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July Fourth Dessert: Apple Pie

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Forget the food-colored fantasies and stick with Apple Pie, the quintessential American dessert. Break down the baking by preparing your pie dough a day or two ahead, roll it out, fill and bake the morning of your celebration.

It's as easy as pie. (Whoever originated that quote had their tongue in their cheek!)

But take note, bakers, and get practicing -- we'll be sharing news soon about Chow Bella's upcoming Pie Social, co-sponsored by Roosevelt Row. For now, mark your calendar: November 13.

Recipe after the jump

Double Pie Crust Ingredients: 4.5 cups AP Flour, sifted 2 teaspoons pure cane sugar 2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt, fine grain 8 oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled 4 oz shortening, cut into pieces and chilled 1/2 cup iced cold water 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

*For an all butter crust leave out shortening and use:
12 oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

Apple Pie Filling:
8-9 Granny Smith or other crisp-tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into sixths
¾ cups pure cane sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1-tablespoon cornstarch
Optional-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 and ½ tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream, half n half or milk
1-tablespoon raw sugar

Directions for crust:
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt for 1 minute.
Add the cold butter and cold shortening (if using) and mix on low speed until you have a crumbly looking mixture with visible pieces of butter the size of peas.
Add the vinegar to the water and stir.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the water, do not add all the water at once, add just enough water until dough forms.
Test the dough by gripping a bit in your hand, it should just hold together without crumbling. Small pieces of butter should be visible in the dough.
Remove dough from bowl onto work surface and divide into two mounds.
Knead lightly, just enough to bring dough together.
Shape dough into discs, flatten with your hands, and wrap in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes before rolling.
Dough may be stored for up to 2 days in refrigerator or up to 3 months in freezer.

Rolling dough:
Allow the dough to sit at room temperature until pliable while remaining cold.
Lightly dust work surface and top of dough with flour. Keep some flour on hand to continue to lightly sprinkle dough and surface while rolling.
Roll dough from the center to the outer edges, to form a circle, rotate the dough and the pin, always working from the center to the edge. Do not roll over the edge, and do not be concerned if edges crack.
If the dough becomes sticky or the butter begins to melt, place the dough back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and before continuing
Roll the dough until it is 2-3 inches larger than the diameter of the pie pan.
Beginning with the edge of the dough, roll the dough up and over the rolling pin, place the dough over the pie pan and slowly unroll the dough to position in pan.
Gently lift the edges of the crust and use your other hand to lightly pat the dough into the corners of the pie pan.
Place crust in the refrigerator to chill.

Roll out the second piece of dough for the topping. Place on a sheet of parchment or wax paper. For a lattice crust, use a paring knife or a pastry wheel and cut even strips. Stars or other decorative topping can be made using cookie cutters or stencils.

Directions for filling:
In a medium bowl toss apple slices, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla if using and cornstarch. Gently fill piecrust with apple mixture, and fill in open spots. Dot the apple mixture with butter pieces. Brush the overhanging dough with cream, place pie dough crust on top and pinch edges together. Trim the edge with a knife or scissors, leaving a 1-inch edge. Press the edge with a fork or using two knuckles on one hand and a knuckle on the other, push outward with the two knuckles while pushing inward with the single knuckle to create a "u", repeat all the way around the pie. Vent the crust: using a small paring knife cut five slits in a star pattern in center of top crust.

For a lattice top: place strips of dough all the way across the pie.
Fold the 1st 3rd 5th 7th ...strips half way back on themselves, place a strip crossing the folded back pieces, and bringing the folded strips back over. Repeat with the 2nd 4th 6th 8th ...strips, alternating the pattern until the pie is covered in both directions.
Pinch the lattice strip ends together with fingers.

Brush top of finished piecrust lightly with cream and sprinkle with raw sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Place pie on a sheet pan to catch any drips.
Place in oven for 20 minutes, rotating pie after 10 minutes from front to back.
Turn oven temperature down to 350 F
Bake pie for 20 minutes; rotate the pie in the oven from front to back.
Bake for additional 20 minutes or until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

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