A holiday apple-walnut pie, in a sugar cookie crust

Sweet, buttery cookie-like crust makes this pie a favouriteWhen I serve this pie, everyone swoons. The crust is a cross between regular (boring) pie crust and a sugar cookie. Pies can be daunting, but I have tried to make the directions foolproof. If you follow them, you will have success. Apple-walnut is classic, and one of my more-popular flavours. But you can use the same technique to make any type of fruit pie.

 
Take your time. Set a couple of hours aside to bake. Be confident. You can do this!
 
Crust:
3 cups White Lily All-purpose flour or
2½ cup all-purpose flour, such as Robin Hood or King Arthur
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
3 eggs (one whole egg, beaten for the topping, and 2 yolks for the crust)
2 sticks or a half pound of good quality butter – very cold and cut into pieces.
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp, sanding sugar for the topping (from a gourmet store)
 
Apple-walnut filling:
3 cups peeled and sliced apples
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup walnut pieces
½ cup flour
½ cup melted butter
Mix all ingredients
 
Preheat your oven to 475F/250C
 
In the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade:
 
3 cups of White Lily all purpose baking flour or 2½ cups of all purpose flour and ½ cup of pastry flour (This mixture makes the harder Northern flour act like the softer Southern flour. It delivers a lighter, flakier crust.)
 
Add the sugar and salt and mix
 
Cut 2 sticks of good quality butter in pieces with a very sharp knife. The butter needs to be ice cold!
 
Add to the flour and pulse
Add 2 egg yolks
Pulse till you see the flour make coarse crumbs
Add ¼ to ½ cup of ice-cold water (not ice!) slowly through tube as you pulse – just until the crust forms a ball. You need to add the water. It makes steam to help make the crust light. Add it slowly. If you add too much, it will be sticky and a mess.
 
Turn the curst onto a large piece of wax paper, covered lightly in flour. I like to use paper even on marble or granite, as it makes the crust easy to lift into the pan.
 
Cut the dough in two.
Quickly, with cool hands, form 2 round flat disks
Wrap one in plastic and place it in the fridge.
Lightly flatten the top of the other disk. Flip it over, and lightly flour the other side.
Do not flour the rolling pin – it is pointless!
Roll the crust out with short quick firm light strokes. Roll from the middle out.
Rotate the dough a quarter-turn every few rolls. Make sure you can lift it from the paper. If it begins to stick, lightly flour the crust again.
 
Keep a 9- or 10-inch glass pie plate that you have sprayed with PAM or greased lightly nearby to check the size of your circle.
 
When the crust is big enough to fit the pan with a slight overhang, then use the wax paper to flip the crust into the pan the pie pan. Peel off the paper as you ease the crust into pan. Trim the edge and leave a slight overhang. The crust will shrink as it bakes.
 
Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate the crust while you roll the top, repeating the process.
 
Refrigerate the top crust flat on a large cookie sheet. Cover it with plastic to keep it from drying out until you are ready to fill the pie.
 
Fill pie with the apple-walnut mixture.
 
Place the top crust over the filled pie and trim with a generous overhang. Bring the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust to seal the pie. Crimp the pie’s edge by pushing it between your two bent knuckles with one knuckle of the opposing hand. This makes a classic edge.
 
You can re-roll your scrap dough and cut small leaves with a cookie cutter to make a border for your pie. You can also cut pretty seasonal shapes to decorate the top. Use your imagination. Small cookie cutters are available online or from www.wilton.com or Williams-Sonoma.
 
Tip: Chill the pies in the refrigerator or freezer for 30 minutes before baking. This help make the crust lighter and flakier.
 
Right before baking, cut a few slits in the top with a sharp knife for the steam to escape. Brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg for an appetizing sheen. Them sprinkle with sanding sugar.
 
Place the pie in a preheated oven. Place the pie on a foil-covered baking sheet to catch any juice from the filling. After 15 minutes, cover the pie loosely with foil – just lay it over pie and lower the oven to 320F/160C. Bake for one hour and 20 minutes, or until the pie looks golden through the glass.
 
Cool on a rack!
 
Tip: If your pie has overflowed and is sticky on the bottom, just wet an old dishcloth with warm water and pace the cool pie plate on the towel to loosen the baked filling. You can then easily clean the pan for a pristine plate.
 
Enjoy!
 
 

 

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