RECIPE: Ginger Maple Apple Pie


 If you are a follower of my little blog, you may have noticed a plethora of apple pie recipes. I made it my mission a few years ago to win my parish's apple pie contest. And as everything I set my mind to, I practiced, developed and experimented each year with ferocity. So I have gotten pretty good at apple pies. Many of the apple pie recipes I have here could win you an award. In fact, the brown butter sage one did! It won the Williams Sonoma fall baking contest finalist as well as my parish judge's 1st place winner. The other pie that won the parish contest-the judges and popular vote-you'll need to buy my little ebook Savoring Sweet to find out about. (Sorry, but I have to pay for this blog somehow! Google Adsense sure ain't paying the bills.)

All my apple pie baking experiences led me to whip up this pie a few weeks ago when we had guests over in the country. Fall had started in Michigan and I needed to fill our little lake house with the smell of apples and cinnamon. I brought fresh ginger paste and real maple syrup to the apple bowl and used my tried and true trick I learned from Rose Levy Beranbaum about cooking off the apple juices into a syrup, and WOW was this pie A. MA. ZING. And I mean ZING with the hit of ginger.

I also played with my fork tines (see above) in a cross hatch pattern on the dough top before assembling it. I then twisted flattened strips aloong the edge and made a rose with leaves using scraps. The effect was kind of a rustic basket with a flower in the middle. I think it turned out pretty nice. What do you think?


Ginger Maple Apple Pie 

Ingredients:

Apples:
8 cups of apples; peeled, cored and sliced ( I prefer a mix of tart/firm and soft/sweet (Galas, Pink Ladies/Ida Reds and a couple of Granny Smiths do the trick)

1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon of cornstarch 
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup 
half a teaspoon of lemon zest 
2 tablespoons of lemon juice 
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon 
2 teaspoons of ground ginger or ginger paste 
3/4 cup of light brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
3 tablespoons of butter 

Crust:
12 Tbsp. butter, cold and cut up
2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4.5 oz. cream cheese, chilled
1-2 Tbsp. chilled ice water (or more if needed)


Assembly:
one egg, beaten, for the wash on top of crust 
coarse sugar for sprinkling on top 

Directions:


Macerate the apples by mixing them in a huge bowl with the maple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice, the ground cinnamon, ginger paste, brown sugar, and salt. Toss well and let sit for an hour to an hour and a half.

 


Meanwhile, make the crust.
Pour your flour,  baking powder and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times. Cut in the 12 Tbsp. butter and pulse a couple times until you have the texture of small peas. Add the cream cheese in a few clumps and pulse that in until you have the texture of coarse cornmeal.  Drizzle the water over the flour mixture and pulse. You will not need much for things to start coming together, cream cheese has a lot of moisture. Add the 1-2 tablespoons of water and pulse until the dough begins to just come together. If the dough comes together by pressing it with your fingers, it's ready. Using saran wrap, evenly divide the dough into two parts, and quickly using the plastic wrap and your hands, press, and form two balls of dough, evenly divided. Flatten them both into round discs. Wrap well and let chill for 30 minutes or overnight. Once rested, roll out your bottom crust between lightly floured saran wrap until it fits your pie pan with 1/2 inch overhang. Peel off the top saran wrap, and with your hand slid under the bottom of the dough flip it into your pie dish and peel off the bottom saran wrap (which will then be at the top) as you 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 saran wrap tightly and let rest for 1 hour or overnight as well. I roll out my top crust as well and lay it on a baking sheet covered with saran wrap to rest as well. Resting lets the gluten relax and prevent shrinking and toughness.

(If you would like a how-to on how to make a pie crust in a food processor, check out my youtube video here)

(If you want a how-to on how to make a pie crust by hand, check out my youtube video here)


Once apples are macerated, drain the syrup out of the apples into a small saucepan. Boil and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until only 1/3 remains and the juice is syrupy and bubbly. 

Heat oven to 425° and have a baking sheet at the lowest rack of our oven. Let the pan heat at 425˚ for at least 20 minutes before baking the pie.



Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter and lightly sauté the apples until just softened. This assures that the apples will be cooked through in the pie. This is getting things melded together and started.

Turn off heat, and add the reduced syrup back into the apples and toss with the cornstarch. Let cool a little bit then pour warm apples into the prepared bottom crust in the pie pan. 



Top with top crust, seal and crimp sides. Make steam holes on the top with a sharp knife. (**Note, if you are making a decorative top, like poked circles, cut flowers or a cross hatch pattern with fork tines, do it while the dough is flat on some plastic wrap, then transfer to the top of the pie before sealing. Working with the top while it's flat is a lot easier.) Once all assembled, brush the top with the whipped egg and sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar.

Place pie on the hot baking sheet and cook for about 45-55 minutes. If edges brown too quickly, crimp some tinfoil like a baking shield around the pie to protect it, while the center continues to cook. You are looking for bubbly syrup in the middle and an even golden brown. Let cool for at least 3 hours to set up before serving.

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