. Though I find apple pie itself an unorthodox choice for Thanksgiving for which pecan and pumpkin or sweet potato seem to reign.
i prefer an unorthodox pie. A very grown-up, quirky sort of apple pie, a Brooklyn apple pie perhaps, spiced with ginger, coriander, nutmeg and white pepper.
however homely or haute the filling, the success of pie is in the crust.
following the scientific method of Baking Illustrated, blitz together pastry dough in the food processor if you got one. The radical muffin kitchen has an over-sized pie plate requiring a recipe and a half of this dough, so we make three batches and two pies.
crush a dozen or so lady fingers or amaretti cookies in the processor, dump into a bowl and put aside. Without cleaning the machine, whiz together 1 cup of all purpose flour and ¼ cup of pastry flour with ½ teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Drop in 3 tablespoons of cold vegetable shortening and pulse then 4 tablespoons of cold butter and pulse until resembles rubble. Dribble in about 4 tablespoons booze of choice, in this case apple jack whiskey, that has been sitting in the freezer. Pulse to just combine, turn the dough out into a bowl and knead just a few turns until it all comes together. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic, and stash in the fridge to rest for a few hours.
roll out the chilled dough in crushed cookies instead of flour. Carefully fold the circle of dough in quarters and transfer to a pie plate dusted with cookie crumbs. Return to the fridge. We also cut out some birds with cookie cutters to fix onto the pie…fancy.
heat the oven to 425°.
peel and chop about 8 apples, mixed types – i believe we used McIntosh and Granny Smith. Toss the fruit with lemon juice. Grate in a bit of lemon rind and fresh ginger. Stir in ¼ cup of sugar, and a generous ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg, coriander and salt, grind in a few twists of white peppercorns.
turn the prepared fruit into the chilled pie dough. Place the filled pie on a cookie sheet and cover the rim with foil. Bake for about 25 minutes.
lightly beat an egg white and set aside a few tablespoons of granulated sugar. Pull the hot pie from the oven and remove the foil. Working quickly, top the pie with the chilled streusel dough and any pastry cutouts. Paint the rim and cutouts with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Return the pie to the oven for another half an hour, until deep golden brown and bubbling.
let cool a few hours, and serve with unsweetened whipped cream cut with sour cream.