I love Alton Brown. He explains the science/art of cooking in a way that makes it fun and memorable. I have tried a few of his recipes and the only one that frustrated me with the results was his totally-made-from-scratch coconut cake. It took me days to complete and the end result was good but not worth all the trouble in my humble opinion. That being said, his applejack-laced pie crust rocks! My son had tried it first and since it was his first attempt at making a pie crust and it was successful I thought I should try it, too. He gave me the leftover bottle of applejack and I gave the recipe a whirl. I made the dough last night and let it chill overnight. I was so anxious to finish it that I awoke at 6am and started baking! There were only two sad little apples in my kitchen and not wanting to go to the store that early ( and who does that anyway??) I decided to make a mini apple pie using my smallest pie pan. I didn't do the whole grains of paradise thing that his recipe calls for- I simply cut up the apples and sprinkled them with a little sugar and a wisp of salt and let them sit to release some of their liquid. I drained the liquid off, added cinnamon and a little more sugar, and put them in the pan. I dotted the apples with butter and drizzled on some of my home-made boiled cider. The crust recipe makes 2 9" crusts so I used half of the recipe and made 2 crusts from it- top and bottom crusts. I rolled it perhaps just a taaaaaad too thinly to fit the pan but it still worked. The dough is soft once the chill was off so I rolled it out between 2 sheets of cling film. Worked like a charm and I didn't have to add but a minimal amount of flour to keep it from sticking to the film. AB's recipe said to bake it at 450 on the lowest level of the oven and bake it until the apples are tender and the crust is brown. I sat the dish onto the baking tiles that I keep on the lowest rack in my oven and that worked out perfectly. The bottom browned as nicely as the top did. The only thing I will do differently next time is to cover the edges with foil as soon as the crust is set. As you can see from the pictures they got a little too brown. Still all in all I think it was a success. I also brushed the top crust with an egg wash, sprinkled it with some demerara sugar (just for pretty!) and cut several slits in the crust to release the steam as it baked. Should I invest in one of those cute little pie birds??
The pie is cooling and it looks and smells gorgeous! I almost hate to cut into it but once The Critic gets home this afternoon the point will be moot...
I have several more crust recipes to try: Rose's cream cheese and butter, an old-fashioned one using egg and vinegar (which my sister assures me will always be easy to handle but perhaps not so flaky), and one using 2 ounces of lard with 6 ounces of butter. I have used pure lard in a crust before and it was heavenly flakiness but a little 'meaty' tasting. If I could find pure leaf lard I would be happy to use pure lard, but, alas, that seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird. I have rendered my share of lard in my day and if I can find a slaughterhouse that will save me the raw fat from the kidneys and intestines I will make it myself. Hey, you can't keep an old country girl down!
So for now I am crusted out. I have ciabatta in the oven (my first attempt) so I must tend to them!