When one thinks of cooking or baking with apples, the first thing that comes to mind is usually apple pie, and there are many versions of this tasty treat.
Ambrosia apples are ideal for apple pie. In fact, when making apple pie with Ambrosia apples, you might not need as much sugar. Ambrosia apples are naturally sweet so many bakers find that they can actually cut down on the sugar in their usual apple pie recipe.
This month, we headed into the Test Kitchen to perfect a traditional humble Ambrosia Apple Pie. Besides the Ambrosia apples, the crust is the most important element of a tasty apple pie.
Some helpful tips for pie dough:
Too much water causes the dough to become sticky and tough; too little causes the edges to crack and the pastry to tear when rolling.
The ingredients should be mixed well enough to hold together, but not so much as to melt or break down the fat entirely.
Roll the dough without using too much flour, or your dough might be tough.
Chill the dough to maintain the quality of the crust.
Butter makes a lighter, flakier crust because butter has more water in it. In the oven, the water in the crust turns to steam, pushing up the floury dough and creating tender flaky layers. The downside to butter is that it melts quickly when handled, so you work quickly. Shortening has a higher melting point, so it’s a little easier to work with than butter — and a shortening crust will also maintain fluted edges and lattice better than an all-butter crust. Lard is also an option: it has a little more flavour than shortening and doesn’t melt as quickly as butter so it’s easy to work with.
For a super-flakey crust, mix 2 teaspoons of sugar with the flour, and 2 teaspoons of vinegar with the ice water.
We consulted an expert, a grandmother whose apple pie is legendary, and the result was a perfect Ambrosia apple pie that we served with vanilla ice cream!
Grandma Gerry’s Ambrosia Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 375.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup chilled shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3- 4 tablespoons cold water
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- Sift flour and salt together in mixing bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until the consistency of small peas. Add very cold water until pastry just holds together.
- Form a ball and cut in half. Handle as little as possible. Roll out bottom and top crust to size of pie plate. Line bottom of pie plate with crust, brush sides with milk.
- 7 medium or 5 large Ambrosia apples, peeled and cut in chunks
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
Mix apples, sugar and spice. Pour into pie shell, cover with top crust. Pinch top and bottom crust together as you flute the edges. Brush top with milk, use fork to poke holes on top to let steam escape. Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.