RECIPE: Bay Leaf Infused Fig and Walnut Apple Pie

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So, I make a lot of pie. Apple pie, to be exact.
I take the parish apple pie contest every fall very seriously. I slave away in the kitchen every September experimenting with what I will be entering. This year, I tried 4 different pies. This was one I almost entered. I was keeping it for the ebook I am working on (I swear it's almost done, we are proofing it this month!) but I was playing with semolina and bay leaves this past weekend and I inadvertently came up with a tastier concoction for the ebook to replace this.

So I give you this amazing, hearty, decadent apple pie. It was based on a Martha Stewart pie, but with my crust, different steps and herbal changes.

You are probably wondering, OK-What did you enter and where is THAT recipe?
You guessed it, it's in the ebook. 
Oh, and I won.



Bay Leaf Infused Fig and Walnut Apple Pie

Ingredients:

Crust:
12 Tbsp. chilled, chopped butter
2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. chilled flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
4.5 oz. mascarpone cheese, chilled
1-2 Tbsp. ice water
1 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. sugar

Filling:
3/4 cup Madeira
5 oz. soft mission figs
3 whole star anise
3-4 dried bay leaves
3 lbs. apples (I like 70% Gala, 25% Golden Delicious, 15% Zestar) peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. butter
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
fine sanding sugar

Directions:




Make the crust:


I like making my crusts by hand. It actually is less work, and you don’t overwork the dough, making the crust more tender! All you need is a pastry cutter (or even a fork), a bowl and some elbow grease. Pour your flour, sugar, zest and baking powder in a bowl. Whisk with a fork, and cut in the 12 Tbsp. butter with a pastry cutter until you have the texture of small peas. Add the Mascarpone in a few clumps and cut that in until you have the texture of coarse cornmeal.  Drizzle the chilled water over the flour. You will not need much for things to start coming together, mascarpone has a lot of moisture. Add the 1-2 more teaspoons of water and continue to bring together with a pastry cutter or your hands at this point. Using saran wrap, quickly wrap two balls of dough, evenly divided, and flatten into round discs. Let chill for 30 minutes or overnight. Once rested and chilled, roll out your bottom crust between lightly floured plastic wrap until it fits your pie pan with 1/2 inch overhang. Peel off the top plastic wrap, and with your hand slid under the bottom of the dough flip it into your pie dish and peel off the bottom plastic wrap (which will now be at the top). Adjust the position of the dough. Press into the pie dish, trim so the overhang is 1/2” thick on all sides (patching as you need). Wrap pan in plastic wrap tightly and let rest in the refrigerator for one hour or overnight as well. At this point, I roll out my top crust as well, and lay it on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap to let it rest as well. Resting lets the gluten relax and prevent crust from shrinking and toughness.



Filling:

In a small saucepan, heat the Madeira to a light boil. Add the figs, anise and 2 bay leaves. Simmer until figs are softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer figs to a bowl, and reduce the syrup down to about 1/4 cup or so. Discard herbs and spices. Pour the syrup over the figs. Cover with tinfoil and let the figs sit. The steam will help soften the stubborn, tough figs in the batch and the juice will get absorbed, packing the figs with flavor.

Meanwhile, macerate the apple slices in a  large bowl with sugar, orange zest, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and cinnamon for at least 1 hour and up to 3. Drain apples, reserving juices. In a large pan over medium heat, melt butter. Saute the apples until just softened, roughly 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the reserved juice in a small saucepan. Add the last 2 bay leaves and heat the syrup to a rolling boil. Simmer until the juices are reduced to about 1/4 cup and it’s hot, thick and bubbly. Discard the bay leaves, and add the syrup to the softened apples in the pan. Next, roughly chop the softened figs and add them to the apples with any reserved liquid that was with the figs. Add the cornstarch to the apple mixture and toss gently. Mix in the walnuts as well and let the filling cool down while getting the pie dough out.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 425˚ with a parchment lined baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven for at least 20 minutes.

Take the prepared pan with the dough out to warm up slightly at room temperature. Pour the apple filling into prepared crust, pushing it in and mounding it if necessary. Take the top crust out as well to soften up slightly at room temp. Lay the top crust over the filling and trim excess overhang. Crimp the edges and cut steam holes. Whisk the egg yolk with the cream, and brush it over the crust. Sprinkle lightly with the sanding sugar.

Create a foil ring for the edges and have it handy and ready. Place the pie right on the hot baking sheet. Cover edges with foil ring if the edges are browning too fast. After about 30 minutes, I usually tent the whole pie with tinfoil pierced with a steam hole so that the apples get properly baked in the middle. I keep the tent on for about 20 more minutes, then take it off for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. Filling should be hot and bubbly and crust evenly golden brown. This takes about 50 minutes to 1 hour total. Let the pie sit out and cool down for a couple hours before cutting, to allow the pie to set up.

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