Making apple pie reminds me of my mother, who has recently passed away. She liked sharing an anecdote of how, when she was pregnant with me, she craved for apples all day that when I was born, my cheeks were round and rosy like apples. Whether by nature or nurture, apple became one of my favourite fruits up to the present. Curiously, while Mom baked and cooked quite a bit when my siblings and I were children, she ordered apple pies from a specialty cake shop, or at a restaurant when we ate out.
Most of her recipes were committed to memory, and unfortunately, she didn’t pass this on to her children, as she expected us to just figure out what we liked to cook or prepare on our own. There was one thing she passed on though, which I treasure to this day: a collection of cookbooks from Time-Life Books, which she bought before I was born. The one that I was most intrigued by since I was a child was the chapter on tarts and pies. There, the mystery on how to prepare my favourite fruit in pastry, was unlocked and elucidated.
I’ve prepared this apple pie several times to celebrate an anniversary, for a friend’s birthday and lately, as an act of love for my family when I returned to Cebu for my mother’s vigil. I had wanted to prepare this for her before she died, and let her know that she doesn’t need to order apple pie anymore because I could finally make it for her. Perhaps in my dreams, we can share a pie together with vanilla ice cream, her favourite dessert.
This recipe was featured in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Click here for to view online.
Preparation time: 4.5 hours
Baking time: 45 minutes
Yields: 12 slices
4 medium Gala, Granny Smith, Washington or Red Delicious apples
3/4 cup coco sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 puff pastry sheets*
*To make the puff pastry dough:
250 grams all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
225 grams or 1 block of butter
90 ml water
1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Cut a quarter of the butter into small spoonfuls, and add them into the bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Add just enough cold tap water to bind the ingredients and work them into a shaggy lumpy ball. Wrap it in floured plastic film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
2. Place remaining butter between two sheets of wax paper, and using a rolling pin, flatten it gently into a semi-rectangular slab, about 6 x 4 inches. The paper will prevent the butter from sticking to the rolling pin and work surface. Chill the butter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Take out ball of dough and remove plastic wrap. Lightly flour an even work surface. Roll the dough into an even square or rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick, and large enough for the corners to fold over and envelope the butter.
4. Place butter at centre of dough, and peel off wax paper. Draw up the four corners of dough and fold each over the butter so that they meet at the center, as if making an envelope. Press edges and seams of the envelope gently together using fingers or the rolling pin.
5. Roll the dough into a wide rectangle, about three times the size of the original. Press evenly and lightly, so as not to squeeze out the butter. If this happens, and some butter is bound to leak, dust some more flour on the area to seal it, but be careful not to put too much flour, lest the dough becomes tough and dry. Continue to press evenly and lightly until you get an even rectangle.
6. Fold the dough into thirds, by folding one end of the dough over the centre, then folding the other end over the top, to make three layers of dough. Seal the air inside the layers by pressing the edges of the dough down lightly with the rolling pin. Wrap and chill the dough for about 30 minutes.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 twice, with a half-hour interval for refrigeration. After the third roll and fold step, wrap and chill the dough for another 30 minutes for the final refrigeration.
8. While dough is chilling, peel, core and slice the apples and toss them in a large mixing bowl, together with coco sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Coat all ingredients together and allow the juices to naturally mingle. Cover in plastic film and refrigerate.
9. Take out pastry dough from refrigerator and roll out to two flat sheets on top of baking paper. Place the baking container upside down at the centre of the pastry sheet, to indicate where to measure the sheet. Gently scoop up one sheet and ease it into the baking container (tin or glass).
10. Fill the pastry case with the apples and let the juices flow into the shell. Sprinkle the top with bits of leftover flour (if there are still some left from when you were rolling the pastry sheet). Cover it with the second pastry sheet and seal the edges together with the bottom sheet. Trim the overhang to 1 inch. Crimp the edges decoratively into scallop shapes by pressing your thumb and forefinger together between each line. Crack and beat an egg, and use this egg wash to seal the edges of the pie crust using a silicon brush, as well as to brush the top lightly to give it a deep golden brown surface. Freeze the pie for an hour.
11. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the apple pie on a baking rack and using a fork, pierce the top a few times for venting, before transferring the pie to the oven. Bake the pie for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is crisp and golden brown. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, before cutting into wedges to serve.