What's for Dinner: White House Apple Pie

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I had the pleasure of taking a private tour of the White House gardens last week as part of a social media "Tweetup" during the annual White House Fall Garden Tour. The event included a Q&A with executive pastry chef Bill Yosses, whose job for the past five years has been to make desserts for the first family. More than anything else, he told our group, President Barack Obama loves pie. This time of year, that means one thing: apple.

This recipe from the "Crustmaster" takes some effort but yields a dessert Michelle Obama has described as "dangerously good." Mr. Yosses says his secret is to use the best quality ingredients, which often means organic. He also pre-bakes the bottom crust first, "until it's brown," and then bakes it again when it's filled. He prefers McIntosh apples.

For crust
  • 3 cups (about 13 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) cool to room temperature unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 ounces lard, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup ice water
For filling
  • 2 pounds apples, such as Gala, Granny Smith or McIntosh, peeled, cored and cut into half-inch wedges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey, preferably local
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • For egg wash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sugar for sprinkling

To make crust, in a food processor pulse together flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and lard, then pulse briefly until the mixture forms small crumbs. Add the ice water and pulse just until a dough forms. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

When dough is chilled, prepare pie shell. On a floured surface roll out one disc to a 14-inch circle using a rolling pin. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased deep 9-inch pie pan, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Refrigerate the crust in the pan for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

When ready to bake the bottom crust, heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cold crust with foil and fill with baking weights, rice or dry beans to hold it in place. Bake pie shell for 30 minutes and remove from oven. Leave the oven on once the crust is done.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large saucepan, toss together the apples, sugar, honey, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Bring the fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the fruit thickens. Let cool. When the filling has cooled, pour it into the baked crust. Roll out the second disc of dough to about 12 inches.

In a small bowl, beat egg with the salt. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg on the edges of the cooked crust. Place top crust over filling. Using a fork or crimper, gently crimp the top crust, sealing the pie around the edges.

Slit the top of the crust with a paring knife in several places to create steam vents. Brush egg wash over the crust, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the top crust is golden brown. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Serves 8.

-- White House pastry chef Bill Yosses, via Obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

recipes - whatsfordinner

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


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